Dozens of Trump appointees ‘burrow’ into Biden government
Roughly two dozen Trump administration appointees remain in civil service jobs or on government advisory boards roughly two months into the Biden administration, according to a new report from a government watchdog group obtained by The Hill.
Accountable.US, a left-leaning watchdog, found that at least 24 Trump appointees have “burrowed” into civil service jobs. The appointments mean that Trump-era officials will remain in those posts for the foreseeable future.
The report cited four individuals who are believed to have burrowed into national security roles, nine who have taken up roles in environmental regulation and three officials at the Department of Justice. The allegations mirror those made frequently during the Trump administration about a so-called deep state of career officials who were obstructing the former president’s agenda.
Among those listed in the report as potentially burrowing into the Biden administration are acting U.S. Attorney Prerak Shah, Brandon Middleton in the Department of Energy and Robert G. Cameron at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
“Because these kinds of positions usually fly under the radar, having them filled with antagonists of the Biden administration could sabotage progress on the many crises we’re grappling with,” Accountable.US President Kyle Herrig said in a statement.
The issue has already come to a head in some instances.
Michael Ellis, a GOP operative and ally of former national security adviser Michael Flynn, was placed on administrative leave after Biden took office, pending an investigation into his appointment as the top lawyer at the National Security Agency in the waning days of the Trump administration.
Biden last week fired Sharon Gustafson, who was appointed by former President Trump as the general counsel of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, after she refused to resign.
The president also signed an executive order at the outset of his presidency restoring worker protections and eliminating Schedule F, a Trump-era policy that provided a pathway for certain appointees to burrow their way into long-term civil service jobs.
The Accountable.US report also cited more than 100 appointments Trump made in his final weeks in office to put loyalists and allies on government advisory boards. Those roles are not official government positions, but reflect the extent to which Trump has stocked Washington, D.C., commissions with former aides and donors.
Trump appointed former White House counselor Kellyanne Conway to serve on the U.S. Air Force Academy Board of Visitors. He tapped former Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, who is married to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), to serve on the Kennedy Center Board of Trustees.
And Russ Vought, Trump’s former director of the Office of Management and Budget who was accused of holding up the Biden transition, was appointed to the U.S. Naval Academy Board of Visitors.
The Biden administration has taken some steps to intervene in the appointments.
Biden’s Defense secretary, Lloyd Austin, in early February ousted hundreds of members from the Pentagon’s advisory committees, removing last-minute appointees by the Trump administration that included former Trump campaign advisers Corey Lewandowski and David Bossie.