The Trump Administration is still struggling to fill hundreds of empty slots across nearly every department in the federal government. But they have hired a handful of very specific aides: “senior White House advisers” assigned to keep a close eye on what’s happening with their Cabinet members.
The Trump political appointees, who bunk up with Cabinet Secretaries and attend all of their staff meetings, are starting to get on Trump Administration officials’ nerves. But the White House says until the departments hire more senior staffers, their “advisers” are the White House’s eyes and ears across the government.
According to Pro Publica, at least 16 different departments have Trump Administration babysitters, watching over everyone from Health and Human Services to NASA. These aides report back to the White House’s Office of Cabinet Affairs, which then reports directly to the Oval Office.
The Trump Administration claims that the small team of inter-office communicators are just a temporary measure, and will help the departments establish a chain of communication back to President Trump himself. But the agencies do fear that the aides are acting as “moles,” telling senior White House staff where the agencies stand on key issues.
For the White House, the strategy seems to be that these aides will fill necessary roles while Trump Cabinet secretaries are still being vetted and voted on by the Senate. Since the administration is taking an unusually long time to nominate and hire—450 major positions are still empty and thousands of lower-level positions are yet to be filled—the babysitters streamline the government’s decision-making process.
Pro Publica has also obtained a list of around 400 individuals hired to fill Trump Administration jobs, and it reveals an unsurprising truth: many of those on Trump’s team are longtime supporters, conservative think tank fellows, and former industry officials.