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Trump Administration Turnover: Who Will Be Next to Leave?

October 21, 2019, 8:52 PM UTC

Rick Perry resigned as President Donald Trump’s energy secretary last week. Although Perry’s post isn’t considered a high-level cabinet position, there have been nine senior-level Cabinet members within the Trump administration to leave.

This means Trump holds the distinction of having more turnover in his Cabinet in the nearly three years of his presidency than any of the five presidents before him had in their entire first terms in office.

Keeping score is Kathryn Dunn Tenpas, a senior fellow of Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution, who has been tracking White House turnover rates over the past three decades.

“President Trump has a chaotic, unpredictable and impulsive management style that definitely leads to more attrition,” Dunn Tenpas said of the turnover. “He likes to make decisions many times without consulting his staff.”

Who might be next to go? Here are the Trump Administration staffers who could be considered targets.

Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney

“A few days ago, I wouldn’t have felt this way,” said Dunn Tenpas about Mulvaney possibly being a target for departure. “But, I’m sure he’s now under a lot of scrutiny behind closed doors.”

That’s because last week Mick Mulvaney acknowledged that Trump’s administration had halted nearly $400 million in aid to push Ukraine into investigating former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter.

“I have news for everybody: Get over it. There’s going to be political influence in foreign policy,” Mulvaney said at a White House briefing on Thursday.

But Mulvaney walked back his comments a few hours later and told Fox News Sunday that “rampant corruption” in Ukraine and the president’s concern over other nations helping with foreign aid to Ukraine were the two reasons why aid was held up.

Still, despite his attempts to clarify, Mulvaney may be next to be shown the door, said Rebecca Eissler, San Francisco State University assistant professor of political science.

“The more that any of these people speak in public about the decision making and thought process about the White House and the Ukraine matter, the more they put themselves at risk for being the ones next to leave,” Eissler said. “If I were on the house judiciary committee, I would return to his statements again and again.”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo

Pompeo could be the Trump administration official with the most to lose since the secretary of state was listening in on the controversial call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenski three months ago.

“If the polls start to decline, he could be at risk because he’s clearly at the center of the Ukraine controversy,” Dunn Tenpas said. “Trump likes that Pompeo is complying with not giving evidence, but he also can be on the hot seat.”

Pompeo may be able to stay under the radar a while longer, Eissler said. But for how long is an uncertainty.

“It all depends if more information comes out, something criminal occurred and if that requires a sacrificial lamb,” Eissler said. “We need more information.”

Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross

There was a strong belief three months ago that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who oversees the Census Bureau, was on the outs after a stinging defeat in the Supreme Court on adding a citizenship question to next year’s census.

But, Ross has managed to keep his job and his head down out of headlines for the most part.

“If he was debating jumping ship then, he might not be now because there’s no external pressure to step down,” Eissler said. “Ross is in a position where if he wants to stay, there are other fish for Trump to fry in his administration—and if Ross wants to go, there are other people he likely will be leaving with. He won’t be the last.”

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