When Donald Trump ran for president, he brushed off concerns about his own lack of governing experience by repeatedly promising to hire “only with the best and most serious people,” as he said in 2015, adding, “We want top-of-the-line professionals.” When asked, just weeks before Election Day 2016, what his criteria would be for choosing senior staff, he answered: “Track record. Great competence, love of what they’re doing, how they’re getting along with people, references” and, the candidate added a bit later, “you need people that are truly, truly capable.”

Last week, just over two years later, Trump tweeted that his first secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, was “dumb as a rock” after Tillerson said Trump “doesn’t like to read”; Trump announced that former Fox News personality Heather Nauert will succeed former governor Nikki Haley as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations; and Sunday, Vice President Pence’s highly touted aide, Nick Ayers, announced via tweet that he is turning down Trump’s offer to make him White House chief of staff.

Despite early assurances that he would have an all-star administration, Trump now faces the most difficult part of his presidency increasingly cut off from first-rate talent.