Federal Staffers Fear for Their Jobs Under Trump
A Politico feature story this week revealed that holdover staff in the federal government are deeply concerned about some recent criticism they’ve received from conservative pundits. These staffers, who are supposedly non-political careerists, say that websites like Breitbart are trying to paint them as Obama loyalists who are seeking to sabotage the Trump agenda. They fear that this unjustified narrative will pressure the president into firing them.
The articles — which have appeared in Breitbart News, the Conservative Review and other outlets — have alarmed veteran officials in both parties as well as current executive branch staffers. They say the stories are adding to tensions between career staffers and political appointees as they begin to implement Trump’s agenda, and they worry that the stories could inspire Trump to try purging federal agencies of perceived enemies.
The claims posted on the conservative sites include allegations of anti-Israel and pro-Iran bias against staffers at institutions such as the State Department and the National Security Council. Breitbart News, whose former executive chairman Steve Bannon is now Trump’s chief strategist, has even published lists of workers that the president should fire.
Now, by putting it that way, they’re making it sound like Bannon is planting these stories to advance his own agenda. Maybe that’s true, but we don’t necessarily know that to be the case. And taken on its own merits, there is plenty of truth to what these outlets have been advising. No reasonable observer can look at the first two months of Trump’s presidency and pretend like he’s had full control over his Cabinet agencies. Quite the contrary, there has been story after story that makes it look like elements of the “deep state” are in complete mutiny mode.
While Trump does have to be careful that he doesn’t strip essential agencies of their functionality by removing everyone with any clue about what they’re doing, it is increasingly clear that the functionality of these agencies has already been degraded. Why? Well, the simple reason seems to be that too many people in those agencies are working against the president’s agenda.
You don’t need to go on an ideological witch-hunt. You don’t need to fire anyone and everyone who has been in the federal government for more than two months. But you do need to identify and fire anyone who refuses to enthusiastically do their jobs. That’s not politics; that’s management.