U.S. President Donald Trump addresses members of his cabinet and the news media as he holds a cabinet meeting at the White House in Washington, U.S., August...
Kevin Lamarque

Trump in ‘no hurry’ to get Senate-confirmed cabinet secretaries

The Rachel Maddow Show, 1/2/19, 9:00 PM ET

Trump cabinet even swampier after New Year's transition

Rachel Maddow looks at how the new year has brought new top level turnover in the Donald Trump administration, leaving Trump surrounded by even more former lobbyists and conflicted staffers.
Rachel Maddow looks at how the new year has brought new top level turnover in the Donald Trump administration, leaving Trump surrounded by even more former lobbyists and conflicted staffers.
Several key members of Donald Trump’s cabinet are there in an “acting” capacity. They weren’t nominated for their posts; they weren’t considered or confirmed by the Senate; and in theory, they’ll soon by replaced by actual cabinet secretaries who’ll fill the offices in the proper way.

In practice, however, the president doesn’t exactly seem eager to follow the process. The Washington Post  reported yesterday:

“Well, I’m in no hurry,” Trump told reporters outside the White House before departing for Camp David. “I have ‘acting.’ And my actings are doing really great.”

He praised acting interior secretary David Bernhardt and acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, saying they are “doing great” in their temporary roles.

“I sort of like ‘acting,’ ” Trump said. “It gives me more flexibility; do you understand that?”

Is that a rhetorical question? Because it’s not at all clear what kind of “flexibility” the president needs in this area and why he considers it a priority.

Indeed, as Rachel noted on the show the other day, recent departures from Trump’s cabinet have created some awfully swamp-like conditions for the Republican’s cabinet. As Ryan Zinke ends his scandal-plagued tenure at the Department of the Interior, for example, his acting successor is David Bernhardt, a former oil lobbyist.

At the Pentagon, former Secretary James Mattis’ office is now being filled by Patrick Shanahan, a former executive at a major defense contractor. At the EPA, the acting administrator is Andrew Wheeler, a former coal lobbyist. At the Justice Department, the acting attorney general is Matthew Whitaker, who shouldn’t be there for a wide variety of reasons.

None of these people have been confirmed to lead their respective cabinet agencies, and according to the president, he’s in “no hurry” to disrupt the “flexibility” his team of “actings” currently provides him.

If Trump wants to help us “understand” why he’s trying to govern this way, I’m all ears.