Never-Ending Chaos Continues To Define President Trump’s Administration

June 20, 2019

Major Nominations Withdrawn Or Defeated For Radical Views, Scandalous Behavior, Absence Of Qualifications, And Lack Of Bipartisan Support. Many nominees to high-ranking executive branch positions have been forced to withdraw once their past controversies have come to light. Some of President Trump’s judicial nominees have been forced to withdraw due to a clear lack of qualifications or views that are wildly out of the mainstream. Since the start of his administration, more than 70 of President Trump’s announced nominations have been withdrawn.

Trump Cabinet Clouded By A Constant Stream Of Firings And Resignations. At the highest levels, the Trump administration has been unable to work consistently for the American people because of an extraordinary number of firings and resignations, many of them due to outrageous scandals and infighting within the Trump administration. An analysis by FiveThirtyEight found that the rate of turnover in the Trump Cabinet is “unprecedented in recent history.” According to data published by the Associated Press, more than half of the 42 individuals who have served in top Trump administration positions have done so in an “acting” capacity.

Nearly Half Of Republican Senators Have Blocked At Least One Trump Nominee. 24 Republican senators have held up at least one Trump nominee. Multiple Republican senators, including Republican committee chairmen, have delayed or derailed multiple Trump nominees.

Turnover In The Administration Has Resulted In A Never-Ending List Of Vacancies.  Senate-confirmed officials nominated by President Trump continue to leave their posts in the Trump administration.

Crucial Positions Across The Government Still Lack Nominees. The Trump administration has failed to submit nominees to more than one hundred key positions. 


Patrick Shanahan (Secretary of Defense):  “Acting defense secretary Patrick Shanahan withdrew from consideration to be confirmed as Pentagon chief on Tuesday, President Trump said, plunging the Pentagon into leadership upheaval for the second time in six months.” [Washington Post, 6/18/19]

Andrew Puzder (Secretary of Labor): “The fast-food executive Andrew F. Puzder withdrew his nomination to be labor secretary on Wednesday as Republican senators turned sharply against him, the latest defeat for a White House besieged by infighting and struggling for traction even with a Republican-controlled Congress.” [New York Times, 2/15/17]

Ronny Jackson (Secretary of Veterans Affairs):  “Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson has withdrawn from consideration to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs after lawmakers received damaging allegations that he created a toxic work environment, drunkenly wrecked a car and maintained poor prescription records while serving in the federal government.” [Politico, 4/26/18]

Tom Marino (Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy):  “Marino is stepping back days after reports that legislation he sponsored hindered the Drug Enforcement Administration in its fight against the U.S. opioid crisis.” [NPR, 10/17/17]

Sam Clovis (Under Secretary of USDA):  “Clovis has come under criticism recently for his lack of science credentials and for his role supervising George Papadopoulos, a Trump campaign foreign policy adviser who struck a plea deal on charges he lied to FBI investigators about his communications with Russia-linked contacts.” [Politico, 11/2/17]

K.T. McFarland (US Ambassador to Singapore):  “Ms. McFarland’s nomination had become embroiled in the controversy over the Trump campaign’s contacts with Russian officials, with some senators left wondering if she had answered questions deceptively when asked if she knew of discussions between Michael T. Flynn, the former national security adviser, and a Russian ambassador.” [New York Times, 2/2/18]

Stephen Moore (Member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve):  “President Trump said he would not nominate Stephen Moore for a seat on the Federal Reserve board after several Republican lawmakers raised concerns about the conservative economist’s previous comments denigrating women.” [New York Times, 5/2/19]

Scott Garrett (President of the Export-Import Bank)1:  “Sens. Mike Rounds of South Dakota and Tim Scott of South Carolina joined all Democrats on the committee to oppose Scott Garrett, a critic of the Export-Import Bank who voted twice to eliminate it as a member of Congress.” [NBC News, 12/19/17]

Ryan Bounds (US Circuit Judge for the Ninth Circuit):  “Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) pulled the nomination of Ryan Bounds to serve on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals after it became clear Thursday that a number of Republicans would oppose him over racially-charged writings in Bounds's record.” [Politico, 7/19/18]

