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More Departures on Horizon for Struggling White House Staff
International

More Departures on Horizon for Struggling White House Staff

Already setting turnover records, US President Donald Trump’s White House is bracing for even more staff departures and an increasing struggle to fill vacancies, shadowed by the unrelenting Russia probe, political squabbling and Trump’s own low poll numbers.
Entering a grueling year that is sure to bring fresh challenges at home and abroad, Trump faces a brain drain across a wide swath of government functions, threatening to hamstring efforts to enact legislation or conduct even basic operations. Some departures are expected to come from senior ranks—the staff's churn that makes headlines—but more are likely among the lesser-known officials who help to keep the White House and Cabinet agencies running, AP reported.
In Trump’s first year, his administration’s upper-level officials have had a turnover rate of 34%, much higher than any other in the past 40 years, according to an analysis by Kathryn Dunn-Tenpas, a non-resident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. The study found that 22 of the 64 senior officials she tracked have resigned, been fired or reassigned.
In a heated White House meeting last month, some Trump allies—including former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski—argued that the political shop was failing the president, according to two people with knowledge of the meeting but not authorized to discuss it publicly. The allies warned that if the Democrats were to seize control of the House this November, they could begin impeachment proceedings that would imperil Trump’s presidency.
“Donald Trump is all about results, and if he thinks things are going positive and well, I think that redounds to the team,” said Trump friend Chris Ruddy, head of the conservative news site NewsMax, who spent time with the president in Florida over the holidays. “But if the approval numbers don’t improve, I think he’ll make changes to improve things. That’s his way.”
Much of the staff turnover in recent months was driven by John Kelly, who began his tenure as chief of staff by cracking down on internal rivalries and dismissing attention-seeking aides like Omarosa Manigault-Newman. Kelly has already quietly tapped Jim Carroll as deputy chief of staff, replacing Kirstjen Nielsen, the new Homeland Security secretary. Marc Short, head of legislative affairs, has also expanded his portfolio. Deputy Chief of Staff Rick Dearborn is expected to leave the West Wing in coming months.
But more high-profile changes may be on the horizon.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, whose relationship with Trump has proved fraught, has long been rumored to be on the way out, with CIA Director Mike Pompeo discussed as a likely replacement. Both Trump and Tillerson have publicly denied he is leaving.

 

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