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Trump World's personnel troubles take a troubling turn

Donald Trump's promise to only hire "the best people" isn't working out especially well.
This image shows the severely damaged St. John's Regional Medical Center in Joplin, MO.
This image shows the severely damaged St. John's Regional Medical Center in Joplin, MO.

Donald Trump's promise to only hire "the best people" isn't working out especially well. Indeed, while this president has struggled on several fronts, his personnel difficulties are among the most embarrassing.

It's probably best to think about the staffing issues in groups. For example, Trump has tapped a variety of officials to lead government agencies whose work they fundamentally oppose. The president has also appointed several officials who've either quit or been fired after exceedingly brief tenures.

But as we discussed in November, perhaps the most striking group consists of people Trump has put in positions of power despite serious questions about their qualifications. A political pollster, for example, is overseeing the White House's efforts to combat the opioid overdose epidemic. A retired brain surgeon is in charge of Housing and Urban Development. Eric Trump's former wedding planner was nominated to run federal HUD operations in New York and New Jersey.

Politico recently reported that the president's appointees to jobs at Agriculture Department headquarters "include a long-haul truck driver, a country club cabana attendant and the owner of a scented-candle company."

And don't even get me started on Don Benton overseeing the Selective Service System.

Over the weekend, the Wall Street Journal put a spotlight on a possible addition to the list: Robert Weaver, a 39-year-old nominee who apparently lacks a college degree, to lead the Indian Health Service.

President Donald Trump's nominee to lead the troubled Indian Health Service appears to have misrepresented his work experience at a Missouri hospital to a Senate committee, according to former employees at the hospital. [...][F]ormer St. John's managers in some of the areas where he said he worked don't remember him: "I don't recall that name whatsoever," said Augusto Noronha, who was chief financial officer of the hospital from 1999 until 2005."I've never heard that name before," said Wayne Noethe, a former controller at the hospital.

Wait, it gets worse.

There's clear evidence that Weaver did, in fact, work at St. John's Regional Medical Center in Joplin, Mo., but according to one of his former colleagues, he held an "entry level" job. According to his resume, however, he held "various hospital administration positions, including managing all accounts receivable, budgets, patient access and physician recruitment."

Perhaps he worked his way up to those responsibilities? The Journal's article added that Weaver's copies of his employment records were destroyed by a tornado, making it difficult to substantiate his claims, though this doesn't explain why relevant hospital officials don't remember having worked with him.

But that's not the best part. This is the best part.

Asked by the Journal what constituted his IHS experience, the [Department of Health and Human Services'] spokeswoman said he had needed the system as a patient, especially when he was a child, and pointed to his career in health care.

Not to put too fine a point on this, but we're talking about a $6 billion federal agency that "oversees medical care for more than 2 million Native Americans." The fact that Trump's nominee relied on an Indian Health Service hospital as a child does not mean he has the necessary background to lead the agency.

The fact that the Trump administration presented this as an argument in Weaver's favor doesn't exactly help his case.