Brett Talley (US District Judge for the Middle District of Alabama):  “Talley had been rated ‘unanimously unqualified’ for the post by the American Bar Association this year after an evaluation that questioned his experience. Talley had never argued a case, or even a motion, in federal court, he testified.” [NPR, 12/13/17]

Jeff Mateer (US District Judge for the Eastern District of Texas):  “Jeff Mateer, a top lawyer for the state of Texas who has described transgender children as evidence of ‘Satan's plan,’ will not become a federal judge.” [Dallas Morning News, 12/13/17]

Matthew Petersen (US District Judge for the District of Columbia): “President Donald Trump’s judicial nominee Matthew Petersen has withdrawn his name from consideration after a video went viral of him failing to answer basic questions about law in his confirmation hearing, according to an aide to a senior member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.” [Huffington Post, 12/18/17]

Jonathan Katchen (US District Judge for the District of Alaska):  “Anchorage attorney Jonathan Katchen has withdrawn from his nomination to be a federal judge on the U.S. District Court for Alaska.” [Anchorage Daily News, 8/29/18]

Thomas Farr (US District Judge for the Eastern District of North Carolina):  “Sen. Tim Scott announced Thursday that he would oppose the nomination of President Trump’s judicial pick Thomas A. Farr, ending a bitter confirmation fight centered on questions over how much Farr knew about a decades-old effort to disenfranchise black voters in North Carolina.” [Washington Post, 11/29/18]

Damien Schiff (Judge for the US Court of Federal Claims):  “Damien Schiff, one of President Donald Trump's judicial nominees from last year who faced criticism for, among other things, writing that Justice Anthony Kennedy was a ‘judicial prostitute,’ withdrew from consideration for renomination earlier this year, Schiff told BuzzFeed News.” [BuzzFeed, 5/7/18]

Mark Green (Secretary of the Army):  “The decision by Green, Trump's second pick for the post, came after his nomination ran into trouble following a backlash after past controversial statements on LGBT issues, Islam and evolution were revealed.” [CNN, 5/5/17]

Michael Dourson (Assistant Administrator of the EPA):  “His withdrawal followed the release of several hundreds of pages of his correspondence with chemical industry officials while he was being considered for the E.P.A. job.” [New York Times, 12/13/17]

David Jonas (General Counsel of the Department of Energy)1:  “A Department of Energy nominee who co-wrote a piece in 1993 objecting to gay people serving in the military withdrew from consideration on Sunday.” [The Hill, 1/8/18]

Christopher Sharpley (CIA Inspector General):  “Christopher Sharpley, the acting Inspector General of the Central Intelligence Agency, is withdrawing his nomination after former colleagues alleged he retaliated against them for blowing the whistle on CIA IG officials' alleged mishandling of evidence.” [CNN, 7/20/18]

Kathleen Hartnett White (Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality):  “The White House has withdrawn its controversial nominee to head the Council on Environmental Quality, Kathleen Hartnett White, whose selection failed to gather momentum with some Senate Republicans raising questions about her expertise.” [Washington Post, 2/4/18]

Ann Marie Buerkle (CPSC Chairman):  “The head of the nation’s product safety regulator says she’s stepping down when her term ends in October, a surprise announcement that follows criticism for how the agency handled a recall of the Fisher-Price Rock ‘n Play and its decision to not force a recall of a jogging stroller.” [Washington Post, 6/18/19]

Other Nominations Withdrawn:

John Bartrum (Assistant Secretary of HHS)

Philip Bilden (Navy Secretary)

Michael Bright (President of Ginnie Mae)

Ann Marie Buerkle (CPSC Chairman)

Herman Cain (Member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve)

Victor Cha (Ambassador to South Korea)

Jim Clinger (FDIC Chairman)

Charles Cook III (DHS Chief Financial Officer)

Daniel Craig (Deputy Administrator of FEMA)

Louis DeJoy (Member of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation)

Dennis Devaney (Commissioner of the International Trade Commission)

