White House staff secretary Rob Porter’s resignation over domestic violence accusations, followed by speechwriter David Sorensen’s a few days later, has thrown the West Wing into chaos and endangered Chief of Staff John Kelly’s job.
But the White House’s staffing crisis runs deeper. The Washington Post counts 37 high-level Trump aides or advisers who’ve resigned or been fired, including a chief of staff, multiple agency heads, and — importantly, given the administration’s need to build a bench for its future — deputy directors of the National Economic Council, the National Security Council, and the Domestic Policy Council, as well as multiple deputy chiefs of staff. Many of these jobs remain open today. Many more resignations are expected.
Trump’s 34 percent turnover rate in his first year is more than three times as high as President Barack Obama’s in the same period and twice as high as President Ronald Reagan’s, which until now was the modern record-holder. Of 12 positions deemed most central to the president, only five are still filled by the same person as when Mr. Trump took office.
Discussions with people who work in the Trump administration, or work closely with the Trump administration, make clear that the core of the staffing crisis is a management crisis. Working in this White House is a frustrating, dispiriting, and often surreal experience, and it exposes staffers to both legal and reputational risks. Insiders tend to trace three zones of dysfunction, all of which overlap, and all of which destabilize daily functioning and, in turn, scare off potential recruits.
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