Now that it's been a whole week since Donald Trump was elected president, the task is upon him to actually, y'know, govern the country. And the first step in taking over control from the Obama administration is Trump hiring teams of advisers and White House staffers that will help him run things, eventually nominating cabinet officials to run various federal agencies. But just a week into Trump taking over the government he will soon rightfully control, there are already reasons to believe Trump has trouble running his transition team, let alone running the country.
Soon after Trump was elected, control of his transition team switched from New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, whose position was complicated due to his proximity to the "Bridgegate" corruption scandal, to the president-elect's running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence. In the wake of that leadership change, the transition team is reportedly jettisoning most of the work of Christie's transition team, along with much of their staff.
Tuesday morning, former Rep, Mike Rogers quit the transition team. Rogers, a former chair of the House Intelligence Committee, had been one of the key experienced hands on issues of national security in Trump's transition. But he was also a key Christie ally, and Trump's team has been replacing those.
Other experienced Republicans who had hoped to work with the Trump administration are expressing distaste for his team. Here's what Elliott A. Cohen, a veteran of the Bush State Department and foreign policy expert, tweeted about his experience trying to get involved with the new administration:
Regardless of my opinions on Trump or his presidency (and I don't have favorable ones), I feel that the president-elect needs what every good, competent leader needs: smart people who can disagree with him. And a Trump transition team that continues the worst staff dysfunction of the Trump campaign, that is excising people loyal to a previous manager, makes me worried that it will lack that.
There are many actions of the president that, regardless of ideology, need to be executed competently — dealing with natural disasters (what if president Trump has a Katrina or Sandy on his watch?), handling basic economic and national security functions, ensuring that the federal bureaucracy runs smoothly, and appointing nonpartisan positions like chairman of the Federal Reserve. As someone who cares about the stability and success of the United States, I would hope that Trump has the best of the best working for him in these moments, not just loyalists who escaped a staff purge.
But even more importantly, Trump needs smart people to disagree with him on the most worrying aspects of his presidency. During the campaign, Trump praised dictators for their autocratic rule, appeared to encourage violence among his supporters, and often used divisive, arguably racist rhetoric without thought of consequences.
A Trump presidency that is staffed by yes-men, his own family members, and hard right loyalists celebrated by racists could exacerbate Trump's worst impulses, instead of keeping them in check. For the sake of the country, we should all hope that people like Cohen and Rogers change their mind and work with Trump.