Jim Donovan (Deputy Treasury Secretary)

John Edward Dupuy (OPM Inspector General)

David Ehrhart (General Counsel of the Air Force)

Chai Feldblum (EEOC Member)

Daniel Gade (EEOC Member)

J. Steven Gardner (Director of the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement)

Andrew Gellert (Ambassador to Chile)

Marvin Goodfriend (Member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve)

Thomas Homan (DHS Assistant Secretary for ICE)

Kathleen Kavalec (Ambassador to Albania)

Timothy Kelly (Assistant Secretary of Education)

Anthony Kurta (Principal Deputy Undersecretary of Defense)

Bryan Jarrett (DOL Assistant Secretary for Policy)

Adam Lerrick (Assistant Treasury Secretary)

Jean Nellie Liang (Member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve)

Joseph Macmanus (Ambassador to Colombia)

Edward Masso (Ambassador to Estonia)

Andrew Maunz (Merit Systems Protection Board Member)

Johnathan Miller (Assistant Administrator of USAID)

Mark Montgomery (Assistant Administrator of USAID)

Scott Mugno (DOL Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health)

Jay Patrick Murray (Alternate Representative to the UN)

Jeffrey Nadaner (Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Export Enforcement)

Heather Nauert (Ambassador to the UN)

Ryan Nelson (DOI Solicitor)

Ryan Newman (General Counsel of the Army)

George Nesterczuk (OPM Director)

Francisco Palmieri (Ambassador to Honduras)

Stephen Parente (HHS Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation)

Anne Patterson (Defense Undersecretary for Policy)

Mark Gaston Pearce (NLRB Member)

Mary Catherine Phee (Ambassador to Qatar)

Todd Ricketts (Deputy Commerce Secretary)

Aurelia Skipwith (Director of the US Fish and Wildlife Service)

Charles Stimson (General Counsel of the Navy)

Susan Thornton (Assistant Secretary of State)

Paul Trombino (FHA Administrator)

Calvin Tucker (USPS Governor)

Eric Ueland (Under Secretary of State for Management)

Vincent Viola (Army Secretary)

Ronald Vitiello (DHS Assistant Secretary for ICE)

Robert Weaver (Indian Health Service Director)

Robert Williams (Assistant Secretary of State for South Asian Affairs)

Dean Winslow (Assistant Secretary of Defense)


Kirstjen Nielsen (Secretary of Homeland Security):  “Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen abruptly resigned Sunday, as the president continues to fume over continued illegal border crossings.”  [CBS News, 4/8/19]

Linda McMahon (SBA Administrator):  “Linda E. McMahon, one of five women in President Trump’s cabinet and the former chief executive of World Wrestling Entertainment, stepped down on Friday as the head of the Small Business Administration, the White House announced.” [New York Times, 3/29/19]

James Mattis (Secretary of Defense):  “President Trump announced Thursday that Defense Secretary Jim Mattis would leave his position in February, marking the departure of an influential figure who has steered the Trump administration toward foreign policy continuity and restraint.” [Washington Post, 12/20/18]

Ryan Zinke (Secretary of the Interior):  “Interior Department Secretary Ryan Zinke submitted his resignation to the White House on Saturday, facing intense pressure to step down because of multiple probes tied to his real estate dealings in his home state of Montana and his conduct in office.” [Washington Post, 12/15/18]

Jeff Sessions (Attorney General):  “Attorney General Jeff Sessions resigned on Wednesday at President Trump’s request, ending the tenure of a loyalist Trump had soured on shortly after Sessions took office in 2017 because the former senator from Alabama had recused himself from oversight of the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign.” [Washington Post, 11/7/18]

Nikki Haley (Ambassador to the UN):  “President Donald Trump announced on Tuesday that US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley has resigned and will leave her post by the end of the year.” [CNN, 10/9/18]

Scott Pruitt (EPA Administrator):  “Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency and architect of President Trump’s aggressive effort to rewrite the government’s rule book on environmental regulations, resigned on Thursday in the face of numerous ethics investigations that doomed his tenure.” [New York Times, 7/5/18]

