Earlier this week, in an appearance on Fox News, Trump confirmed his beliefs that Obama is behind the litany of leaks that have plagued his administration over the past couple of months.
“No, I think he [Obama] is behind it, because his people are certainly behind it. I also think it is politics, that’s the way it is.”
Trump on protests: “I think that President Obama is behind it” pic.twitter.com/vvxNyV22NU
— Bradd Jaffy (@BraddJaffy) February 28, 2017
And while the source of the leaks may be easy to deduce, the appropriate response is not so easy to implement. That said, there is a growing chorus of advisers to the President who are urging him to purge the government of former Obama political appointees and quickly install more people who are loyal to him.
Newt Gingrich is among those calling for such a purge…per Politico:
“His playbook should be to get rid of the Obama appointees immediately,” said Newt Gingrich, a top surrogate. “There are an amazing number of decisions that are being made by appointees that are totally opposed to Trump and everything he stands for. Who do you think those people are responding to?”
Gingrich added: “Ninety-five percent of the bureaucrats are against him.”
Meanwhile, Gingrinch offered a backhanded compliment to Schumer, saying “I didn’t get it early on. This is not about slowing down the Cabinet. This is about keeping working control of the government for Obama. It’s actually very shrewd on Schumer’s part.”
Gingrich said he blamed Sen. Chuck Schumer for slow-walking the nominees, though Schumer’s office notes that many of the picks were not properly vetted: At least three have already dropped out. The Office of Government Ethics remains overwhelmed with applications now, “but they are beginning to catch up,” one person involved in the nominations said. At many agencies, no top positions are filled, which means the layers of political appointees that report to them haven’t been picked, either.
“I didn’t get it early on. This is not about slowing down the Cabinet. This is about keeping working control of the government for Obama,” Gingrich said. “It’s actually very shrewd on Schumer’s part. Trump is not going to have control of the government until at least June.”
Roger Stone also chimed in on the debate saying the Trump administration should have cut ties with Obama’s staff “a long time ago, a long, long time ago.”
“If you employ people who aren’t loyal to you, you can’t be surprised when they leak,” said Roger Stone, another longtime adviser. A third person close to Trump said: “He should have gotten these people who are out to get him out a long time ago, a long, long time ago. I think they know that now.”
“You hire a bunch of people in the West Wing who are hacks and aren’t loyal to you, and you’ll have a bunch of leaks,” Stone said. “There aren’t that many Trump loyalists in the White House.”
Of course, in reality, Trump’s problems go much deeper than just the remaining Obama appointees as government agencies around Washington D.C. are staffed with 1,000s of career civil servants, many of whom loath President Trump’s administration and its agenda.
The reality, however, is more complicated: The White House has thousands of open jobs across the agencies, many nonpolitical civilian employees are critical of the administration, and some Cabinet secretaries say they need the Obama people during a rocky transition.
Only a few dozen Obama political appointees remain in the federal government apparatus, according to the Partnership for Public Service. Many of them are in crucial positions, including Robert Work, a top official at the Department of Defense, and Thomas Shannon, the acting deputy at the State Department.
Even if Trump were to ax those remaining senior political appointees, he would still have to reckon with the hundreds of thousands of civilian employees, who stay with every administration. Many of them are skeptical of Trump because they resent his assault on Washington and its culture, his impulsive decisions and his seeming lack of intellectual curiosity about their agencies and work.
The swamp seems to be much deeper than anyone could have predicted.