STAFFING THE TRUMP WHITE HOUSE

Most of the Trump White House cabinet and staff have scant government experience and the group is heavily weighted in favor of Wall Street billionaires, millionaires, family members, and prominent alt-right influences. Some would say that this staffing pattern is exactly what Trump supporters were looking for when they responded to the promise of “draining the swamp.” Apparently the intent was to drain the swamp of career professionals, government expertise and to run the country in the same manner that Trump has run his family-owned business.

Others had a more traditional understanding of what “drain the swamp” meant – and were wrong. The ordinary understanding of “drain the swamp” is that the White House staffing would be free of conflict of interest, free of motive for financial gain, resistant to lobbying efforts, highly ethical and dedicated to representing American citizens best interests. That is not the case with this administration.

The Washington Post has a series of podcasts entitled Can He Do That?, frequently updated, that describe the numerous departures from custom and expectations we all have of a president. This administration ignores common ethical behavior, does not respect the rule of law and takes action to incite others. Trump’s administration has literally hundreds of documented conflicts of interest.

During most administrations it has not been essential for the ordinary citizen to know the details of

  • who is advising the president,
  • who is in the cabinet,
  • existing familial and/or business relationships,
  • breadth and scope of financial motives,
  • conflicts of interest,
  • potential for corruption and
  • refusals to disclose important information

No more. This administration is steeped in conflict of interest and alt-right perspectives. It has exhibited disregard for ordinary ethics, ordinary customs of behavior, ordinary levels of government transparency, ordinary respect for the rule of law and a free press. Of huge importance is the disregard for facts, a willingness to misrepresent facts, dissemble, lie, and deliberately attempt to mislead, confuse and distract.

A major caution is also to be aware of the role of intimidation, vindictiveness and revenge. Members of the White House staff have routinely threatened that they are “taking names” with the intent to harm individual who disagree with them. Prior to this administration, these types of threats were rarely spoken and never part of the national reporting.The president tweets cause immediate and widespread attention for individuals, individual companies and countries, often without reason.

It is common for any new administration to put their own staff in place. All those common actions have been taken by the Trump administration  . . .

  • Federal hiring freeze
  • Gag orders” issued for many agencies
  • Ambassadors resignations accepted

KEY PLAYERS THAT WE ALL SHOULD KNOW ABOUT

SENIOR ADVISORS

  1. Stephen Bannon (left in August of 2017)
  2. Stephen Miller See more
  3. Kellyanne Conway
  4. Gary Cohn — Economic advisor who is a Democrat and a worldview that differs from the dominant Bannon/Miller version

FAMILY MEMBERS

  1. Ivanka Trump – Daughter
  2. Jared Kushner – Kushner is Trump’s son in law who is also an Orthodox Jew. It is difficult to see how Kushner and Bannon will come to the same conclusions with regard to policy. There is some speculation that supporting hard right Israel is the common bond. Some Orthodox Jews support the current Israeli approach and reject a two-state, Israeli-Palestinian peace settlement. Recently the Trump administration has backed away from an extreme, hard right position and supported Obama’s position which is in line with long-standing US policies. See more
  3. Donald Trump Jr. – son
  4. Eric Trump — son

LINKS TO WHITE HOUSE CABINET AND STAFF PROFILES

A general observation of the Trump Cabinet nominees is that most of them are actively hostile to the current programs and mission of the department they are leading. Almost all are conservative, hard liners or wealthy Wall Street types. Betsy DeVos, billionaire charter school and voucher advocate, is famously hostile to public education. Tom Price, head of Health and Human Services wants to get rid of, or drastically reduce, Obamacare, Medicare and other health programs. One nominated Goldman Sachs executive was a major player in the Wall Street financial meltdown of 2009 where taxpayers bailed out Wall Street, meanwhile millions of those same taxpayers losing their homes to foreclosure , Rex Tilllerson, the CEO of Exxon Mobile, and new Secretary of State is a recognized friend of Vladimir Putin, has strong ties to Russia and is an advocate of drilling, fracking and other climate change issues. Almost every nominee has the same story related to their own Cabinet post.

The most aggressive and dangerous Cabinet member is Scott Pruitt of the EPA. He is literally dismantling the environmental progress that has been made over the past years, sending the US backwards and ignoring all the science regarding climate change. The Secretary of the Interior, Zinkle, is also very dangerous as he is making deals to reduce monuments, sell off  American land, provide attractive leases for drilling and mining to private companies.

Politico is a good website for this type of information, often presenting well organized and easy to

read summaries with links to more detailed information

White House Staff

Cabinet positions (Require Senate confirmation)

  1. Secretary of Defense — General Mattis
  2. Secretary of the Treasury — Steve Mnuchin
  3. Attorney General — Jeff Sessions
  4. Secretary of Commerce — Wilbur Ross
  5. Secretary of Labor — Alex Acosta
  6. Secretary of Education — Betsy DeVos
  7. Secretary of Health and Human Services — Eric Hargan (acting), was Tom Price but fired for travel expenditures
  8. Secretary of State — Rex Tillerson
  9. Secretary of Homeland Security — nominated Kelly’s deputy chief of staff, Kirstjen Nielsen
  10. Secretary of Energy — Rick Peffy
  11. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development — Ben Carson
  12. Secretary of Transportation — Elaine Chao, wife of Mitch McConnell, the Republican Senate Majority Leader
  13. Secretary of Interior — Ryan Zinke
  14. Secretary of Agriculture — Sonny Purdue
  15. Secretary of Veterans Affairs — David Shulkin
  16. Vice President — Mike Pence

CABINET LEVEL OFFICIALS (do not need Senate confirmation)

  1. Director, Office of Management and Budget (OMB) — Mick Mulvaney
  2. Chief of Staff — General Kelly
  3. UN Ambassador — Nikki Haley
  4. Small Business Administration  — Linda McMahon
  5. US Trade Representative — Robert Lighthizer
  6. Director of Centra Intelligence Agency — Mike Pompeo
  7. Director of Nationl Intelligence — Dan Coats
  8. Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency — Scott Pruitt
  9. National Security Advisor — General McMaster

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Common Ground
We don’t need to search any further for common ground in our country. We have it.
We all want the same things – a safe, prosperous, free, democratic nation with opportunity for all. At the same time, we will all be harmed if our democracy, our free press, our Constitution and our core American values are threatened. We will all certainly be harmed if reckless behavior triggers any number of potential armed conflicts.

None of us know how this will all play out so let's make a deal. Let’s get up to speed on the issues, establish some facts, take action and watch what happens together . . .