Donald Trump confused about how government agencies work: report

Chaos in the White House might simply be a result of Trump having no idea what he's doing

By Nicole Karlis

Senior Writer

Published March 16, 2018 6:40PM (EDT)

 (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

The White House is like a house of cards under President Donald Trump. Rumors surface daily, even hourly, that someone else in the administration is on the chopping block. White House officials are reportedly at the point where they’re taking bets on who will be ousted next.

But why? Perhaps Trump is fond of his days firing people on “The Apprentice”; or perhaps he doesn’t understand who does what still — which is precisely what one White House official told The Washington Post. In a report claiming that Trump was making plans to remove  H.R. McMaster as his national security adviser — something that hasn’t been officially confirmed — an official also told The Post Trump has reportedly expressed confusion about “what agencies and secretaries are in charge of what duties.”

From the text of the Post story:

“Trump has sometimes expressed confusion about what agencies and secretaries are in charge of what duties, a senior administration official said. For example, this official said, he has complained to Pruitt about regulatory processes for construction projects, although the EPA is not in charge of the regulations.”

It is amusing, if not entirely surprising for a man who has blundered his way through the presidency. Indeed, Trump had never held a government position prior to being president, and was widely mocked for not knowing what a "nuclear triad" was.

As CNN’s Brian Stelter tweeted, the president's know-nothingism is worth discussing; if true, it’s scary.

The Brookings Institute found in an analysis that Trump’s staff turnover in his first year of presidency was significantly higher than the last five presidents. Trump’s high-level staff turnover was at 34 percent in his first year of presidency. During Barack Obama’s first year, his high-level team turnover was at 9 percent; Bill Clinton’s was at 11 percent; George H.W. Bush’s was 7 percent, and Ronald Reagan’s was 17 percent.

While the high turnover portrays a White House that is unorganized and inefficient, that can actually be positive when it comes to the Trump administration’s quest to achieve policy goals, as Brookings Institute pointed out.

“In presidential politics, much like any business environment, the coin of the realm is personal relationships — ties to the Hill, party leaders, interest group leaders, advocacy organizations, and journalists are critical to presidential success,” the analysis said. “While a replacement may be able to reclaim those relationships, or at least some of them, to the degree the relationships cannot be replaced, too much turnover can be a hindrance for a new administration and its pursuit of policy goals.”

However, if the dismissals are a result of Trump’s lack of understanding who does what and who is responsible for what, it’s just more evidence that he’s clearly isn’t (and never was) qualified for the job.

By Nicole Karlis

Nicole Karlis is a senior writer at Salon, specializing in health and science. Tweet her @nicolekarlis.

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Donald Trump H.r. Mcmaster Trump Administration Trump Staffers White House