A new report reveals that President Donald Trump may be planning to clean house of many of his top Cabinet officials in the aftermath of the upcoming midterm elections.
The president is planning on waiting until after the midterms to release a number of his most high profile and influential staffers with the goal of helping him get reelected in 2020, according to Politico. In addition to United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley, who announced last month that she was planning on leaving the administration, Trump is also expected to fire Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Others on the possible short list to get the heave-ho include Secretary of Defense James Mattis, Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross and Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke.
According to what one Republican source close to the president told Politico, "The president is looking to get better performers – all of these decisions are being made in the context of the re-election campaign. Trump wants the strongest possible A-team going into 2020.”
Yet there are potential drawbacks to Trump unexpectedly purging so many members of his administration. For one thing, it will have echoes of President Jimmy Carter's infamous decision to fire four members of his Cabinet in 1979, one that offset the political benefits he accrued from a popular speech he had delivered less than two weeks earlier. More importantly, it will reinforce the image that this is an administration in which Trump can't keep members of his own cabinet: He has also lost Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price, Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt and Chief of Staff Reince Priebus since taking office.
In addition, Trump cannot appoint replacements to the positions he is reportedly thinking of vacating without getting them confirmed by the Senate. This could open him up to the spectacle of a number of controversies, depending on who he chooses and whether they have any skeletons in their closets.
The most conspicuous name on the list of possible Trump officials to be sent packing is Sessions, with whom Trump once had a close friendship. After the president was angered by Sessions' decision to recuse himself from the Trump-Russia investigation, however, the president soured on his attorney general and has repeatedly humiliated him, both privately and publicly. His Twitter attacks on his own attorney general have included quoting someone who said "the recusal of Jeff Sessions was an unforced betrayal of the President of the United States" and claiming "the Russian Witch Hunt Hoax continues, all because Jeff Sessions didn't tell me he was going to recuse himself...I would have quickly picked someone else. So much time and money wasted, so many lives ruined...and Sessions knew better than most that there was No Collusion!"
Earlier this month, Trump also took a rhetorical shot at Mattis, who is rumored to have written a controversial editorial criticizing the administration from the inside.
"I think he’s sort of a Democrat, if you want to know the truth. But Gen. Mattis is a good guy. We get along very well. He may leave. I mean, at some point, everybody leaves," Trump told "60 Minutes."