Despite his pledge to “drain the swamp,” Donald Trump has secretly installed hundreds of staffers at every agency in the federal government to “serve as his eyes and ears,” according to a recent report from ProPublica.
The non-profit news organization reports that more than 400 officials have been hired by the president without Senate confirmation, and many of them are lobbyists and right-wing conspiracy theorists – a stunning development after Trump spent the entire campaign promising to rid the federal government of career politicians and Washington insiders.
More from the report:
While President Trump has not moved to fill many jobs that require Senate confirmation, he has quietly installed hundreds of officials to serve as his eyes and ears at every major federal agency, from the Pentagon to the Department of Interior.
Unlike appointees exposed to the scrutiny of the Senate, members of these so-called “beachhead teams” have operated largely in the shadows, with the White House declining to publicly reveal their identities.
While there is clearly a large group of officials inside the federal government – many of them holdovers from the Obama administration – resisting Trump and often leaking information to the media, the president appears to be secretly expanding his reach into every level of the executive branch of government.
What’s most troubling is the people Trump is installing. As ProPublica points out, many of the hundreds of staffers being quietly placed in the government are lobbyists and conspiracy theorists.
The list [ProPublica] obtained includes obscure campaign staffers, contributors to Breitbart and others who have embraced conspiracy theories, as well as dozens of Washington insiders who could be reasonably characterized as part of the “swamp” Trump pledged to drain.
The list is striking for how many former lobbyists it contains: We found at least 36, spanning industries from health insurance and pharmaceuticals to construction, energy and finance. Many of them lobbied in the same areas that are regulated by the agencies they have now joined.
ProPublica has obtained a list of more than 400 people hired by the Trump administration to fill key roles across the federal government.
That figure is almost certainly an undercount since we only included those who formally registered as lobbyists, a process increasingly avoided by many in Washington.
During the campaign, Trump said he would have “no problem” banning lobbyists from his administration. But they have nonetheless ended up in senior roles, aided by Trump’s weakening of Obama-era ethics rules that modestly limited lobbyists’ role in government.
While this is yet another promise abandoned by a president with no principles, there is something about this revelation that is particularly disturbing, especially since these staffers have now “taken on significant influence” within the government, according to ProPublica.
Of course, none of this will help the “forgotten men and women” that Trump promised to represent as president. Nothing about Trump’s shadow appointments will make America great again.
It’s one thing to keep the “swamp” intact; it’s something entirely different and more frightening to fill it up with more Washington insiders and Steve Bannon-like extremists.
Sean Colarossi currently resides in Cleveland, Ohio. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and was an organizing fellow for both of President Obama’s presidential campaigns. He also worked with Planned Parenthood as an Affordable Care Act Outreach Organizer in 2014, helping northeast Ohio residents obtain health insurance coverage.