The ‘Game of Thrones’ Administration Can’t Hire Staff

According to a Washington Post tracker, Trump has nominated just 37 people to fill the 530 remaining vacant senior-level jobs requiring Senate confirmation. The president has been all over the map in explaining this one. At times, he blames Democrats in Senate for obstruction – which is hard to do when he hasn’t even submitted nominations.  At other times, he says he’s not interested in filling all those positions.

Trump, in an exclusive interview Tuesday with “Fox & Friends,” suggested his lack of political appointees is less about a difficulty in finding eager candidates and more about a desire for a leaner government operation.

“When I see a story about ‘Donald Trump didn’t fill hundreds and hundreds of jobs,’ it’s because, in many cases, we don’t want to fill those jobs,” Trump said.

As is often the case with Trump, he simply says whatever suits him in the moment or whatever he thinks his audience wants to hear.

Lisa Rein says that even his cabinet members are starting to get frustrated with the hold-up.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, who has publicly expressed frustration with the process…

Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price aired his dismay at a recent breakfast meeting with his former congressional colleagues…

Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao has also become impatient…

So what’s the problem? It might have something to do with this:

Prospective nominees for senior posts and even some of the more junior ones must win approval from competing camps inside the White House, according to close Trump associates and Republican lobbyists.

Around the table for weekly hiring meetings are chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon, representing the populist wing; Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, leading the establishment Republican wing; White House Counsel Don McGahn; Pence’s chief of staff, Josh Pitcock; and Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, representing a business-oriented faction, according to a lobbyist and several White House officials. For economic appointments, Gary Cohn, director of the National Economic Council, also sits in, as does the president’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, when a hiring decision piques her interest.

Wouldn’t you love to be a fly on the wall and observe those meetings? The fact that Ivanka shows up whenever a decision “piques her interest” says it all. This is like the Game of Thrones characters trying to hire a staff. Can you imagine what it takes to get through that gauntlet? No wonder they are failing so miserably.

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Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly. Follow her on Twitter @Smartypants60.