Ten days ago, I stumbled upon (and passed along), the work of Brookings Institution government studies fellow Kathryn Dunn Tenpas, who has set up a template for tracking and comparing turnover among top-level administration officials over the last six presidencies.
As of then, the current incumbent had set a record pace for firing people whom he previously thought were qualified for various high White House posts. Tenpas doesn’t count cabinet positions but follows turnover in the 65 most influential and high-profile White House jobs. At the end of his first year, Trump had fired (or accepted the resignations of) occupants of 34 percent of those 65 jobs. His 34 percent replacement rate was precisely double the previous record for a first-year president.
But, two months into his second year, he is not letting up. The recent firing of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson didn’t even count since, as I mentioned, Tenpas doesn’t score cabinet positions, in which Trump is also setting a blistering pace. And yesterday’s news of the departure of National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster didn’t affect the count either, because (for reasons that must make sense to her) Tenpas counts just one turnover in each position, and McMaster had already replaced Trump’s short-tenured first National Security Advisor, the now-indicted Michael Flynn.
Nonetheless, Tenpas’ latest count of the portion of top White House positions in which there has been at least one change of occupant is now up to 48 percent. He is deep in record territory and continues to set a torrid pace.
The portion is even slightly higher if one focuses on the 12 highest ranking positions, which Tenpas called the “Tier One” White House jobs. In a piece that Tenpas herself posted yesterday on the Brookings site, she divulged that of the original 12 members of Trump’s “Tier One,” just five are still in the jobs in which they started. That’s a 58.3 percent turnover rate.
Her update was titled “McMaster out and turnover on the White House ‘A Team’ continues at a steady clip.”