10 Withdrawals in 10 Months: Trump’s Nominee Crisis Grows

U.S. President Trump listens to a question as he meets with Canada's Prime Minister Trudeau in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington
U.S. President Donald Trump listens to a question from the media as he meets with Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau about the NAFTA trade agreement in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, U.S. October 11, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst - HP1EDAB1FN77T
Jonathan Ernst—Reuters

Tom Marino’s decision to withdraw as the nominee for the Trump administration’s drug czar nominee didn’t come as a tremendous surprise, but it did underscore a growing issue in the Trump White House: Finding people for critical jobs is taking longer than anyone expected.

Marino took his name out of consideration Tuesday, after reports from The Washington Post and CBS’ 60 Minutes revealed he had championed a law that hobbled federal efforts to combat the abuse of opioids. He is at least the 10th Trump nominee to recuse themself from a position within the administration.

Other withdrawn nominees include both Mark Green and Vincent Viola for Army Secretary, Andrew Puzder for Secretary of Labor and Jim Clinger, who was asked to chair the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC).

That’s becoming a notable problem for Trump, whose administration has struggled to find its footing since taking office. The Cabinet position of Health and Human Services Secretary is still unfilled. And there’s no one in the homeland security secretary’s office, though Kirstjen Nielsen has been nominated for the role.

There are roughly 600 key government positions that require Senate confirmation. The Partnership for Public Service says Trump has only filled roughly one-quarter of them. Over half of the State Department positions requiring Senate confirmation currently lack a nominee, including the ambassador to South Korea and the assistant secretary for East Asian and Pacific affairs.

And with nominees regularly withdrawing, it could take even longer to fill those slots—or at least the ones the president chooses to fill. (Trump has said he wants to create efficiency by leaving some positions without nominees.)

Trump isn’t the only president to have nominees opt out, of course. But after just 10 months in office, the number of nominees who have withdrawn their names in the Trump administration is fast approaching the number who withdrew during President Obama’s eight-year tenure.

Obama, certainly, had his own struggles with nominees. National Intelligence Council chairman Charles Freeman was forced to bow out in 2009. Bill Richardson withdrew from his nomination as Commerce Secretary. And Sen. Tom Daschle was forced to withdraw from consideration as Health and Human Services secretary.

Withdrawing one’s name from an administration is done voluntarily. But it’s frequently done under the shadow of controversy, as Marino discovered.

Here’s a look at notable withdrawals to date during Trump’s time in the White House.

Tom Marino

Nominated for: Drug czar

Withdrew because: Reports indicated he had attempted to impede federal efforts to combat opioid abuse.

Andrew Puzder

Nominated for: Labor Secretary

Withdrew because: Decades-old abuse allegations dogged Puzder, as did his employment of an undocumented immigrant to clean his home.

Vincent Viola

Nominated for: Secretary of the U.S. Army

Withdrew because: The Wall Street billionaire had concerns about the complicated task of divesting from his many business interests, which include the Florida Panthers hockey team and trading firmVirtu Financial.

Philip Bilden

Nominated for: Navy Secretary

Withdrew because: Privacy concerns and issues separating himself from his business interests.

Mark Green

Nominated for: Army Secretary

Withdrew because: Comments he made in the past about Islam and other issues stirred controversy.

Jim Clinger

Nominated for: Chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

Withdrew because: Family issues

Daniel A. Craig

Nominated for: Deputy secretary the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)

Withdrew because: Probes into his work and travel records in the Bush administration proved too distracting.

George Nesterczuk

Nominated for: Head of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM)

Withdrew because: Criticisms from federal labor unions proved overwhelming.

Todd Ricketts

Nominated for: Deputy Commerce Secretary

Withdrew because: The Cubs board member withdrew when unraveling his finances proved too complicated.

Brian P Burns

Nominated for: U.S. Ambassador to Ireland

Withdrew because: Health concerns


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