At this point in the Obama administration, the newly-minted messiah had full control over every nook and cranny of the executive branch. There was not one morsel of dissent, much less sabotage percolating through the ranks of former GOP presidential appointees within the deep state of the various departments. Fast forward eight years and President Trump is at the cusp of losing control over his presidency if he doesn’t immediately fire all of the Obama appointees. As Mark Levin warned last night, there is a silent coup within the intelligence agencies and that is the real scandal.
Conservatives of all stripes warned incessantly throughout the presidential primary and again after Trump’s upset victory in November that we needed this Republican administration to be different. We swore that we wouldn’t repeat the mistakes of the past when Democrats fully stock their administrations with likeminded leftists and Republican successors leave many liberal holdovers in place. Yet, that is exactly what has happened. Not only have these Obama holdovers sabotaged Trump’s policy preferences, they have spied upon administration officials and have leaked sensitive information to the media.
Let’s be clear: There is only one chief executive of the executive branch. The president has full control over the hiring and firing of executive branch staff. Article I of the Constitution grants Congress numerous checks on the president. Congress could legislate away the effectiveness of any administration official or defund any particular office, but nobody can force upon the president any particular personnel. James Madison said it best in 1789, “[I]f any power whatsoever is in its nature Executive, it is the power of appointing, overseeing, and controlling those who execute the laws.”
The president must speak with one coherent voice as it relates to his policies. I’d say the same thing for a Democrat president as well. The checks and balances are in the hands of Congress, the judiciary (which has become more powerful than the president!), the 50 states, and the midterm elections. If the country doesn’t like the direction of the president’s policies, those are the means through which he can be stopped. There is no check or balance, however, within the executive branch itself. Throughout the eight years of Obama’s presidency, never once did conservatives like myself call upon closet conservatives within the intelligence agencies to spy on the president and his officials and leak sensitive information to the media. Instead, we called upon Congress to fight back and use their constitutional checks on the president.
There is no greater quality for which voters elected Trump than his notorious brand of firing ineffective or duplicitous staff. Trump’s resolute declaration of “you’re fired!” is etched in the mind of every American who watched primetime TV last decade. That is exactly what they expected in a President Trump and that is why, based on the disconnect between his personal favorability numbers and the election results, many people who disliked him personally voted for him nonetheless.
This should be the core job of the Chief of Staff Reince Priebus. He must instruct every department head who should then direct every agency head to call for the resignation of any political appointees and special counsels who do not share the views of the president. Any open borders official within DOJ and DHS should be gone. Any pro-government-run health care supporter within HHS has to go. Any official within Treasury who is not on board with the OMB spending cuts and pro-growth tax cuts should go out and campaign for their cause … on the outside. Any State Department official who is a shill for refugee resettlement, a Palestinian State, the Muslim Brotherhood, or who opposes the president’s immigration moratorium must go.
Reince Priebus clearly doesn’t share the views of movement conservatives, but that shouldn’t matter. His job is to make the trains come on time. If he cannot quell the divisions and ensure that the Obama holdovers are gone, there is no use to his services.
There is nothing harsh and revolutionary about this suggestion. It is exactly what Obama did the minute he took office. And he had an easier job because the residual deep state was a lot less hostile to his agenda than it is to Trump’s. The federal bureaucracy under Bush was not even close to being conservative, and Obama only pushed it further to the left.
President Trump has one last shot to save his presidency. Things will only get worse if and when he actually pursues serious transformational policies on immigration, national security, health care, taxes, and the budget. What voters appreciated about his address before Congress is that he spoke with one coherent voice. He must reclaim the momentum from that speech, formulate a clear agenda, and task Priebus with a sink-or-swim mandate to ensure that every last vestige of Obama’s deep state is eliminated. Cabinet members, such as Secretary of Defense James Mattis, must get with the program as well and lead the charge against Obama saboteurs instead of hiring them.
The lesson of presidential firings is that it must all be done as early as possible otherwise it turns into a bigger problem. Clinton easily fired all 93 U.S. Attorneys on day one and nobody blinked an eye. Yet, when Bush’s Attorney General fired eight U.S. Attorneys well into his second term, it became a national scandal. Time is of the essence for Trump to reclaim power over what he rightly won in November. The first 100 days is make-or-break and the clock is ticking.
Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.