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Trump on lack of nominees: 'I am the only one that matters'
President Trump pushed back Thursday on concerns about a lack of nominees for key positions at the State Department, arguing it wouldn't affect his agenda.
"Let me tell you, the one that matters is me, I'm the only one that matters because when it comes to it that's what the policy is going to be," Trump said on Fox News when pressed about vacancies by Laura Ingraham.
"We don't need all the people that they want," Trump continued. "Don't forget, I'm a business person and I tell my people 'well you don't need to fill slots, don't fill them.'"
A number of top positions remain unfilled at the State Department, among other agencies, including officials overseeing Southeast Asia and arms control.
Trump has fallen behind his four predecessors in the number of appointments confirmed by the Senate by this time, while he also has fewer nominations sent compared to the four previous administrations, according to an appointee tracker from The Washington Post and Partnership for Public Service.
The president blamed Senate Democrats for more nominees not being approved, though he acknowledged that he has focused on nominating fewer people.
"We're filling up roles. And, don't forget, Schumer and the Democrats are just obstructing. You can't get anything through. We have almost about half the number of people coming through as Obama had. They are obstructing," Trump said.
"We have to get our people in. But in addition to that, we don't need all of the people, you know, it's called cost saving. ... There's nothing wrong with cost saving."
"Rex is in there working hard, he's doing his best, he's doing the best he can," Trump added.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has focused on cutting costs and reorganizing the State Department to meet a White House goal of reducing its budget by 30 percent.
Tillerson has himself pushed back on reports of low morale at the State Department, telling Bloomberg recently, "I'm not seeing it, I'm not getting it."
Trump defended his decision not to appoint nominees for certain State Department positions on Thursday night, telling Fox, "We have some people that I'm not happy with their thinking process."