As President Trump winds down his first year in office, he can boast the successful passage of his tax bill and earning the record for the fewest bills signed into law by any recent president. And now, Trump has a new record he can slap his name on — his first year in the White House saw the highest turnover rate in the past forty years.
In Trump’s first year, 1600 Penn witnessed a 34 percent turnover rate among senior aides. That’s twice as high as Reagan’s first year at 17 percent, and the conservative icon was the closest percentage to Trump in recent history, according to a Wall Street Journal report. For their article, the Journal utilized data from the Brookings Institute, a left-leaning think tank in Washington D.C.. Brookings scholars tracked 61 of Trump’s senior officials and noted that 21 of them are out of their posts at the end of the first year.
Kathryn Dunn-Tenpas, a senior fellow at Brookings, offered the following explanation:
That’s unprecedented to me. The first year always seems to have some missteps on staffing, often because the skills that worked well running a campaign don’t always align with what it takes to run a government. In this case, it’s a president with no experience in government and people around him who also had no experience.
By comparison, President Obama’s turnover rate during the first year was only 9 percent. And unlike the era of the previous administration, the nation now seems acutely aware of the White House shake-ups that often grab national headlines. We’ve seen a series of those highly visible firings and resignations — Michael Flynn, Anthony Scaramucci, Reince Priebus, Steve Bannon, Sean Spicer and Omarosa Manigault-Newman, just to name a few.
Two weeks ago, before the Brookings Institute released their data, Dunn-Tempas spoke to The New Yorker about the optics of the numbers. She noted that it’s always difficult to find senior administration officials able to step into a role that helps dictate the direction of the nation but that in Trump’s White House, replacing top talent seems especially difficult. Dunn-Tempas explains, “[new recruits] are not jumping onto a bandwagon. They’re jumping onto something that’s chugging up a hill.”
There are still plenty of officials who have been with Trump since the beginning. The two most notable are probably Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. For months, rumors have swirled that both of those men may be on their way out but the White House has denied such suggestions. One thing is for sure: for a man who essentially coined the phrase “you’re fired,” the president has continued to say it quite frequently during his Oval Office tenure.