The White House is seen under dark rain clouds in Washington, DC, on June 1, 2015. 
Photo by Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP/Getty

New report helps explain Trump World’s many vetting failures

There are 652 key positions in the executive branch that require Senate confirmation, and as of this morning, Donald Trump’s White House hasn’t nominated anyone for one-third of those posts. Making matters slightly worse, when the president does choose people for vacancies, it often seems as if the White House hasn’t made any serious attempt at vetting these nominees before they reach Capitol Hill for consideration.

And why is Team Trump failing so spectacularly in this area? The Washington Post answered that question in amazing detail over the weekend, taking a closer look at Trump’s White House Presidential Personnel Office (PPO) and its role “hobbling the Trump administration’s efforts to place qualified people in key posts across government.”

[T]wo office leaders have spotty records themselves: a college dropout with arrests for drunken driving and bad checks and a Marine Corps reservist with arrests for assault, disorderly conduct, fleeing an officer and underage drinking.

The Presidential Personnel Office (PPO) is little known outside political circles. But it has far-reaching influence as a gateway for the appointed officials who carry out the president’s policies and run federal agencies.

Under President Trump, the office was launched with far fewer people than in prior administrations. It has served as a refuge for young campaign workers, a stopover for senior officials on their way to other posts and a source of jobs for friends and family, a Washington Post investigation found. One senior staffer has had four relatives receive appointments through the office.

The article added that the PPO offices – where, incidentally, I was briefly an intern in 1995 – have become “something of a social hub,” with young aides from other departments going there to “hang out on couches and smoke electronic cigarettes.” Gatherings at the PPO offices have apparently included drinking games and “happy hours.”

The Post’s impressive reporting describes an understaffed personnel office led by some inexperienced aides with checkered pasts. Among the PPO’s core goals are (1) recruiting potential federal employees, and (2) vetting nominees. In this White House, the office appears to be struggling to do either.

“No administration has done it as poorly as the current one,” Max Stier, president and chief executive of the nonpartisan Partnership for Public Service, told the Post.

Trump assured voters he’d choose “only with the best and most serious people” for his executive branch. Add it to the list of the president’s broken promises.

White House

New report helps explain Trump World's many vetting failures