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U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during his meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., March 20, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
Report

Tracking turnover in the Trump administration

The rate of turnover among senior level advisers to President Trump has generated a great deal of attention. Below, we offer four resources to help measure and contextualize this turnover. The first set of resources tracks turnover among senior-ranking advisers in the executive office of the president (which does not include Cabinet secretaries), whereas the second set of resources tracks turnover in the Cabinet.

Turnover on the president’s “A Team”

President Trump’s “A Team” turnover is 65% as of January 16, 2019

The following chart and table reflect turnover among the most influential positions within the executive office of the president. This data is compiled and tracked by Brookings Nonresident Senior Fellow Kathryn Dunn Tenpas, who refers to this group of advisers as the president’s “A Team.” The list of positions that make up the “A Team” is based on National Journal “Decision Makers” editions, and Dunn Tenpas’s methodology is described in detail in a report she published in January 2018. The chart and table below will be updated as additional members of the “A Team” depart their positions. It is important to note the following:

  • Because the “A Team” is made up of members of the executive office of the president, it does not include Cabinet secretaries.
  • The count for Donald Trump’s “Year 3” is ongoing.
  • Each position on the “A Team” is only counted once. If multiple people hold and depart from the same position (e.g., communications director), only the initial departure is tracked/affects the turnover rate.


Summary and analysis of “A Team” turnover in the Trump administration

Set out below is a list of the senior level departures from the executive office of the president since the beginning of the Trump administration (each of the 65 “A Team” positions is only counted once toward the turnover rate, thus, this chart only includes the first person to hold/depart a given position). Highlighted text indicates a position that went through multiple instances of turnover; see below for more details.

