Friday, May 05, 2017

Political officers sidelined as Trump's new team of lobbyists and Wall Street insiders takes power (mark Sumner) · Monday, May 01, 2017, 7:45 pm

One of the first things that Donald Trump did on taking power was to insert political officers at the various agencies. Charged with reporting back to Trump, these commissars formed a “shadow cabinet” that kept an eye out for signs of disloyalty. However, now that Trump’s actual cabinet is seated and busily subverting the purpose of the agencies they helm, that initial net of internal spies is being rolled up.

These White House-installed chaperones have often clashed with the Cabinet secretaries they were assigned to monitor, according to sources across the agencies, with the secretaries expressing frustration that the so-called “senior White House advisers” are mostly young Trump campaign aides with little experience in government.

Like Trump, the political officers were people who had no idea how their agencies worked, or how they fit into the overall government. They were just there to enforce Trump’s particular philosophical mix of white nationalism and carry back any reports of internal resistance. Now that a more knowledgeable wrecking crew is on hand, they’re being eased out or shoved aside.

Mnuchin assigned his minder to the Treasury basement, according to senior officials at the Treasury Department. Meanwhile, administration sources said Mattis blew up when his White House-assigned senior adviser insisted on reviewing one of his briefings. And EPA administrator Scott Pruitt’s senior leadership team repeatedly clashed with its uninvited guest, Don Benton, and iced him out of meetings, according to people close to EPA officials. Eventually Trump shifted Benton to a new job leading the Selective Service System.

The commissar corp’s displacement is part of Trump’s real “pivot”—from the faux populist economics and outsider rhetoric of the campaign, to the Goldman Sachs/lobbyist dominated machine now running the show.


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