The Columbus Dispatch - - Nation&world - Jwehrman@ dis­patch.com @jes­si­cawehrman jtorry@dis­patch.com @jack­torry1

Tiller­son be­comes the sec­ond cabi­net of­fi­cer, af­ter Tom Price of Health and Hu­man Ser­vices, to be forced from his job. But Trump also fired FBI Di­rec­tor James Comey, pushed Deputy FBI Di­rec­tor An­drew McCabe into re­tir­ing and pri­vately threat­ened to push out At­tor­ney Gen­eral Jeff Ses­sions, who he re­port­edly de­rides as “Mr. Ma­goo.”

The chaos has been even greater on the White House staff, which has seen a dizzy­ing pace of de­par­tures, in­clud­ing Gary Cohn, the di­rec­tor of the National Eco­nomic Coun­cil; national se­cu­rity ad­viser Michael Flynn; chief strate­gist Steve Ban­non; chief of staff Reince Priebus; deputy chiefs of staff Rick Dear­born and Katie Walsh; and spokesman Sean Spicer.

Trump has had two White House press sec­re­taries, four com­mu­ni­ca­tions di­rec­tors and two chiefs of staff. On Mon­day, Trump’s per­sonal as­sis­tant, John McEn­tee, was fired and es­corted out of the White House, re­port­edly in such haste that he left with­out his jacket.

“No one has ever seen any­thing like this,” said Tony Fratto, who served as deputy White House press sec­re­tary to Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush. “It’s be­wil­der­ing.”

A study pro­duced by Kathryn Dunn Ten­pas, a se­nior fel­low with Gov­er­nance Stud­ies with the Brook­ings In­sti­tu­tion in Wash­ing­ton, shows that dur­ing Trump’s first year as pres­i­dent, 34 per­cent of his se­nior White House staff left. That com­pares with 17 per­cent for Ron­ald Rea­gan’s first year, 11 per­cent for Bill Clin­ton and 9 per­cent for Barack Obama.

By con­trast, the U.S. Bureau of La­bor Sta­tis­tics showed that the turnover rate for the en­tire U.S. work­force last year was just 3.6 per­cent.

“Some turnover in the White House is healthy,” Ten­pas said. “You def­i­nitely want to be able to get rid of poor per­form­ers, move peo­ple around and pro­mote from within. But when turnover gets to be this high, then it raises ques­tions about morale in the build­ing. It clearly cre­ates dis­rup­tion and puts a bur­den on the peo­ple left be­hind.”

C. Danielle Vin­son, a pro­fes­sor of pol­i­tics and in­ter­na­tional af­fairs at Fur­man Univer­sity in South Carolina, said such tur­bu­lence af­fects civil ser­vants as well, call­ing the sweep­ing changes “dis­rup­tive.”

“And while it prob­a­bly works for the pres­i­dent in his world, most peo­ple — and my sense is most peo­ple in the fed­eral bu­reau­cracy — do not re­ally func­tion all that well with con­stant dis­rup­tion,” she said.

In some cases, those left be­hind are asked to pick up ad­di­tional tasks. Joe Ha­gin, a na­tive Ohioan and child­hood friend of Sen. Rob Port­man who lasted all eight years of the Ge­orge W. Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion, is serv­ing in two ca­pac­i­ties in the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion: as deputy chief of staff for op­er­a­tions and as di­rec­tor of sched­ul­ing, Ten­pas said. Ei­ther, she said, would typ­i­cally be con­sid­ered a full-time job. Other staff mem­bers, she said, also have been asked to dou­ble up and even triple their work­load.

The rapid changes in the cabi­net and se­nior staff are be­wil­der­ing on Capi­tol Hill, where Sen. Sher­rod Brown, D–Ohio, said the “turnover in the White House is mak­ing it harder and harder for U.S. al­lies abroad to take us se­ri­ously.”

In ad­di­tion, Fratto said “it’s not just mak­ing the change, but how the changes have oc­curred.” Cohn, who grew up in Shaker Heights, Ohio, and helped shep­herd the tax cut through Congress last year, was cut out of Trump’s de­ci­sion last week to im­pose tar­iffs on steel and alu­minum im­ports be­fore he re­signed.

Steve Gold­stein, the un­der­sec­re­tary of state for pub­lic af­fairs, asked to ex­plain Tiller­son’s fir­ing, said Tues­day that Tiller­son was “un­aware” why he was dis­missed and did not speak to Trump be­fore Trump an­nounced Tiller­son’s fir­ing via Twit­ter. In re­ply, the White House promptly fired Gold­stein.

Trump swiftly nom­i­nated CIA Di­rec­tor Mike Pom­peo as sec­re­tary of state, a move that prompted Brown to say he has “se­ri­ous con­cerns over whether Mike Pom­peo is the right per­son for the job.”

Trump’s abrupt de­ci­sion to fire Tiller­son was the cul­mi­na­tion in a re­la­tion­ship that has been fraught for months. When Trump nom­i­nated Tiller­son in De­cem­ber 2016, he said in a state­ment he could “think of no one more pre­pared, and no one more ded­i­cated, to serve as sec­re­tary of state at this crit­i­cal time in our his­tory.”

“Even on one of the most-press­ing di­plo­matic is­sues of the Trump pres­i­dency — North Korea — Trump has un­der­mined Tiller­son pub­licly,” said Mark Caleb Smith, di­rec­tor of the Cen­ter for Po­lit­i­cal Stud­ies at Cedarville Univer­sity. “Trump seems com­mit­ted to do­ing things state White House per­sonal as­sis­tant deputy White House chief of staff national se­cu­rity ad­viser FBI di­rec­tor press sec­re­tary com­mu­ni­ca­tions di­rec­tor com­mu­ni­ca­tions di­rec­tor Of­fice of Govern­ment ethics di­rec­tor White House chief of staff

sec­re­tary of Health and Hu­man Ser­vices di­rec­tor of the National Eco­nomic Coun­cil FBI deputy di­rec­tor strate­gist of staff gen­eral

chief deputy as­sis­tant to the pres­i­dent di­rec­tor of com­mu­ni­ca­tions for White House Of­fice of Pub­lic Li­ai­son White House staff sec­re­tary Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion di­rec­tor com­mu­ni­ca­tions di­rec­tor deputy national se­cu­rity ad­viser deputy chief


as­so­ciate at­tor­ney gen­eral

di­rec­tor of Oval Of­fice op­er­a­tions

di­rec­tor of the Of­fice of Pub­lic Li­ai­son on his own, with­out the in­put of the State Depart­ment. All in­di­ca­tions are he ac­cepted the face-to-face meet­ing with Kim Jong Un with lit­tle in­put from his di­plo­matic corps.”

Dur­ing an in­ter­view with CNBC’s Squawk Box, Port­man, R–Ohio, said, “Pom­peo has got the re­spect at the State Depart­ment but also on the Hill.” But Port­man also said, “Tiller­son has done a good job. He comes to the For­eign Re­la­tions Com­mit­tee and talks to us fre­quently, and I wish him well.”


Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump speaks to re­porters Tues­day be­fore board­ing Ma­rine One on the South Lawn of the White House for his trip to Cal­i­for­nia. Trump was ques­tioned about his fir­ing of Sec­re­tary of State Rex Tiller­son and his nom­i­na­tion of CIA Di­rec­tor...

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