- Trump burrowed at least 26 political appointees into career jobs during his last year in office.
- Their appointments to civil servant positions make it harder for Biden’s administration to fire them.
- At least nine more Trump appointments are awaiting review.
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President Donald Trump appointed 26 political appointees into career civilian positions, with at least nine more appointments awaiting review, The Washington Post reported.
Their appointments into a number of agencies, many of whom did not announce the placements, make it harder for President Joe Biden to fire them.
“The incoming Biden-Harris administration is keenly aware of last-minute efforts by the outgoing administration to convert political appointees into civil service positions,” a transition official told The Post.
“We anticipate learning more in the weeks ahead as our work to restore trust and accountability across the federal government begins, including reviewing personnel actions during the Trump administration.”
On January 16, there was a furor after the National Security Agency went ahead with the installation of a Trump loyalist as general counsel. Acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller told the head of the NSA to install Ellis as general counsel by 6 p.m. on Saturday. The next day, the agency said Ellis would start the day before Biden was sworn in.
He is now on administrative leave while the Department of Defense inspector general investigates his appointment. However, his appointment garnered criticism from national security legal experts as a move to politicize a non-political role.
The Post reported that officials are also burrowed in mainly senior roles in the Department of Homeland Security and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
Additionally, some appointed officials have received substantial raises. Jordan Von Bokern went from making $93,642 as a counsel in the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Policy to making $109,366 as a career trial attorney in the agency’s civil division, The Post reported.
In another instance, Brandon Middleton was hired by Attorney General Jeff Sessions to work in the Justice Department’s environmental division. He was then a deputy solicitor at the Interior Department before taking a permanent job as the Energy Department’s chief counsel, where he received a $10,000 raise to now make $172,508, The Post reported.
Middleton now works in a department that manages contracts for cleaning up toxic waste, but before being appointed to a role in any government department, he was a lawyer who fought the Endangered Species Act for the conservative Pacific Legal Foundation.
“If I was at Energy, I would be looking at Mr. Middleton very warily,” Nick Schwellenbach, a senior investigator at the nonprofit Project on Government Oversight, told The Post.
So far, the Office of Personnel Management, which approves hire requests from federal agencies, has rejected 14 of the Trump administration’s requests between January and November 2020.
Since Trump left office, there’s been a number of reports on his efforts to politicize federal agencies. In the days leading up to Congress certifying Biden’s victory in the 2020 election, Trump reportedly plotted with a Justice Department lawyer to have him replace acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen so he could help with the effort to overturn the election.
The former president spent his final weeks in office alleging baseless claims of mass voter fraud, which eventually led to some of his supporters breaching the US Capitol and halting the joint session of Congress as lawmakers were set to certify the election results. The attack left five people dead.
The House has since impeached him on a charge of inciting an insurrection. The Senate will soon hold a trial and vote on whether to convict the former president. He is the only president in US history to be impeached twice.