By Michael Patrick Leahy
The federal bureaucracy is comprised of about 2.6 million permanent employees protected by Civil Service and about 4,000 political appointees. Many of these bureaucrats are actively engaged in sabotaging President Trump’s agenda.
Political appointees can be fired by the president at will. Permanent Civil Services employees are more difficult to fire.
“Today, the Pendleton Act shields from dismissal, even on legitimate grounds, more than 90 percent of civil servants,” the Federalist reports. But even if they can’t be fired from Civil Service, they can be removed from their current positions.
Here is a list of the top ten holdover Obama loyalist bureaucrats President Trump can either fire immediately or remove from their current positions (civil service).
- John Koskinen, Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service
- Richard Cordray, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director
- John Lansing, CEO of Broadcasting Board of Governors
- Amanda Bennett, Voice of America Director
- Kenneth Tota, Acting Director of the Office of Refugee Resettlement, Department of Health and Human Services (civil service)
- Anastasia Brown, Acting Deputy Director for Refugee Programs, Office of Refugee Resettlement, Department of Health and Human Services (civil service)
- Simon Henshaw, Acting Assistant Secretary, State Department Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (civil service)
- Mark C. Storella, Deputy Assistant Secretary, State Department Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (civil service)
- Lawrence Bartlett, career official, State Department Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (civil service)
- Elaine Zimmerman, Regional Administrator for the Administration for Children and Families, Region 1, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont (civil service)
Cordray, Lansing, and Bennett could try to fight their terminations, but ultimately, if President Trump wants to get rid of them, they will be gone.
Here’s the case for firing or removing from their current positions these ten Obama administration holdovers:
1. John Koskinen, Internal Revenue Service Commissioner
Koskinen’s term is scheduled to end in November 2017, but President Trump has the authority to accelerate his departure.
“A faction of conservatives is circumventing leadership brass and calling directly on President Trump to tell IRS Chief John Koskinen, ‘You’re fired,’ ” the Washington Examiner reported last month:
Rep. Mark Walker, R-N.C., will make the ask. The chairman of the Republican Study Committee has quietly but urgently been circulating a letter inside the GOP conference to build support. He’s now got 50 congressmen signed onto the letter.
While Trump has fleshed out his cabinet, so far, he’s stayed hush about the fate of the IRS chief. And conservatives really want Koskinen’s head. “You have the authority to remove Commissioner Koskinen,” Walker writes to Trump, adding that “we encourage you to dismiss him in the most expedient manner practicable.”
House Oversight Chairman Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, first drew up impeachment articles against the taxman in October 2015. Since then, conservatives have accused Koskinen of interfering with a congressional investigation and abetting the of the continued targeting of conservative non-profits.
“Last year, irate Republican lawmakers unsuccessfully sought impeachment of Koskinen over the IRS’s alleged targeting of tea party groups and other conservative organizations,” NewsMax notes.
2. Richard Cordray, Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
Cordray’s term is scheduled to end in 2018, but, as with Koskinen at the IRS, President Trump can move his departure date up.
“So long as President Donald Trump is in a firing mood, Richard Cordray, the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, must go,” Kelly Riddell wrote in a Washington Times Op-Ed on Friday:
One of the biggest swamp creatures, many thought Mr. Cordray wouldn’t survive 48 hours in the Trump administration, but alas, he has. He’s collected much power running his sprawling bureaucratic fiefdom, without any oversight from Congress, or even the president for that matter.
There’s the question whether Mr. Trump has the authority to even fire Mr. Cordray, a man who knows Republicans want him gone, but is refusing to leave.
Last year, the bureau’s single-director structure was declared unconstitutional in a court case, allowing Mr. Cordray to be fired at will, but the CFPB has appealed. So long as the case is pending, Mr. Cordray has grounds to stave off any dismal.
3. John Lansing, CEO of Broadcasting Board of Governors
The Broadcasting Board of Governors is one of those agencies most Americans have never heard of.
It “is the largest public diplomacy program by the U.S. government, reaching an audience of 278 million by broadcasting in 100 countries and 61 languages,” Politico reported.
It runs the Voice of America, Radio Free Europe, and several other broadcasting entities.
“Voice of America was created in 1942 during World War II to send pro-democracy news across Europe, as it aimed to counter Nazi and Japanese propaganda. The agency has since evolved into a more traditional news operation, while still pushing out the virtues of democracy worldwide,” Politico reported.
