As if the Trump administration hasn't already operated bizarrely enough, its cabinet will now have a new addition: senior aides that will monitor how closely the secretaries' allegiances lie with U.S. President Donald Trump, according to a new report by the Washington Post.
These aides report not to the secretary, but to the Office of Cabinet Affairs, which is overseen by Rick Dearborn, a White House deputy chief of staff, according to administration officials. Behind the scenes, though, theyre on another mission: to monitor Cabinet leaders and their top staffs to make sure they carry out the presidents agenda and dont stray too far from the White Houses talking points, said several officials with knowledge of the arrangement.
Agencies with embedded appointees include large departments like Energy and Health and Human Services, as well as smaller agencies including NASA, records shared with the Post from a ProPublica Freedom of Information Act request show.
At the Environmental Protection Agency, for example, Don Benton - a former Washington state senator who ran Trump's campaign in the state - offered his unsolicited opinion on policy matters so frequently that EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has reportedly disinvited him from meetings, in a situation one official described to The Post as out of an episode of Veep.
"Especially when you're starting a government and you have a changeover of parties when policies are going to be dramatically different, I think it's something that's smart", Bennett told the newspaper. But they have hired a handful of very specific aides: "senior White House advisers" assigned to keep a close eye on what's happening with their Cabinet members. Because theres no senior staff yet, theyre functioning as the White Houses voice and ears in these departments.. John Mashburn, a top Dearborn aide, checks in weekly with the aides during a conference call he leads.
"If you drain the swamp, you better have someone who watches over the alligators", Gingrich said.
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The Post noted that Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and even Abraham Lincoln used similar arrangements with embedded aides.