After two years of historically high turnover, President Trump is expected to accept the resignation or force the departure of several more Cabinet members by January, according to Politico. A half-dozen Republicans close to the White House and former Trump officials have disclosed that as many as six Cabinet officials could depart within the first couple of months after the election. With eight defections from the Cabinet already, another six would be the highest rate of Cabinet turnover in recent history.
To lose six Cabinet officials in such a short period of time would no doubt create an enormous disruption in the Trump administration, even by the standards of one that has already experienced a churning turnover rate. Additionally, the sudden ingress and egress of Cabinet officials sets up the administration for several messy confirmation battles in a short period of time.
It has already been established that U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley will leave the Cabinet by the end of the year. President Trump has not named a successor yet. According to administration sources, Defense Secretary James Mattis and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke are expected to tender their resignations after the midterm elections. Additionally, it is expected that President Trump will also dismiss Attorney General Jeff Sessions, which would come as no surprise considering the recent friction between Sessions and Trump, as well as Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.
Republicans close to the White House believe that President Trump will likely choose replacements who will most benefit his re-election in 2020. “The President is looking to get better performers– all of these decisions are being made in the context of the re-election campaign,” said one Republican.
“Trump wants the strongest possible A-Team going into 2020.”
The two-year mark is typically a natural time for administration officials to depart. However, there may be even greater incentive for Cabinet officials to exit the Trump administration should the Democrats win control of the House in the 2018 midterm elections as expected. A Democratic majority would expose Cabinet officials to Democratic control of oversight committees and leave those officials open to a televised grilling by their political opposition.
President Trump has already seen some high-profile public departures from his oft-beleaguered Cabinet. The President fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson with a Tweet on a random Tuesday after months of confrontation between Tillerson and the President, his son-in-law Jared Kushner, and top officials within the agency. Shortly after President Trump dismissed Veterans Affairs Chief David Shulkin, the former V.A. Secretary wrote a scathing op-ed for the New York Times that detailed “a brutal power struggle with some political appointees choosing to promote their agendas instead of what’s best for veterans.”