The problem in recent years is that Voice of America, Radio Free Europe, and the other broadcasting entities run by BBG have shifted from their traditional mission of promoting classic American values and interests to the rest of the world, and have become mirror images of mainstream media outlets like CNN, ABC, NBC, and CBS.
Current CEO John Lansing, a veteran cable industry executive, took over the reins in 2015 and has done nothing to stop that trend.
As Politico reported, a recent change in the law now provides President Trump with an opportunity to put his own person in charge over at the BBG:
Early last month, a provision buried into the National Defense Authorization Act called for disbanding the bipartisan board of the BBG, pleasing critics who said the part-time board was ineffective but alarming others who feared an accountability layer was being swept away.
“The status of the [BBG] board is in limbo, however, since Obama added a signing statement to the NDAA, saying it was unconstitutional to get rid of the board because it violates his constitutional right of appointment. Another uncertainty is that Lansing can be replaced at any time for a CEO appointed by the president,” Politico reported.
Even those on the left, however, acknowledge that President Trump has the authority to fire Lansing.
“But on page 1,404 of the defense bill that was passed by the Republican Congress right after the election, this far into the bill that high, they took the board of governors part out of the equation,” MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow says:
So that’s no longer who runs this $800 million broadcasting effort, Voice of America. Now instead of being run by a non-partisan sort of insulated board of governors it’s now run by a CEO who is appointed by the president and who serves at the pleasure of the president.
4. Amanda Bennett, Voice of America Director
“Voice of America Director Amanda Bennett oversees BBG’s largest organization, providing content in more than 45 languages to 236.6 million people each week on radio, television, mobile and the Internet,” the VOA website reports.
Under Bennett’s leadership, VOA has become increasingly focused on covering domestic politics from a far left perspective, similar to that found at NPR.
Bennett is the classic elite mainstream media journalist:
Amanda Bennett is a Pulitzer Prize-winning author, investigative journalist and editor. Through 2013, she was Executive Editor, Bloomberg News, where she created and ran a global team of investigative reporters and editors. She was also co-founder of Bloomberg News’ Women’s project. She was editor of The Philadelphia Inquirer from June, 2003, to November, 2006, and prior to that was editor of the Herald-Leader in Lexington, Kentucky. She also served for three years as managing editor/projects for The Oregonian in Portland. Bennett served as a Wall Street Journal reporter and editor for more than 20 years. A graduate of Harvard College, she held numerous posts at the Journal, including auto industry reporter in Detroit in the late 70s and early 80s, Pentagon and State Department reporter, Beijing correspondent, management editor/reporter, national economics correspondent and, finally, chief of the Atlanta bureau until 1998, when she moved to The Oregonian. Most recently, she has been a contributing columnist for The Washington Post.
Bennett is married to Donald Graham, former owner of the Washington Post, and current owner of Graham Holdings, which owns, among other media outlets, the far left website Slate.
“Together with her husband, Donald Graham, she is a co-founder of TheDream.US, which provides college scholarships to the children of undocumented immigrants,” the Voice of America website notes.
5. Kenneth Tota, Acting Director of the Office of Refugee Resettlement (civil service)
As Breitbart News has reported previously, the two agencies responsible for the implementation of the federal refugee resettlement program–the Office of Refugee Resettlement at the Department of Health and Human Services and the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration at the Department of State—are populated by a revolving door of ideologically aligned bureaucrats from the Voluntary Agencies that are paid $1 billion annually by the federal government to resettle refugees.
Any bureaucrat who has served at either agency for any period of time has been utterly compromised by the refugee industry lobby and has to go in a Trump administration.
“Ken Tota is the Acting Director for the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), Administration for Children and Families (ACF), Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). He has served as ORR Deputy Director since 2008, and also served as Acting ORR Director in 2006 and 2015,” according to the ORR website:
Prior to joining ORR, Ken served as Senior Program Specialist at the Immigration and Naturalization Service, where he provided oversight to the Unaccompanied Children’s Program and the program transfer from the U.S. Department of Justice to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Since coming to ORR, he has worked to significantly increase capacity and enhance care and services for unaccompanied children.
While at ORR, Ken has worked to enhance funding and services for refugees by focusing on the most vulnerable populations, technical assistance and expanding intensive case management. He has also been instrumental in the creation of an ORR division to focus on refugee health-related issues and developing partnerships in support of services for refugees.
Before entering civil service, Ken was the Cuban/Haitian Program Coordinator for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) in Washington, D.C., and Miami, Fla.