David Shulkin (Secretary of Veterans Affairs):  “The ouster of Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin, who has been mired in scandal over his charging taxpayers for luxury travel expenses and the infighting among his senior aides, had been widely expected and was made official at 5:31 p.m. by presidential tweet.” [Washington Post, 3/29/18]

Rex Tillerson (Secretary of State):  “President Trump has ousted Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and plans to nominate CIA Director Mike Pompeo to replace him as the nation’s top diplomat, orchestrating a major change to his national security team amid delicate negotiations with North Korea, White House officials said Tuesday.” [Washington Post, 3/13/18]

Tom Price (Secretary of Health and Human Services): “Tom Price, the health and human services secretary, resigned under pressure on Friday after racking up at least $400,000 in travel bills for chartered flights and undermining President Trump’s promise to drain the swamp of a corrupt and entitled capital.” [New York Times, 9/29/17]


Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY):

Roll Call: Holds On Energy And Environment Nominees Pile Up — Again. “Wyoming Republican John Barrasso, an Energy Committee member, is the latest senator to place a hold on a Trump Energy nominee, citing a policy difference affecting his state’s uranium mining industry.” [Roll Call, 1/22/18]

Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX):

Axios: John Cornyn Holds Up Top White House Nominee. “Texas Sen. John Cornyn is frustrating both administration officials and conservative movement leaders by holding up the confirmation of Russ Vought to be Mick Mulvaney's right hand man at the Office of Management and Budget.” [Axios, 10/19/17]

Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO):

Washington Examiner: Cory Gardner Vows To Hold Trump's Judicial Nominees Until Marijuana Decision Is Reversed. “Republican Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado said Thursday he would block all of President Trump's judicial nominees until the administration reverses its decision to rescind a policy that de-prioritized the enforcement of federal marijuana laws.” [Washington Examiner, 1/4/18]

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA): 

Wall Street Journal: Clock Ticks On Trump Intel Picks Stalled By Republicans. “Separately, Sen. Chuck Grassley, an Iowa Republican, has placed a hold on William Evanina, the president’s pick to head the National Counterintelligence and Security Center over a long-running fight with the intelligence community over access to highly classified documents. Mr. Grassley wants information about what Mr. Evanina told Vice President Mike Pence regarding the Russia investigation early in the Trump administration, and other documents about surveillance.” [Wall Street Journal, 11/22/18]

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI):

Government Executive:  Senator Threatens To Hold Up OPM Nominee Over Obamacare Rule Spat.  “The chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee threatened Wednesday to halt the confirmation of nominees to key positions at the Office of Personnel Management until he is confident the agency will comply with long-running requests for documents related to the Affordable Care Act’s implementation.’” [Government Executive, 10/18/17]

Sens. Mike Rounds (R-SD) and Tim Scott (R-SC):

NBC News:  Two Republicans Block Trump’s Ex-Im Bank Nominee Scott Garrett. “Two Republicans on the Senate Banking Committee helped to block President Donald Trump’s nominee to lead the Export-Import Bank in a critical vote Tuesday. Sens. Mike Rounds of South Dakota and Tim Scott of South Carolina joined all Democrats on the committee to oppose Scott Garrett, a critic of the Export-Import Bank who voted twice to eliminate it as a member of Congress.” [NBC News, 12/19/17]

Other Republican Senators Who Placed or Threatened Holds on Trump Nominees:

Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY)

Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX)

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)

Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA)

Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO)

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA)

Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK)

Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA)

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI)

Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT)

Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS)

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)

Sen. Mike Rounds (R-SD)

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL)

Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC)

Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-AK)

Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC)

Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA)

Sen. Todd Young (R-IN)

Then-Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN)

Then-Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ)

Then-Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV)

Then-Sen. John McCain (R-AZ)

Turnover in the Administration HAS RESULTED in a Never-Ending List of Vacancies

Thomas Bowman (VA Deputy Secretary)

Rachel Brand (Associate AG)

Chris Campbell (Assistant Treasury Secretary)

Francis Cissna (Director of USCIS)

