President Trump’s staff churn continued on Tuesday as Nikki R Haley, ambassador to the United Nations, announced she would leave at the end of the year. Trump said Haley had informed him roughly six months ago that she wanted to take a break after finishing two years with the administration.
Some roles have been more volatile than others. For example, there have been four White House communications directors, with stints ranging from less than a week (Anthony Scaramucci) to more than six months (Hope Hicks). Sean Spicer, while serving as press secretary, filled the position twice — once in an acting capacity after Michael Dubke resigned.
The flurry of changes at the White House and cabinet-level so early in a president’s administration is “unprecedented,” according to Max Stier, the president and chief executive of the Partnership for Public Service, a nonprofit organisation that specialises in federal government management issues.
“The disruption is highly consequential,” Stier said. “When you lose a leader, it has a cascade effect throughout the organisation.”
A New York Times analysis of 21 top White House and cabinet positions back to President Bill Clinton’s first term shows how unusual the Trump administration’s upheaval was through the first 14 months of a presidency. Nine of these positions had turned over at least once during the Trump administration, compared with three at the same point of the Clinton administration, two under President Barack Obama and one under President George W Bush.
On several occasions, Trump has filled newly open positions with officials already in his administration. He chose Mike Pompeo, the CIA director, to replace Tillerson, and Pompeo’s deputy, Gina Haspel, to replace Pompeo. Hicks, a longtime aide and confidant, took over communications after Scaramucci’s disastrous tenure. And Kirstjen Nielsen, who now leads the Department of Homeland Security, crisscrossed from that department to the White House and then back again.
“There’s a pull to fill from within, but that’s often a bad idea,” Stier said. “Not only does it create a new vacancy but you’re also not expanding the talent pool. One of the primary leadership challenges is getting information from outside the bubble you exist in.”
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