The Best People, the Very Best — UPDATED Sept. 13, 2019


From left, Paul Manafort, former campaign chairman for the Donald Trump presidential campaign, and Michael Cohen, Trump's former personal lawyer. (Photographers not known)

From left, Paul Manafort, former campaign chairman for the Donald Trump presidential campaign, and Michael Cohen, Trump’s former personal lawyer. (Photographers not known)

It’s been five months since WCupdated this chart, an eternity or two in Trump management time. Since the last update, Trump has broken the previous record for turnover in cabinet posts by a first term president: nine total, against H.W.’s eight, and Trump did it in just 2.5 years.

Readers will recall Donald Trump promised us his administration would hire “the best people, the very best. Not the biggest donors or biggest supporters.” As a service to readers, WC provided earlier summary tables of how that’s working out. Here’s an updated version, with newer developments towards the top.

Note this is only a partial list. It does not include press secretaries White House communications chiefs because, candidly, WC has lost track. WC will endeavor to continue to update this from time to time, but it’s getting unwieldy.

Name Office Charges Status
John Bolton National Security Advisor None Resigned or was fired, depending on who you believe
Patrick Shanahan Secretary of Defense None Withdrew his name as a candidate before even being confirm; domestic violence allegations
Keith Kellog White House Chief of Staff None Lasted seven days
Reince Priebus White House Chief of Staff None “Resigned” after 6 months, shortest tenure ever by a White House Chief of Staff
Gen. John Kelly White House Chief of Staff None Fired by Trump. Note Trump has also burned through at least five Deputy Chiefs of Staff.
Mike Young Secretary of Agriculture None Quit after three months, shortest tenure ever by a Secertary of Agriculture
James Mattis Secretary of Defense None Fired by Trump over policy disputes.
Tom Price Secretary of Health and Human Services Investigation still pending “Resigned” following scrutiny of his use of private charters and military aircraft for travel. Shortest tenure in the office’s history.
John F. Kelly Secretary of Homeland Security None Quit to become Trump’s Chief of Staff (spoiler alert: that didn’t wotk out, either)
Elaine Duke Secretary of Homeland Security None “Resigned” under pressure. For four months, she was the second Trump Secretary of Homeland Security
Kristjen Nielsen Secretary of Homeland Security None “Resigned” via Trump tweet. This office is on its third Secretary (presently acting secretary).
Ryan Zinke Secretary of the Interior Investigation still pending. “Resigned” under a cloud of misconduct and conflicts of interest.
Alexander Acosta Secretary of Housing and Urban Development None Taken down by the Epstein plea bargain scandal
Craig Clemmensen Secretary of Housing and Urban Development None Lasted 30 days
Edward C. Hughes Secretary of Labor None Lasted 69 days
H. R. McMaster National Security Advisor None “Resigned” under pressure. Note Trump has also burned through at least three Deputy National Security Advisors.
Tom Bossert Homeland Security Advisor None “Resigned” under pressure. Note that at least six upper positions in the National Security Council have also seen high levels of turnover, and many are and have been vacant for a long time now.
Jeff Sessions Attorney General None Fired by Trump for lingering insistence on the rule of law.
James Comey Director of the FBI None Fired by Trump. Note Trump has also burned through a couple of deputy directors.
Rex Tillerson Secretary of State None Fired by Trump for calling Trump a moron. Third shortest tenure since World War II. The churn in the Department of State may be the worst in all the departments.
David Shulkin Secretary of Veterans Affairs None Fired by Trump via Twitter. Following his dismissal, controversy erupted about efforts by the White House to privatize VA healthcare and inappropriate taxpayer-funded foreign trips.

The VA is on its fourth Secretary and third Deputy Secretary.

Roger Stone Friend and confidant of Trump, Transition Team Member Perjury, Witness Tampering Trial pending
Paul Manafort Trump Campaign Chair Tax Fraud, Money Laundering, Fraud Guilty on 8 of 18 charges; trial on additional charges pending
Michael Flynn National Security Advisor Lying to FBI Plead guilty
George Papadopoulos Foreign Policy Advisor Lying to FBI Plead guilty, sentenced to 14 days in prison
Richard Gates Trump Campaign Aide Financial Fraud, Lying to FBI Plead guilty
Michael Cohen Trump’s Personal Lawyer Tax evasion, bank fraud, campaign finance violations Plead guilty, sentencing pending
Scott Pruitt Administrator of EPA Subject of 13 federal investigations, including ethics, destruction of evidence and misappropriation of federal funds “Resigned” under pressure July 5. Investigations still open
Rob Porter White House Staff Secretary Multiple allegations of domestic violence “Resigned” under pressure
Tom Price Secretary of Health and Human Services Misuse of taxpayer funds; 26 chartered flights in 232 days “Resigned” under pressure
Allen Weisselberg Chief Financal Officer, The Trump Organization Unknown Granted immunity from prosecution
David Pecker Publisher, National Enquirer, Trump Confidante Unknown Granted immunity from prosecution
W. Samuel Patten Lobbyist and Trump Supporter, Tied to Manafort Acting as Unregistered Lobbyist, Lying to Congress Plead guilty, signed cooperation agreement

Five guilty pleas. Eight guilty verdicts. More than 20 indictments. That is, as others have noted, a lot of witches in Trump’s “witch hunt.”

(WC isn’t even going to list the former communications staffers who have perjured themselves. There’s not enough room.)

This table only begins to hint at the dumpster fire that is the Trump Administration, For a completer list, see the Wikipedia article. The New York Times is trying to keep up, too, and has its own list.

At some point you have to ask why Trump’s administration suffers from this level of record-setting turnover. Partly, WC guesses, it’s because Trump manages by chaos. Perhaps more importantly, like former White House Counsel Don McGahn, they are getting out while their reputations are still partially untarnished, before Trump can drag them down.

If you don’t think the turmoil matters, you don’t understand how government works.

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