The turnover among President Trump administration officials continues to climb. The latest White House exit is Anthony Scaramucci, who served as communications director for about 10 days. Other prominent departures include former chief of staff Reince Priebus, communications director Sean Spicer, FBI Director James Comey and national security advisor Michael Flynn. Columbia College political scientist Terry Smith calls the increasing number ‘unprecedented’.
“A number of the people who have come into government are not from government. This is all new to them,” says Smith. Part of it is just what’s going on in Washington, D.C. itself. It’s worth kind of looking at the tiers of people, too, in the sense of the real players. Some of them are true believers, they’re there because they want to help advance the Trump agenda. Some of them go because D.C. is where it’s at and some of them go because whatever happens, the next job is going to be awfully cool.”
Smith says there’s a big payoff for having Washington connections, even if the chosen ones might have a short tenure and leave under trying circumstances. He expects the trend of outsiders in the Trump administration to continue.
“He (Trump) doesn’t know anybody in D.C.,” says Smith. “They’re outsiders to Washington. They’re not necessarily outside the economic establishment. Just look at where some of his cabinet people are from.”
Smith points to vacancy problems with administration officials during the Bill Clinton era. At the beginning of Clinton’s administration, he went through three attorneys general before one was confirmed. Smith says Clinton struggled to get some cabinet members to jump on board or be confirmed by the U.S. Senate. Whereas Trump has a hard time getting his people to stick around.
Trump critics might blame the turnover level on “shoot from the hip” comments the president is known for making or his continued efforts to bash a variety of officials on Twitter. They might also suggest that people in his administration don’t want to be involved in Trump’s alleged connection to Russia’s meddling of America’s elections.