This was the A team.
Photographer: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Let’s take a quick look at five stories about the Donald Trump administration from the last few days:
- Steve Bannon, a former top official in the Trump campaign and the White House, was reported to have said (as he was leaving his job as chief strategist last August) that he was sick of being a “wet nurse to a 71-year-old man.”
- Rob Porter, a senior White House aide, quit his job after allegations of physical abuse by two ex-wives and an ex-girlfriend went public. White House aides provided conflicting accounts of who had known what about the abuse. It appears that White House chief of staff John Kelly considered Porter more competent than many of his colleagues and was therefore reluctant to abandon him.
- Rachel Brand, the No. 3 official in the Justice Department, announced that after less than a year she was leaving the government to work at Walmart.
- Christopher Wray, whom Trump appointed director of the FBI, responded to a question about the president’s criticisms of the bureau by dismissing “the noise on TV and in social media.”
- President Trump told the world that he planned to impose a “reciprocal tax” on other countries, which “surprised some of his top aides, who warned that no formal plans have been prepared.”
These stories raise very different issues. What they have in common is that all of them point to serious personnel problems. We have grown used to them over the last 13 months, but their extent remains unusual for a presidential administration.
Bannon, Brand and Porter are each examples of the extremely high turnover in senior positions, and Wray has his job because of turnover. It may be more taxing to work amid the ambient chaos of this administration than it usually is to hold a senior position in the executive branch — which adds to the turnover. Brand was reportedly unhappy in her job in part because the administration had not gotten enough other appointees confirmed to the Justice Department. Her departure will add to the vacancies.