At Politico, Josh Gerstein reports that the Trump scandals -- along with his attacks on Comey and others -- have made it hard for the administration to fill legal jobs.
“They were dealing with a pool that had already shrunk and, now, of course, some people will be avoiding it like the plague,” said one well-connected GOP lawyer who held a top-level post in President George W. Bush’s administration and asked not to be named. “The lesser-known folks are wondering if they’re going to take a huge reputational hit if the president of the United States starts tweeting about them. … There’s definitely some poisoning of the well going on in terms of who would take a job at this point.”
From the outset, the Trump administration was facing a limited pool of candidates for senior positions. Many GOP lawyers and former officials signed “Never Trump” pledges during the campaign and never seriously considered accepting a Trump appointment. Others did, but found themselves essentially blacklisted because of blog posts or other statements made about Trump during the campaign.
Trump still has to fill senior Department of Justice roles and the 93 U.S. attorney posts around the country—a task complicated by his decision, in March, to demand the immediate resignation of all remaining Obama-era appointees without a bench of replacements ready to go. Scores of seats on the federal bench also remain open.Joe Gould at Defense News:
Pro-defense lawmakers have grown frustrated at how slowly the White House is moving to fill dozens of top-tier posts at the Pentagon, warning that vacancies are hamstringing efforts to advance the president’s national security agenda.
The administration has advanced 13 of U.S. President Donald Trump’s picks for the Pentagon’s civilian leadership to the Senate, which has 53 key jobs requiring Senate confirmation. The Senate has confirmed five — Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson had been confirmed by the Senate and three mid-tier nominees — had been confirmed by the Senate as of May 25.Lena Sun at The Washington Post:
Trump’s total for civilian DoD nominees sent to the Senate is just over half the number President Barack Obama had sent by this point in his first term, according to data compiled by Defense News. By this time in their first terms, President George W. Bush had sent 17, President Bill Clinton had sent 16, President George H.W. Bush had sent 10 and President Ronald Reagan had sent 15.
Nearly 700 positions are vacant at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention because of a continuing freeze on hiring that officials and researchers say affects programs supporting local and state public health emergency readiness, infectious disease control and chronic disease prevention.
The same restriction remains in place throughout the Health and Human Services Department despite the lifting of a government-wide hiring freeze last month. At the National Institutes of Health, staff say clinical work, patient care and recruitment are suffering.
“It’s all the operational details,” said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because CDC staff are not permitted to comment publicly without approval from HHS. The situation has been made worse, the official said, because the agency has been operating without a permanent director since Tom Frieden stepped down in January. That job is considered one of the most crucial public health positions in the government given the CDC's role in tracking and stopping infectious disease outbreaks in the United States and worldwide.