Althea Coetzee (SBA Deputy Administrator)

Kelley Eckels Currie (Representative to the Economic and Social Council of the UN)

Robert Daigle (DOD Director of Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation)

Elaine Duke (Deputy DHS Secretary)

Jay Gibson (DOD Chief Management Officer)

Steve Goldstein (Undersecretary of State)

Scott Gottlieb (FDA Administrator)

Claire Grady (Undersecretary of DHS for Management)

Kevin Hassett (Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers)

Robert Karem (DOD Assistant Secretary)

Brock Long (FEMA Administrator)

Andrew Maloney (Treasury Deputy Undersecretary)

Katherine McGuire (Assistant Secretary of Labor)

A. Wess Mitchell (Assistant Secretary of State)

Carlos Muñiz (General Counsel at Department of Education)

Pam Patenaude (Deputy HUD Secretary)

Michael Platt (Assistant Commerce Secretary)

Jeff Pon (OPM Director)

Robert Powelson (FERC Commissioner)

Neal Rackleff (Assistant HUD Secretary)

David Redl (Assistant Commerce Secretary)

Rod Rosenstein (Deputy AG)

Patrick Shanahan (Deputy Secretary of Defense)

Suzanne Tufts (Assistant HUD Secretary)

Ray Washburne (Overseas Private Investment Corporation President)

Mary Kirtley Waters (Assistant Secretary of State)

Douglas Webster (CFO at Department of Education)

Heather Wilson (Air Force Secretary)

Crucial Positions Across the Government STILL Lack Nominees

Numerous positions across the federal government have no nominee submitted to the Senate.

Department of Agriculture positions without nominees include Undersecretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services.

Department of Commerce positions without nominees include Undersecretary for Economic Affairs; Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information; and Assistant Secretary for Export Enforcement.

Department of Defense positions without nominees include Secretary of Defense; General Counsel of the Navy; Chief Management Officer; Undersecretary for Personnel and Readiness; and Assistant Secretary for International Security Affairs.

Department of Education positions without nominees include General Counsel; Chief Financial Officer; Undersecretary; Assistant Secretary for Communications and Outreach.

Department of Health and Human Services positions without nominees include Assistant Secretary for Financial Resources; Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation; Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration; and Director of the Indian Health Services.

Department of Homeland Security positions without nominees include Secretary of Homeland Security; Deputy Secretary; Undersecretary for Management; and Director of the US Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Department of Housing and Urban Development positions without nominees include Deputy Secretary; Assistant Secretary for Administration; and Assistant Secretary for Community Planning and Development.

Department of the Interior positions without nominees include Deputy Secretary; Director of the Bureau of Land Management; Director of the National Park Service; Director of the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement; and Director of the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

Department of Justice positions without nominees include Associate Attorney General; Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Programs Division; Assistant Attorney General for the Tax Division; and Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Agency.

Department of Labor positions without nominees include Assistant Secretary for Congressional and Intergovernmental Affairs; Assistant Secretary for Disability Employment Policy; Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health; and Assistant Secretary for Policy.

Department of State positions without nominees include Chief Financial Officer; Undersecretary for Public Diplomacy; Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs; Assistant Secretary for Oceans and International, Environmental and Scientific Affairs; Assistant Secretary for South Asian Affairs.  Ambassadorships without nominees include Albania, Belize, Brazil, Chad, Chile, Cuba, Estonia, Georgia, Honduras, Jordan, Pakistan, Panama, Qatar, Singapore, Tanzania, and Thailand.

Department of Transportation positions without nominees include Deputy Secretary; and Assistant Secretary for Transportation Policy.

Department of the Treasury positions without nominees include Chief Financial Officer, Undersecretary for Domestic Finance; Assistant Secretary for Financial Markets; and Assistant Secretary for Financial Stability.

Department of Veterans Affairs positions without nominees include Undersecretary for Health.

Environmental Protection Agency positions without nominees include Deputy Administrator; Assistant Administrator for Administration and Resources Management; Assistant Administrator for Environmental Information; and Assistant Administrator for Research and Development.