Trump may be gone, but he left plenty of lackeys behind. Here are some of the worst. - 2021-02-01
In the time between his election loss and Joe Biden's inauguration, Donald Trump rushed through dozens of federal appointments. Most rewarded loyalists with cushy, largely ceremonial positions on boards and commissions. But many were "burrowed in," a process wherein a lame-duck president converts political appointees into civil servants who the next president will have a hard time getting rid of.
Both Republican and Democratic administrations have used the system for decades, but Trump took the practice to new extremes. It is hard to say exactly how many political appointees Trump requested for a transfer to a civil service position, since the data is only updated on a quarterly basis; Business Insider recently reported that Trump had converted at least 26 political appointees to career positions. Max Stier, the president of the Partnership for Public Service, a nonprofit that tracks federal government management issues, says the last months of Trump's presidency were far from normal. "Burrowing in general is a problem," Stier says. "And I think that the likelihood is that there's quite a bit more problems here then we've seen in the past."
A majority of the problems lie in the Office of Personnel Management, the federal agency that manages employment for civil servants. Typically, the OPM—an independent agency—is supposed to ensure that a political appointee converted into a civil servant by the president is actually qualified for the position. But Trump, on his way out of the White House, upended OPM's leadership and replaced them with loyalists. "There's been damage done there," Stier says. "And so it's not clear whether OPM is a fair referee itself."