After the inaugural parade, which includes tanks for the first time in a half-century, the president goes into the White House, takes out a hand-written enemies list of people who work for him and makes Jared Kushner fire everyone on it. The casualty list includes Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson. Mike Pompeo and Mark Esper resigned before the election, having been blamed by Trump for the Ukraine mess. Steve Mnuchin is the only original Cabinet secretary still in Trump’s good graces.
A new crop of loyalists gets hired, including now-former Reps. Mark Meadows, Jim Jordan and Doug Collins, as well as Lindsey Graham, who steps down from the Senate to become the new Defense secretary. Brad Parscale moves from campaign manager to serve as White House chief of staff—but only after Trump leaves Mick Mulvaney’s former job open for six months. Trump promises his longtime adviser Stephen Miller an appointment to run the Homeland Security Department in an acting capacity during the close of the second term, when Senate confirmation won’t matter for a lame duck administration. And the president also raids his reelection campaign for new staff, believing they will be more loyal than the Frankenstein crew from the Republican National Committee that he hastily assembled in 2017.
“You don’t work to reelect a man you hate to get into the White House,” observes Michael Caputo, a longtime Trump adviser who agreed to join us on our time traveling experiment and says the 2020 campaign represents a real bounty for faithful, Trump-believing worker bees.
Next comes the score settling. “Trump totally unburdened and 100 percent politics all the time. Payback is hell,” predicted one of the Republicans close to the White House who insisted on anonymity because of their current job.