Year Position Name Prior Job Nature of departure* Date of departure announcement Where to? Successor
1 Senior Director for Africa, NSC Robin Townley Marines Resigned Under Pressure (RUP) 2/10/2017 Sonoran Policy Group (lobbying and consulting) Cyril Sartor
1 Chief of Staff and Executive Sec’y, NSC Keith Kellogg Cubic Defense Promoted 2/13/2017 Acting National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster
1 National Security Adviser Michael Flynn Trump Campaign RUP 2/13/2017 Unknown H.R. McMaster
1 Deputy Chief of Staff Katie Walsh RNC RUP 3/30/2017 America First Policies then RNC (7/21/17) Kirstjen Nielsen
1 Deputy National Security Adviser KT McFarland TV analyst Promoted 5/19/2017 Ambassadorial nomination withdrew/unknown Dina Powell
1 Assistant to the President (AP) and Senior Counselor for Economic Initiatives Dina Powell Goldman Sachs Promoted 5/19/2017 Deputy National Security Adviser Unknown
1 AP and Communications Director Michael Dubke Black Rock Group RUP 5/29/2017 Georgetown University lecturer, Black Rock Group Scaramucci**
1 Press Secretary Sean Spicer RNC RUP 7/21/2017 Worldwide Speakers Group Sarah H. Sanders
1 Principal Deputy Press Secretary Sarah H. Sanders Trump Campaign Promoted 7/21/2017 Press Secretary Raj Shah
1 AP and Chief of Staff to the VP Josh Pitcock Capitol Hill Resigned 7/28/2017 Oracle Nick Ayers
1 Chief of Staff Reince Priebus RNC RUP 7/31/2017 Law firm John Kelly
1 AP and Director of Public Liaison George Sifakis Gov’t Relations RUP 7/31/2017 Ideagen Justin Clark
1 Senior Intelligence Director, NSC Ezra Cohen-Watnick U.S. Government (DIA) RUP 8/2/2017 Oracle Mike Barry
1 AP and Chief Strategist and Senior Counselor to the President Steve Bannon Media RUP 8/18/2017 Breitbart News/fired 1/9/18 Unknown
1 Deputy AP and Director of Presidential Advance George Gigicos Consulting RUP 8/22/2017 Consulting Robert L. Peede
1 National Security Adviser for VP Andrea Thompson House Homeland Security Committee (Michael McCaul R-TX) Promoted 9/11/2017 Special Adviser in the Office of Policy Planning, U.S. State Department Lieutenant General (Ret) Keith Kellogg, Jr.
1 AP and Director of Strategic Communications Hope Hicks Trump Organization Promoted 9/12/2017 Communications Director** Mercedes Schlapp
1 DAP and Deputy Communications Director and Research Director Raj Shah RNC Promoted 9/12/2017 Principal Deputy Press Secretary Unknown
1 Deputy AP and Director of Oval Office Operations Keith Schiller Trump Organization RUP 9/20/2017 Private Security Consulting Jordan Karem
1 Deputy AP and Deputy White House Counsel Greg Katsas Law Firm Resigned 11/28/2017 Federal judge, DC Circuit Uttam Dhillon
1 AP and Director of Communications, Office of Public Liaison Omarosa Manigault Reality Television RUP 12/13/2017 Celebrity Big Brother Unknown
1 Deputy Director of the Domestic Policy Council and Director of Budget Policy Paul Winfree Heritage Foundation Resigned 12/15/2017 Heritage Foundation Lance Leggitt
2 AP and Deputy Chief of Staff Rick Dearborn U.S. Senate staff Resigned 12/23/17 resignation announced, departed 3/13/2018 The Cypress Group Unknown
2 AP and Staff Secretary Rob Porter U.S. Senate Staff RUP 2/7/2018 Unknown Derek Lyons
2 Senior Director of Legislative Affairs, NSC Daniel Greenwood Marines Promoted 2/9/2018 Lateral move to Deputy AP and Deputy Director of Legislative Affairs Paul J. Miller
2 AP and Director of Presidential Personnel John DeStefano U.S. House of Representatives Staff Promoted 2/9/2018 AP and  Counsel to the President overseeing Public Liaison, Personnel and Political Affairs Sean Doocey (DAP)
2 AP for Intergovernmental and Technology Initiatives Reed Cordish Real Estate Resigned 2/16/2018 Partner, Cordish Companies Brooke L. Rollins
2 AP and Director of the National Economic Council Gary Cohn Goldman Sachs Resigned 3/6/2018 Unknown Larry Kudlow
2 CIA Director Mike Pompeo Member, House of Representatives (R-KS) Promoted 3/13/2018 Secretary of State Gina Haspel
2 DAP and Director of Intergovernmental Affairs Justin Clark Trump Campaign Promoted 3/13/2018 Director, White House Office of Public Liaison Douglas Hoelscher
2 Deputy CIA Director Gina Haspel CIA Promoted 3/13/2018 CIA Director Vaughan Bishop
2 AP and Director for Strategic Initiatives Chris Liddell WME/IMG Promoted 3/19/2018 Deputy Chief of Staff Unknown
2 AP for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Thomas Bossert Atlantic Council RUP 4/10/2018 Unknown Doug Fears
2 DAP and Director of Policy and Interagency Coordination Carlos Diaz-Rosillo Harvard University Promoted 6/19/2018 Senior Deputy Chairman, National Endowment for the Humanities Unknown
2 DAP and and Senior Adviser to the Chief of Staff Sean Cairncross RNC Promoted Unknown (nominated for MCC 1/5/18) Millennium Challenge Corp. (if confirmed) Unknown
2 Deputy Director, National Economic Council and International Economic Affairs Everett Eissenstat Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) Resigned 7/15/2018 General Motors Clete Willems
2 AP and White House Director of Legislative Affairs Marc Short Trump Campaign Resigned 7/20/2018 Guidepost Strategies and UVA Shahira Knight
2 DAP and Deputy Chief of Staff to the Vice President Jen Pavlik Office of Governor Pence Resigned August 2018 Keystone Unknown
2 Counsel to the President Donald McGahn Trump Campaign Resigned 10/17/2018 Unknown Pat Cipollone
2 SAP and Director of Communications Stephanie Grisham Trump Campaign Promoted November 2018 Deputy Chief of Staff for Communications Unknown
2 DAP and Political Director Bill Stepien Trump Campaign Resigned 12/7/2018 Trump Re-election Campaign Unknown
2 OMB Director Mick Mulvaney Member, House of Representatives (R-SC) Promoted 12/14/2018 Acting Chief of Staff Russell Vought
SUMMARY: 42/65 (65%) “A Team” positions have turned over; 14 Resigned Under Pressure; 17 Promoted; 11 Resigned
*Author’s Note: The departure status was difficult to determine in some cases because media reports were often at odds with an individual’s claim that they were resigning. In the end, I decided to create the category “resigned under pressure,” which I believe captures the general sentiment at the time of their departure. Highlighted text indicates a position that went through multiple instances of turnover; see below for more details.
**Anthony Scaramucci was Communications Director for 11 days. He was succeeded by Hope Hicks, who resigned February 28th, 2018. On July 5, 2018, Bill Shine was appointed Assistant to the President and Deputy Chief of Staff for Communications.
Sources: Multiple internet sites including LinkedIn, WhiteHouse.gov and numerous news sites.