In his resignation letter last month, ORR Director Bob Carey, an Obama appointee and former VOLAG executive, praised Tota.
“I am pleased to announce that, as I leave office today, Ken Tota will be assuming the position of Acting Director of ORR. Ken’s knowledge of the policies and issues which affect the populations we serve and his commitment to the work of the office is unmatched,” Carey wrote.
6. Anastasia Brown, Acting Deputy Director for Refugee Programs, Office of Refugee Resettlement, Department of Health and Human Services (civil service)
Anastasia Brown worked for years in the “non-profit” refugee resettlement industry. Most recently, she held a senior position at the Refugee Council, USA, the lobbying arm for the 22 voluntary agencies (VOLAGs) who are paid more than $1 billion a year to resettle refugees in the United States.
Brown was recently planted at ORR by the Obama administration to ensure that the interests of the VOLAGs would be served in future administrations.
Outgoing ORR Director Carey also praised Brown in his resignation letter , saying she will bring “a wealth of experience” to her role, “which will be of great value going forward.”
7. Simon Henshaw, Acting Assistant Secretary, Department of State Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (civil service)
According to his State Department bio, Henshaw has been with PRM since 2013:
Mr. Henshaw is a career officer in the U.S. Foreign Service, currently serving as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration. His previous assignment was Director of Andean Affairs in the State Department’s Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs. From 2008 to 2011, he was the Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. Mr. Henshaw joined the State Department in 1985.
8. Mark C. Storella, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Department of State Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (civil service)
According to his State Department bio, Storella has been with PRM since 2016:
Ambassador Mark Storella, a member of the Senior Foreign Service, has a longstanding commitment to humanitarian affairs and human rights. He joined the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration in June 2016 with responsibility for admission of refugees to the United States and refugee programming in the Near East and Asia regions.
9. Lawrence Bartlett, Department of State Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (civil service)
A long time official with PRM, Bartlett has been an active apologist for the refugee resettlement industry for many years.
“Communities certainly have a say in what happens [with regards to refugee resettlement locally],” Bartlett told an audience at a public forum in 2015, an assertion strongly disputed by opponents of the federal refugee resettlement program.
“We would not bring refugees to any city in the United States that wasn’t going to be safe for the refugees,” he added.
“I put a little twist on that on purpose,” Bartlett continued.
“I am certainly, as someone who is resettling a refugee, would not take them to a place where I felt the refugees themselves, was going to be unsafe. . . The point is, if this was not a welcoming community, refugees wouldn’t be coming here. ”
10. Elaine Zimmerman, Regional Administrator for the Administration for Children and Families, Region 1, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont (civil service)
There is nothing particularly distinctive about Ms. Zimmerman. She, in fact, is fairly representative of a number of high level federal bureaucrats protected by civil service.
Her world view, however, is unlikely to align with the policies of President Trump, like many of her colleagues.
“Ms. Zimmerman partners with state, local, community based organizations, and tribes within the Region to promote economic and social well-being of children, families, individuals and communities in the New England region,” according to her bio on the HHS website:
Ms. Zimmerman was formerly the Executive Director of the Connecticut Commission on Children. She has devoted her career to developing and promoting model policy for children and families in health, safety and learning. Expert in trend analysis and public will, she knows how and when to move initiatives forward to maximize public interest and community partners for policy.
Ms. Zimmerman has been at the forefront of setting model policy in support of children. Her work with state leaders includes design of law in school readiness, early reading success, anti-bullying, children and disaster, children’s behavioral health, home visitation and anti-poverty law. She guided legislation to establish Connecticut’s Blueprint in Reading and Two-Generation initiatives. Ms. Zimmerman is recognized for one of the strongest parent leadership and family civics model in the states. For this work she was awarded the Good Housekeeping Award for Women. At the center of Ms. Zimmerman’s work is the critical role that community does and must play in preparing children for their future.
Her education background tells a lot about her world view: “Ms. Zimmerman has a B.A. with a dual major in Cultural Anthropology and Comparative Literature from the University of California, Berkeley. She also has a Masters in Community Mental Health from the University of California, Berkeley,” according to her bio.
This list of ten bureaucrats who can be fired or removed from their current positions is a good starting point.
While he’s at it, President Trump can reverse 17 conversions at eight agencies from political appointees to career civil service in the federal bureaucracy that, according to a recent GAO report, were implemented “without receiving prior approval from the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) as required by OPM policy.”
The report did not identify the jobs by title, but it named the offending agencies or departments.