Now that the midterms are passed, President Trump has made it plain that he is tired of hearing “no” from some in his cabinet.
Speaking to Chris Wallace of Fox News, President Trump said he believes his first two years in office have been a rousing success but he wasn’t as quick to compliment some in his cabinet.
When Wallace asked the President who he might be thinking of replacing, Trump replied, “I have three or four or five positions that I’m thinking about … maybe it’s going to end up being two. But I need flexibility,”
Two positions he has already named replacements for are Attorney General and U.N. Ambassador. On Friday, the President named William Barr as his nominee for Attorney General and Heather Nauert for U.N. Ambassador.
William Barr, although somewhat of a surprise nomination, was on the President’s short list to replace the ousted Jeff Sessions. Barr is expected to have a much smoother Congressional confirmation hearing than his predecessor did. Supporters site his previous his previous employment as the nation’s attorney general under President George H.W. Bush, who passed away just days ago.
Heather Nauert is expected to have a much tougher time getting confirmed by Congress to replace outgoing U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley. Nauert, the current spokeswoman for the State Department under Mike Pompeo and former Fox News host, has no foreign affairs experience. Although neither did Nikki Haley when she accepted the job as Ambassador.
President Trump on the other hand had a lot to say about Nauert. In his interview with Chris Wallace he said of her, “Well, I like her a lot. I respect her a lot,” Trump said. “She’s very smart. I want her to get much tougher and we’ll see what happens there.” Then he added, “But I want to be extremely tough… I’d like her to be much tougher on the border — much tougher, period.”
Andrew Surabian, a former White House strategist under Trump told reported that a “healthy ideological diversity prevails in the White House” and the President welcomes a different viewpoint.
Accord to Surabian, a willingness to listen shouldn’t be seen as a sign to “do your own thing”. The bottom line is that Trump will not “allow people to slow roll or stonewall his agenda.” Like those who elected him, Trump wants “people executing and getting things done.
A prime example is the resignation of economic adviser Gary Cohn. Despite his plea to hold back on tariffs, Trump said no. To the dismay of allies, Trump announced global tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum. Gary Cohn, who disagreed with him on trade and other issues had to go.
14 months into Donald Trump’s White House tenure, loyalists are in, dissenters are out. One thing those who elected Trump wanted was an outsider who wouldn’t play by the rules of the Washington bureaucracy.
Acting swiftly on his own instincts is the Trump those voters counted on and they got it when he fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson replacing him with replaced CIA Director Mike Pompeo.
With Tillerson gone, Pompeo agreed to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, despite months earlier having threatened to “totally destroy” his country if necessary. Much of the delay had resulted from Tillerson’s advocacy of a more moderate and diplomatic approach to U.S. foreign policy.
Pompeo, more of a reflection of the president, has shown no such restraint.
Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich observed that Trump is “looking for people who are in broad agreement with what he wants to do and who are willing to accept that he’s the team leader.”
Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy saw Trump’s firing of Tillerson as unacceptable. He told reporters, “Firing a Secretary of State by Twitter may make for great drama and instant TV ratings, but this, and countless other instances like this, produce undiluted instability that damages the nation and the office of the presidency at just about every level.”
Of course a leading Democrat and long-time part of the Washington elite see Trump’s actions as unacceptable. Unlike Patrick Leahy, Trump intends to get things done one way or another.
Longtime associates of the president say his moves are consistent with his businessman past and a clear signal to aides who have not accepted his convictions and leadership style.
“People who thought they could change him are finding out what we found out on the campaign a long time ago: You can’t. You can make him better but 180-degree changes in opinion are unlikely,” said Barry Bennett, a former Trump campaign strategist. “If you think it’s your mission to just talk him out of it, it’s mission impossible.”
Trump has already eliminated a variety of aides from lesser knowns like Omarosa Manigault Newman and Anthony Scaramucci to heavy hitters like Michael Flynn and Steve Bannon. As Jacob Heilbrunn of The National Interest said: “No matter how highly they may value themselves, they are nothing more than peripheral figures orbiting around Trump’s presidential sun.”
The American voters placed Donald Trump, not Bannon or Tillerson, in office and actions like these shows he wasn’t bluffing when he said he expects to win a second term.