A leaked document revealed that many of US Administration officials eventually fired by Trump had reputational red flags even during the transition team vetting process, Axios reported Sunday.
A red flag in this context is an RNC warning by those who vetted candidates for the transition team, as a means of indicating that a person displayed a characteristic or did something in the past that would make them a poor addition for an administrative post.
In just one particular instance, former Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tom Price was forced to resign following backlash over his use of a private jet for official business. The RNS vetting report had Price flagged for “criticism of management ability,” the Axios report said.
RNC warnings, however, have not acted as a check on Trump’s staff choices, as many later left the White House under a cloud of scandal.
Former Environmental Protection Agency (EOA) Administrator Scott Pruitt resigned after numerous controversies regarding his spending, ethics and management style. In the RNC report, according to Axios, he was flagged for “allegations of coziness with big energy companies”.
The RNC often put a candidate’s harsh criticism of Trump near the top of the file, yet the president still met with and sometimes hired flagged candidates.
Immediately following Trump’s 2016 victory, transition team head and former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie was fired and his tasks were quickly delegated to US Vice President Mike Pence. It was Pence who outsourced the vetting to the RNC. According to Christie, he himself filed a 30-volume report with as many as four cabinet recommendations for every position before he was fired.
“The longer term consequences for the president and for the country was he didn’t have the very best people in front of him to make a full and fair decision about and he paid the price for that later on with people like Scott Pruitt, like Mike Flynn,” Christie said.
According to RNC spokesman Mike Reed, “It is not abnormal for a presidential transition team to utilize the national party committee as a resource in putting together background briefings on potential nominees and executive branch staff.”
“These […] documents were initial pre-interview briefings put together to inform the transition team of top-line issues of note in the candidates’ background,” he said, according to The Hill report, adding that “Individuals selected for high-level administration jobs would have gone through more thorough background checks by lawyers, law enforcement agencies, and ethics officials before formally assuming their role.”
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