Monday, June 12, 2017

What did Donald Trump do today?

He continued to blame Democrats for the slow confirmation of nominees who do not yet exist.

At his first full Cabinet meeting today, Trump returned to the theme he elaborated last week--that "obstructionist" Democrats were preventing him from getting key positions filled. As we noted yesterday, Senate Democrats cannot meaningfully delay any confirmation proceedings because, except for Supreme Court nominations, the filibuster can no longer be used on those votes.

The problem remains that Trump has hardly even tried to staff his administration. By one count, he had nominated only 111 people to fill about 1,100 positions requiring Senate approval. The Senate cannot confirm or even begin to act on nominations that Trump has neglected to make.

Trump is notoriously difficult to work for, and the emotional strain of his troubled presidency has not made him any easier to handle. But further complicating his ability to hire essential executive branch staff is the fact that there is now significant doubt about the long-term viability of his presidency. Also, the fact that the Trump administration is already under active investigation by an independent counsel means that some new hires would potentially be putting themselves in a situation where they would need to retain expensive private lawyers--although for his own reasons, Trump is discouraging his employees from following his and his family's example and lawyering up.

Why should a normal person care about this?

  • As simple as it is, at this point, it's impossible to rule out that Trump genuinely doesn't understand what the problem is.
  • It's a very bad sign if nobody wants to work for the White House.