And those vacancies are becoming a serious safety and security concern.
President Donald Trump’s volatile temperament, an intensifying investigation into his aides’ possible collusion with Russia, and his firing of FBI Director James Comey, have made it a challenge to recruit and fill top leadership posts across the government, according to the Washington Post.
The cloud of uncertainty hanging over the Trump administration has complicated what the Post described as an “already slow pace” in filling the government’s top ranks.
“Republicans say they are turning down job offers to work for a chief executive whose volatile temperament makes them nervous,” according to the Post, which interviewed 27 people — including federal officials, Republican party activists, lobbyists, as well as candidates who Trump officials have tried to recruit — as part of its investigation.
The White House told the Post it doesn’t have a hiring problem, and blamed the slow pace on the vetting process that each candidate must undergo before being announced publicly. But data cited by the Post shows that compared to Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush, Trump is lagging in confirmed appointees to senior posts: Trump currently has 43 appointees, compared to the 151 appointees by Obama as of mid-June of his first term, and 130 appointees by Bush.
Some vacancies, including the U.S. ambassador to Japan and the Navy secretary, became a diplomatic issue this weekend, as some criticized Trump’s delays for “leaving a communications vacuum” while the United States and Japan dealt with the collision of a container ship and a U.S. naval destroyer off the coast of Japan on Saturday.
The collision caused “significant damage” and flooding to the USS Fitzgerald, injured at least three crew members, and left seven sailors missing. On Saturday, the U.S. Navy announced that the remains of several of those missing sailors had been found in the “flooded berthing compartments.”
BREAKING: Number of #USSFitzgerald Sailors' remains found. Names will be released after all notifications – https://t.co/RDGA4jwaVk
Former Obama administration official Brandon Friedman told The Guardian that the U.S. ambassador to Japan and the Navy Secretary would have played key roles during the search, serving as communication links between the U.S. Navy and government officials from Japan and the United States.
“The USS Fitzgerald might sink off Japan and the US President can’t call our ambassador or our navy secretary because we have neither,” Friedman told The Guardian.
Trump’s first choice for Navy Secretary withdrew his candidacy earlier this year, and his current nominee has yet to be confirmed by the Senate, according to the Guardian.
The United States has also been without an ambassador to Japan since Caroline Kennedy stepped down earlier this year, and her successor has yet to take up his post, the Guardian reported.
No Secretary of the Navy No Ambassador to Japan Terrible accident in Sea of Japan 7 sailors missing Trump retweets Hannity & yells at TV
Trump has also lagged in replacing some key positions in the U.S. Attorneys office. ThinkProgress Deputy Economic Policy Editor Alan Pyke reported last week that although Trump finally nominated replacements for some top prosecutor jobs on Thursday, he has left vacancies in the area of white-collar criminal law enforcement.
The nominations come almost three months after Trump fired every U.S. Attorney appointed by Obama, and leave vacant the lead prosecutors for key positions, including the Southern District of New York, which Pyke described as “the most powerful single U.S. Attorney’s office and the clearinghouse for the vast majority of important white-collar casework.”
Prosecutor Preet Bharara, who headed the Southern District office, was fired by Trump earlier this year, and was in the midst of investigating Trump’s businesses.
Trump’s temperament and ongoing legal troubles are scaring off potential candidates for top posts was originally published in ThinkProgress on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.