After Bill Clinton literally soiled the Oval Office (and that famous blue dress), George W. Bush vowed to “restore honor and dignity” to the White House.
Donald Trump made a similar pledge when he campaigned, promising to “drain the swamp” that is Washington, D.C. And remarkably, he’s done just that (at least the swamp monsters that dwell in 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue).
From June 30, 2017, to June 30 this year, 141 people who worked for the president have hit the bricks. That’s some 37 percent of the staff. Some 56 percent of the “highest-ranking people in Trump’s White House named in last year’s payroll report have since left or have announced they will soon leave,” the Daily Mail reported this month.
Many were fired or pushed out. Those sudden desires to “spend more time with family?” Nuh-uh. There’s a new CEO in town, and this one not only has no problem saying, “You’re fired,” but the onetime star of “The Apprentice” reality TV show also seems to enjoy it.
In Mr. Trump’s White House, staffers really do work at the pleasure of the president. Displease him and — poof — you’re gone.
Take former communications director Anthony Scaramucci. He was hired on July 21, 2017, began work on July 25, held a disastrous press conference, made derogatory statements about fellow staffers in a late-night phone call with a “journalist,” and then was fired on July 31. Six days he lasted — setting a new record.
Plenty of other top-level staffers have also departed, and not always of their own accord, including chief of staff Reince Priebus, top economic adviser Gary Cohn, deputy chief of staff Rick Dearborn and press secretary Sean Spicer.
That’s a far cry from how things have been done in the past two administrations. Under Barack Obama, the despicable Attorney General Eric Holder was held in contempt by Congress and the dishonest Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was responsible for the deaths of four Americans, but neither was fired.
Republican administrations have been just as bad. Remember “Brownie”? Despite his blundering incompetence handling the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, FEMA head Michael Brown got a glowing review from President George W. Bush, who famously said, “Brownie, you’re doing a heck of a job.” He wasn’t, of course, but every two weeks taxpayers shelled out thousands of dollars to keep him in his cushy FEMA job (why the former Judges and Stewards Commissioner for the International Arabian Horse Association ever even got appointed to the post is anyone’s guess).
It’s a different story now.
“At the second-highest level of commissioned White House staff — deputy assistants to the president — 43 percent of staffers named in the first Trump payroll report had left by this year’s update, versus 15 percent in the equivalent time frame for the Obama White House,” the Mail reported. “In the third-highest level — special assistants to the president — 39 percent left, versus 24 percent for Obama.”
Which brings us to Scott Pruitt. This guy is a piece of work.
“Pruitt dedicated taxpayer resources at his control to obtaining the proper perfumed hand lotion, trying to buy a Trump Hotel mattress, trying to help Mrs. Pruitt become a chicken franchisee, getting Pruitt to dinner on time, flying Pruitt around Europe, and in the end, providing information for more than a dozen federal investigations into his conduct,” wrote the Washington Examiner.
Mr. Pruitt was the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. He spent more than $100,000 on first-class travel in his first year. He demanded a secure phone booth (think Cone of Silence) for his offices, which cost $43,000. The list goes on and on. Ethics was not Mr. Pruitt’s strong suit.
So last week, President Trump dropped the boom. You’re fired. It was all reported as Mr. Pruitt resigning, but that’s not what happened.
“Scott Pruitt was told by the White House Chief of Staff John Kelly to resign,” Bloomberg News reported. “That’s according to two people familiar with the matter, who say the former EPA chief didn’t want to leave his post. During a phone call, Kelly told Pruitt that President Donald Trump wanted him to leave after revelations that the administrator’s schedule has been altered to shield some meetings from public view. Pruitt was caught off guard by Kelly’s call Thursday, one source says, just one day after celebrating Independence Day at the White House.”
So say what you want about the president. But this much is true: In Washington today, at this moment, all those poseurs cashing government paychecks better watch out. If Mr. Trump finds out you stink at your job — and he will — you’re toast.
And the American taxpayer should be very happy about that.
⦁ Joseph Curl covered the White House and politics for a decade for The Washington Times. He can be reached at [email protected] and on Twitter @josephcurl.
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