But while Democrats did stall several Trump Cabinet picks, the vast majority of sub-Cabinet slots that require confirmation are vacant because of a personnel crisis in the Trump White House. And there are many such empty slots. Trump has named only 20 sub-Cabinet-level positions, including two who withdrew — a list that includes nominees for ambassadorships, counsel positions, and commissioners, according to a tracker from the Washington Post and Partnership for Public Service. CNN reports that “Trump has more than 1,900 vacancies within his new administration, most of which did not require Senate confirmation, according to data from tracking service Leadership Directories. The White House objects to those numbers, but didn’t provide me with any data of their own to refute them.
Nor did the White House offer up any numbers refuting my contention in a previous article that the Office of Presidential Personnel had only 18 people working in it — only one-fifth the number employed by President Bill Clinton at this point in his presidency. This ghost office is captained by 38-year-old John DeStefano, a former political director for former House speaker John Boehner. His only major personnel experience has been advising newly elected 2010 tea-party members on whom to hire.
The management chart at the Department of Defense is marked by Swiss-cheese-like holes. The Associated Press reports that after two months, not a single political appointee has joined Secretary Mattis. “The process has definitely slowed,” said Dov Zakheim, who served as the Pentagon budget chief during the George W. Bush administration. “The delays are already causing much consternation among allies, especially in Europe and Southeast Asia, as their most senior working level day-to-day contacts — the deputy assistant secretaries — may not come onboard until the summer,” he told the AP. “Lots of mayhem could take place before then.”
Team Trump has offered a series of excuses for the logjam. Some say that the FBI has been slow in finishing security clearances, but an FBI source has strongly disputed that to me.