The FBI investigation into possible collusion between Russian intelligence officials and the Trump campaign will have a chilling effect on the productivity of an already beleaguered White House for a number of reasons. But likely the biggest reason is the ability of the president to fill key roles in the administration. Here’s a quick look at the issue:
- Timing – When scandals and special prosecutors beset the Clinton, Reagan and Nixon administrations, they were all several years into their terms with a full and fully functioning staff in place and legislative agendas gaining momentum. At about 120 days, this is the earliest a major investigation has been launched in the modern presidential era.
- Openings – While there was a flurry of hiring activity preceding the 100 day benchmark, NPR reported last month that the Trump administration was significantly behind his predecessors in filling important roles in the administration. As of the end of April, only 25 out of 556 key positions had been confirmed by the Senate and, in fact, the Trump administration had not yet submitted nominees for 400 of the positions. As scandal swirls and the administration limps into the summer, the most talented and experienced leaders are likely to steer clear of service.
- Scope – The scope of Robert Moeller’s investigation is sufficiently broad to unearth most any kind of wrongdoing along the way. Remember: President Clinton didn’t even meet Monica Lewinsky until about 18 months after Ken Starr began his Whitewater Investigation. Signing on for a gig at a White House that is under investigation is an invitation to potentially bring everything you’ve done in the past (and events that have not yet happened) into the path of a dogged, determined, and seasoned investigator.
The consequences of President Trump’s actions and carelessness will clearly have an impact on his ability to govern the country effectively starting with his ability to assemble a competent team.
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