Donald Trump's personal executive agency axe man, John McEntee, is making major hiring and firing decisions by going over the heads of agencies and even cabinet heads to ensure 100% loyalty to Dear Leader.
President Trump, in a highly unusual new effort, has begun making significant staffing changes inside top federal agencies without the consent — and, in at least one case, without even the knowledge — of the agency head, according to officials familiar with the effort.
Why it matters: This campaign — helmed by Trump's loyalty enforcer, a 30-year-old former body man who now runs hiring for the government — is part of the systematic purging or reassigning of those deemed insufficiently supportive of Trump.
The effort's pace has alarmed top officials, according to 11 current and former officials with direct knowledge of the situation.
Behind the scenes: Trump has empowered John McEntee, director of the Presidential Personnel Office, in a way his predecessors never were. In his short time on the job, McEntee has flexed this power, steamrolling Cabinet officials and agency heads to install his chosen candidates.
An extraordinary scene played out late in the morning on March 26, according to two administration officials with direct knowledge of the events, when Chad Wolf, the acting secretary of homeland security, learned he would have a new head of public affairs at his agency.
A crucial position such as this would normally be appointed only with the agency head’s support. But Wolf learned about his new public affairs chief, Alexei Woltornist, by reading the White House's public press release.
Wolf was furious, according to these sources. He called the White House Situation Room to try to reach McEntee to find out how this could happen without his knowledge, let alone consent. And he complained privately to colleagues about how PPO treated him.
McEntee's PPO has also clashed with the acting chief of immigration and customs enforcement over personnel, as Politico first reported.
The other side: Wolf is an acting Cabinet secretary, so McEntee can overrule him on staffing in a way he wouldn’t do with a favored Cabinet official like Mike Pompeo. And given the importance that both the president and his conservative allies place on immigration, they are determined to install their preferred political appointees at the Department of Homeland Security.
If all of this seems very, very Soviet Politburo to anyone my age or older, that's because it is. Trump is compelling ongoing loyalty tests and those who fail get removed.
Who would want to work for the guy in the first place though?
Why, the people who think Soviet-style governance in America is a good idea.