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

April 9, 2019

“All of this chaos has one source, one source only: The President of the United States and his erratic, vacillating attitude towards policy and personnel. Across a broad spectrum of issues, his policies are so extreme that even good-faith nominees eventually face a choice: leave the administration or be consumed by the quicksand of the Trump swamp. I hope that the president or some of the people around him will realize that his administration is far from a fine-tuned machine – it’s a slow motion disaster machine that the American people see in action every day,” said Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer.

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. A New York Times analysis found that the Trump administration had unusually high turnover in top White House and Cabinet positions. An NPR study found that the Trump administration has had the most Cabinet turnover of any administration in more than 100 years. According to the Washington Post, “the lack of permanent leaders has started to alarm top congressional Republicans who are pressing for key posts to be filled.”

Major Nominations Withdrawn Or Defeated For Radical Views, Scandalous Behavior, Absence Of Qualifications, And Lack Of Bipartisan Support.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. Since the start of his administration, more than 40 of President Trump’s nominations have been withdrawn.

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 administration.

Crucial Positions Across The Government Still Lack Nominees. The Trump administration has failed to submit nominees to more than one hundred key positions.  The Presidential Personnel Office has reportedly been hampered by “inexperience and a shortage of staff.” 


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.” [NY 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.” [NYT, 9/29/17]


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.” [NYT, 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.” [NY Times, 2/2/18]

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.” [NYT, 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]

Other Nominations Withdrawn:

Jim Clinger (FDIC Chairman)

George Nesterczuk (OPM Director)

Paul Trombino (FHA Admin.)

Vincent Viola (Army Secretary)

Philip Bilden (Navy Secretary)

Robert Weaver (IHS Director)

Ryan Nelson (DOI Solicitor)

Todd Ricketts (Dep. Commerce Sec.)

Jim Donovan (Dep. Treasury Sec.)

Charles Cook III (DHS CFO)

Susan Thornton (Asst. Sec. of State)

Anthony Kurta (Principal Dep. Under Sec. of Defense)

Andrew Gellert (Ambassador to Chile)

Timothy Kelly (Asst. Sec. of Ed.)

Ronald Vitiello (Assistant Secretary of DHS for ICE)

Heather Nauert (Ambassador to the UN)


Adam Lerrick (Assistant Treasury Secretary)

Dean L. Winslow (Assistant Secretary of Defense)

Anne W. Patterson (Defense Undersecretary for Policy)

Thomas Homan (Assistant Secretary of DHS for ICE)

David Ehrhart (General Counsel of the Air Force)

Ryan Newman (General Counsel of the Army)

Victor Cha (Ambassador to South Korea)

Edward Masso (Ambassador to Estonia)

Johnathan Miller (Asst. Administrator of USAID)

Mark Montgomery (Asst. Administrator of USAID)

Jay Patrick Murray (Alternate Rep. to the UN)

Eric Ueland (Under Secretary of State for Management)

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

Daniel Craig (Deputy Administrator of FEMA)

Calvin Tucker (USPS Governor)

Andrew Maunz (Merit Systems Protection Board Member)

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



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): 

“Mr. President, I intend to object to any unanimous consent requests at the present time relating to the nominations of David J. Ryder, of New Jersey, to be Director of the Mint, and of Isabel Marie Keenan Patelunas, of Pennsylvania, to be Assistant Secretary for Intelligence and Analysis, Department of the Treasury.” [Congressional Record, 12/20/17; Other Holds: AP, 10/17/17; Roll Call, 6/15/17; Washington Post, 3/14/17; Congressional Record, 3/12/18]

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. 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. Mike Lee (R-UT)

Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS)

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL)

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

Pam Patenaude (Dep. HUD Sec.)

Robert Karem (Asst. Sec. of Defense)

Robert Powelson (FERC Commissioner)

Mary Kirtley Waters (Asst. Sec. of State)

Douglas Webster (CFO at Dept. of Ed.)

Neal Rackleff (Asst. HUD Sec.)

Steve Goldstein (Under Sec. of State)

Thomas Bowman (Dep. VA Sec.)

Rachel Brand (Associate AG)

Brock Long (FEMA Administrator)

Scott Gottlieb (FDA Administrator)

Chris Campbell (Asst. Treasury Sec.)

Jeff Pon (OPM Director)

Andrew Maloney (Treasury Dep. Undersecretary)

A. Wess Mitchell (Asst. Sec. of State)

Althea Coetzee (SBA Dep. Administrator)

Katherine McGuire (Asst. Sec. of Labor)

Suzanne Tufts (Asst. HUD Sec.)

Jay Gibson (DOD Chief Management Officer)

Elaine Duke (Deputy DHS Sec.)

Ray Washburne (Overseas Private Investment Corporation President)

Jay Gibson (DOD Chief Management Officer)

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

Carlos Muñiz (General Counsel at Dept. of Ed.)


Crucial Positions Across the Government STILL Lack Nominees

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

Department of Agriculture positions that have never had nominees include Undersecretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services.

Department of Defense positions that have never had nominees include Inspector General; Assistant Secretary for Reserve Affairs; and Assistant Secretary for Research and Engineering.

Department of Education positions that have never had nominees include Inspector General; and Assistant Secretary for Communications and Outreach.

Department of Homeland Security positions that have never had nominees include Assistant Secretary for Policy.

Department of the Interior positions that have never had nominees include Assistant Secretary for Fish, Wildlife and Parks; and Director of the Bureau of Land Management.

Department of Justice positions that have never had nominees include Director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration; Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Programs Division; and Assistant Attorney General for the Tax Division.

Department of Labor positions that have never had nominees include Assistant Secretary for Disability Employment Policy.

Department of State positions that have never had nominees include Chief Financial Officer; and Assistant Secretary for Oceans and International, Environmental and Scientific Affairs.  Ambassadorships that have never had nominees include Cuba, Egypt, Georgia, Jordan, Pakistan, Panama, Tanzania, and Thailand.

Department of Transportation positions that have never had nominees include Assistant Secretary for Budget and Programs and Chief Financial Officer; and Assistant Secretary for Transportation Policy.

Department of the Treasury positions that have never had 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 that have never had nominees include Undersecretary for Health.

Environmental Protection Agency positions that have never had nominees include Assistant Administrator for Administration and Resources Management; Assistant Administrator for Environmental Information; and Assistant Administrator for Research and Development.