Serial turnover within the Trump “A Team”

The turnover data above include only the president’s initial team of advisers and when one departs, the position falls out of the sample. One of the limitations of this approach is that it does not consider multiple departures within a single position, a common phenomenon within the Trump team.

Set out below are the “A Team” positions that have had more than two occupants.

29% of President Trump’s “A Team” departures have undergone serial turnover as of January 16, 2019

Position Original Replacement 1 Replacement 2 Replacement 3 Replacement 4
Chief of Staff Reince Priebus John Kelly Mick Mulvaney (acting)
Deputy Chief of Staff* Katie Walsh Kirstjen Nielsen Zachary Fuentes Not yet named
Chief of Staff to the VP  Josh Pitcock Nick Ayers Not yet named
Communications Director Michael Dubke Anthony Scaramucci Hope Hicks Bill Shine
Principal Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders Raj Shah Not yet named
Director of Public Liaison George Sifakis Justin Clark Not yet named
Director of Oval Office Operations Keith Schiller Jordan Karem Not yet named
Deputy AP and Deputy White House Council* Greg Katsas Uttam Dhillon Michael Purpura
National Security Adviser Michael Flynn HR McMaster John Bolton
Deputy National Security Adviser KT McFarland Dina Powell Nadia Schadlow Mira Ricardel Charles Kupperman
Chief of Staff and Executive Secretary, NSC  Keith Kellogg Frederick Fleitz Joan Virginia O’Hara
Senior Director of Intelligence, NSC  Ezra Cohen Watnick Michael Barry (departed July 2018 after McMaster) Unclear
SUMMARY: 12/42 (29%) “A Team” departures have turned over more than twice.
* Note that there are multiple deputies under the chief of staff and White House counsel. The data reflect an attempt to track just a single deputy position and note the successor. However, there is minimal publicly available information on presidential staffing. It is also the case that a new chief of staff may not have a “first among equals” deputy chief of staff, such that the role may have changed since the original occupant. The same is true for White House Counsel. While Greg Katsas may have been the “first among equals” among the Deputy White House Counsel positions in 2017, the role may have changed under the new White House Counsel, Pat Cipollone.

 

Turnover in the president’s cabinet

The chart and table below are dedicated to tracking turnover in the Cabinet. They will also be updated as additional turnover occurs. Unlike the trackers above dedicated to the president’s “A Team,” these resources look at every departure from the president’s cabinet, even if multiple people have occupied that position.

Summary and analysis of Cabinet departures in the Trump administration

Set out below is a list of departures from the president’s Cabinet since the beginning of the Trump administration.

Year Position Name Prior Job Nature of Departure Date of Departure Announcement Where to? Successor
1 Secretary of Homeland Security John F. Kelly U.S. Marine Corps Promoted 7/28/2017 White House Chief of Staff Kirstjen Nielsen
1 Chief of Staff Reince Priebus RNC Resigned Under Pressure (RUP) 7/28/2017 Michael Best and Friedrich LLP (Lobbying) John F. Kelly
1 Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price Member of the House RUP 9/29/2017 Jackson Healthcare Alex Azar
2 CIA Director Mike Pompeo Member of the House Promoted 3/13/2018 Secretary of State Gina Haspel
2 Secretary of State Rex Tillerson Exxon RUP 3/13/2018 Unknown Mike Pompeo
2 Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin U.S. Government (VA) RUP 3/28/2018 Unknown Robert Wilkie
2 Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt Oklahoma Attorney General RUP 7/5/2018 Unknown Andrew Wheeler (Acting)
2 U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley South Carolina Governor Resigned 10/9/2018 (effective end of 2018) Unknown Unknown
2 Attorney General Jeff Sessions U.S. Senator RUP 11/7/2018 Unknown Matthew Whitaker (Acting)
2 Chief of Staff John F. Kelly Secretary of Homeland Security RUP 12/08/2018 Unknown Mick Mulvaney (Acting)
2 OMB Director Mick Mulvaney Member of the House Promoted 12/14/2018 Acting Chief of Staff Russell Vought (Acting)
2 Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke Member of the House RUP 12/15/2018 (effective end of 2018) Unknown David Bernhardt (Acting)
2 Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis Retired Protest Resignation (PR) 12/20/2018 Unknown Patrick Shanahan (Acting)

Sources: Agency websites and various news sources.

Note: Many thanks to Elaine Kamarck and Nicholas Zeppos, who contributed to the initial data collection for this section.

 

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