True, and there’s no doubt that that’s contributing to Trump’s leak problem.
But whose fault is it? Are Schumer and Senate Democrats serially slow-walking Trump’s nominees or is Trump himself slow-walking the nomination process? Compare and contrast:
Among 559 key government positions requiring Senate confirmation, Trump’s only nominated 94 people so far. That’s easily the lowest number by May 20th of their first term of any of the last five presidents and less than half the number Obama had nominated. (O had more nominees confirmed at this point than Trump has had nominees, period.) Granted, Obama had a filibuster-proof Senate majority when he took office in 2009, but Trump has the functional equivalent of that after Harry Reid nuked the filibuster for presidential nominees in 2014. And although Trump has had to wait longer on average for each nominee to be confirmed than any of his recent predecessors, the wait isn’t wildly longer than what Obama experienced eight years ago.
The hard truth is that Trump is largely responsible for his own problem here. (And Newt alludes to that in passing in the full clip at Fox, when he urges the White House to double and triple down on getting people nominated.) His transition was upended when Chris Christie was replaced as its head in November and Christie’s plan for staffing and implementation was literally thrown in the trash. They started from scratch and have been playing catch-up on personnel ever since, but there are still organizational problems:
The process is bogged down as a result of micromanaging by the president and senior staff, turf wars between the West Wing and Cabinet secretaries and a largely inexperienced and overworked staff, say more than a dozen sources including administration insiders, lobbyists, lawyers and Republican strategists.
Trump personally oversees the hiring process for agency staff by insisting on combing through a binder full of names each week and likes to sign off on each one, according to two people with knowledge of the administration’s hiring process. Also weighing in on the names — and not always agreeing on final picks — are leaders of sometimes warring factions, including chief of staff Reince Priebus, senior strategist Steve Bannon, Cabinet secretaries and, sometimes, the White House’s top lawyer, Don McGahn.
“It’s like a medieval court,” said one person advising potential nominees through the confirmation process. “The White House meets once a week to go over personnel in some attempt to create uniformity, but in this White House, you just have to smile at that. … It’s hard to impose uniformity among the White House’s different coalitions.”
On top of trying to forge consensus on personnel in a chaotic White House with factions that are odds with each other, Trump doesn’t have the same base of institutional expertise to draw from as establishment Republican presidents would. There isn’t much of a “nationalist” talent pool among Beltway Republicans, which means he’s stuck hiring either newbies who might not be up to their new task or old hands who might secretly loathe him and who’ll end up compounding his leak problem. (Trump himself has reportedly blocked at least one undersecretary nominee on suspicion of anti-Trumpism.) Even staffers who are loyal to Trump have been known to leak for “virtuous” reasons, not because they’re aiming to hurt the president but because they fear that the only way to get through to him about risky behavior is to embarrass him publicly into changing it. He’s still going to have a leak problem, even if every last Obamaite is purged from the government. Although, of course, he’ll have less of one.
This clip comes from last night’s “Hannity,” by the way. Exit question: Should a guy who just invited Julian Assange to guest-host his massively popular radio show really be lecturing people about the danger of leaks?
— Newt Gingrich (@newtgingrich) May 31, 2017