In any other administration, constant staff turnover would be a clear sign of dysfunction and aimlessness. Under President Donald Trump, it’s an opportunity to stack his administration with loyalists and cable news personalities.
The highest-profile administration departure to date came on Tuesday with the firing of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and the nomination of Central Intelligence Agency Chief Mike Pompeo to replace him. Announced just as the U.S. eyes a historic diplomatic sit-down with North Korea leader Kim Jong-un, the move seemed on its face to be a particularly ill-timed shakeup. But for Trump, it meant the chance to bring the U.S. foreign policy apparatus more fully in line with Trumpism.
“It’s just figuring out your people. A fortune 500 CEO probably looked good to him on paper, but he meshes better with a junior rep from Kansas,” an administration official told The Daily Beast, referring to Pompeo, a former House member. “I wouldn’t read a seismic shift into it, but he’s definitely figuring out who he does and doesn’t like around him, and acting on it.”