Trump's understaffed Cabinet is being micromanaged by the White House, leading to friction

The White House's micromanaging may be rubbing many of its Cabinet officials the wrong way

By Matthew Rozsa
Published February 22, 2017 5:02PM (EST)
 (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
(AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

President Donald Trump's White House has a strange relationship with the process of hiring staffers. On the one hand, there have been the staffers who, after being hired, had to be dismissed last week for failing background checks on issues like substance abuse and credit scores. Then again the White House has been known to micromanage whom its Cabinet officers choose for their own staffs, according to reports.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was told that he couldn't choose a deputy who had criticized the president. Robert Harward, Trump's first choice for national security adviser, turned him down, reportedly because he would not have been allowed to install his own staff without approval from Trump's advisers.

Even among the staff already installed, infighting is prevalent.

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and Attorney General Jeff Sessions feuded over Trump's decision to revoke protections for transgender students in a draft order, according to a New York Times report. Because Trump ultimately sided with Sessions, DeVos was forced to give in since Sessions could not proceed without her cooperation.

Trump has filled less than three dozen of the 550 top Senate-confirmed positions, according to a report by Politico. The reasons for the rejections vary aside from the common theme that their appointments would seem to bruise the president's ego. A candidate preferred by DeVos was rejected as a result of having previously worked for an organization that had supported policies opposed by Trump.

Meanwhile, Secretary of Treasury Steven Mnuchin currently lacks undersecretaries or assistant secretaries, since his choices were turned down for having been insufficiently supportive of Trump in the past or perceived as too liberal. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson couldn't appoint Shermichael Singleton to a top position after his past criticism of Trump was discovered.

Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer for Salon. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and is ABD in his PhD program in History at Lehigh University. His work has appeared in Mic, Quartz and MSNBC.

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Donald Trump Rex Tillerson Robert Harward