President Donald Trump may appoint his personal pilot to be the next leader of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
Pilot John Dunkin is on a short list that also includes the current acting FAA Administrator Dan Elwell and Rep. Sam Graves, R-Mo., according to Axios. One senior administration official tried to downplay the potentially negative optics of Dunkin being considered by telling the site, "He’s on the list because he's the president’s pilot, but if he gets the job it won't be because he's the president's pilot." Another source with ties to the Trump administration told Axios that Dunkin has "managed airline and corporate flight departments, certified airlines from start-up under FAA regulations, and oversaw the Trump presidential campaign’s air fleet."
Dunkin himself reportedly used to tell Trump, whenever his plane would get stuck on the tarmac due to various delays, that those inconveniences wouldn't happen if a pilot was in charge of the FAA.
Trump has a long history of valuing personal loyalty above all other considerations when it comes to staffing his administration. He has left the State Department understaffed precisely because his administration has methodically weeded out potential applicants who were deemed insufficiently loyal to the president, including purging staffers who had been part of the Never Trump movement. He has made his son-in-law Jared Kushner into one of his closest advisers, even though Kushner had no prior government experience and has continued to struggle to obtain his security clearance. Former FBI Director James Comey even reported that Trump asked for a personal dinner with him and then demanded his loyalty.