History of the Presidential Cabinet

History of the Presidential Cabinet


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As they painstakingly hammered out a U.S. Constitution in the spring and summer of 1787, constitutional delegates toyed with the idea of a presidential advisory body, which would come to be known as the Cabinet. One proposal called for a “privy council” composed of, among others, the president of the Senate, the speaker of the House and the chief justice of the Supreme Court. In the end, however, the delegates couldn’t agree on “who should be on this council—or who should pick them,” according to Richard J. Ellis, a politics professor at Willamette University in Oregon who has authored several books on the American presidency. As a result, the Constitution makes no mention of anything like a Cabinet, instead saying only that the president shall have the power to appoint executive department heads, with the Senate’s approval, and that the president “may require the opinion, in writing,” of these officials. “The framers were of many minds on the question of how to establish an advisory apparatus,” Ellis told HISTORY, “and so took the path of least resistance and left it to be hashed out later.”

But although no mandate required him to form a Cabinet, President George Washington found the concept useful for soliciting advice on “interesting questions of national importance.” On September 11, 1789, just a few months after taking office, he sent his first nomination—Alexander Hamilton for Secretary of the Treasury—to the Senate, which within minutes unanimously approved the choice. Three more confirmations quickly followed: Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson, Secretary of War Henry Knox and Attorney General Edmund Randolph (the latter of whom, since he worked only part-time for the government, retained his private law practice). At first, Washington consulted with his four Cabinet members individually. By fall 1791, however, he had begun convening the whole group, and these meetings became commonplace in 1793 as tensions with revolutionary France heated up. Jefferson would later write that he and Hamilton were “daily pitted in the Cabinet like two cocks,” arguing feverishly over such things as the constitutionality of a national bank.

Since then, the number of executive departments—and hence the Cabinet—has slowly but steadily increased. The Department of the Navy (now part of the Department of Defense) was the first new one added in 1798 during the so-called XYZ Affair, Interior and Agriculture came in 1849 and 1889, respectively, as the United States expanded West, and Labor and Commerce (soon to be split into two) arose in 1903 as the nation underwent rapid industrialization. Four new departments were created in the 1960s and 1970s alone, followed by the Department of Veterans Affairs in 1989 and, most recently, the Department of Homeland Security, which formed in the immediate aftermath of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Initially, the vice president was not a Cabinet member, one reason that John Adams famously referred to it as “the most insignificant office that ever the invention of man contrived or his imagination conceived.” But in 1921, President Warren Harding invited VP Calvin Coolidge to regularly attend Cabinet meetings and to preside in his absence, and President Dwight D. Eisenhower solidified that practice three decades later. The postmaster general, meanwhile, was a Cabinet position for over 140 years prior to losing that status in 1971 when Congress re-designated the Post Office as “an independent establishment of the executive branch.”

Today, the Cabinet consists of the vice president, plus the heads of the 15 executive departments. Seven additional positions are currently considered “cabinet-rank,” including the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency and the White House chief of staff. Andrew Rudalevige, a professor of government at Bowdoin College in Maine, explained that the four original Cabinet posts—Defense, State, Treasury and Attorney General—remain the most important and are sometimes referred to as the “inner Cabinet.” “They get the best seats at the Cabinet table, and the people who are appointed tend to be high stature,” he said, adding that they deal with the “core functions of government: defense, diplomacy, money and protection of the law.” Most of the other executive departments, Rudalevige said, “grew out of interest groups that needed to be managed in some way.”

In theory, Cabinet meetings serve as a forum for exchanging ideas, resolving interdepartmental disputes and maintaining administrative coherence. In actuality, however, the days of Hamilton and Jefferson’s verbal bouts are long gone, largely because it’s difficult to have a meaningful conversation with so many people in the room. “The Cabinet as a collective advisory body is a nonfactor in the modern presidency,” Ellis said. “Cabinet meetings are infrequent, perfunctory and essentially meaningless.” Presidents often take office promising to hold regular Cabinet meetings, Rudalevige added, but “then they realize they hate them.” President John F. Kennedy, for example, once asked why the postmaster general should “sit there and listen to a discussion of the problems of Laos” whereas President Richard Nixon was even more blunt, telling his national security advisor, “Screw the Cabinet … I’m sick of the whole bunch.”

That’s not to say, though, that Cabinet picks aren’t important. All are responsible for running their massive executive departments, which together employ more than 4 million people, and many provide key advice to the president on an individual basis. Cabinet members moreover play a key political role, providing public support for White House policies and technical expertise in implementing them. And while a competent Cabinet can enhance a presidency, the opposite is likewise true. The administrations of Ulysses S. Grant and Warren Harding, for example, were both marred by scandals in the Cabinet, whereas in 1979 Jimmy Carter purged five Cabinet members all at once over questions of loyalty. “There’s often a love-hate relationship between the president and the Cabinet,” Rudalevige said.


History of the Presidential Cabinet - HISTORY

The Cabinet is a group of the President's top advisors. It is made up of the heads of the 15 main executive departments. Each of the department heads has the title Secretary, like Secretary of Defense or Secretary of Education, except for the head of the Justice Department who is called the Attorney General.

Cabinet members are chosen by the president and the confirmed by the Senate. The president can also remove cabinet members at any time. The Cabinet members are some of the most powerful people in the United States and each of their departments is important in the running of our country.

The Cabinet has a long history all the way back to the first President, George Washington. President Washington appointed a Cabinet of four people to help and advise him. The first Cabinet included Thomas Jefferson (Secretary of State), Alexander Hamilton (Secretary of the Treasury), Henry Knox (Secretary of War), and Edmund Randolph (Attorney General).

Below is a list of the different departments and a short description of each:

Department of Agriculture

You may know this department by it's shortened name, the USDA. The USDA plays an important role in overseeing farming and our food. They make sure that our food is safe and properly grown and prepared. They also make sure that our land is protected and that farmers can successfully grow food to feed the nation.

Department of Commerce

This department works on promoting the nation's economy. They do this by running programs that help technological innovation, supporting business and industry, and issuing patents and trademarks. The Department of Commerce also assists in international trade agreements and runs our telecommunications and technical policies.

Department of Defense

This department provides the military that defends our country. It includes the Army, Navy, and Air Force. It is headquartered at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia. The Department of Defense (DOD) is the government's largest agency.

Department of Education

This Department of Education promotes national education and works to keep America competitive and to make sure that education is available to everyone. The department works closely with the states to place financial aid and help where needed the most.

The Department of Energy is often called the DOE. The DOE works to advance the national, economic, and energy security of the United States. It helps to find new sources of clean, reliable energy through helping with scientific research and innovation.

Department of Health and Human Services

This department helps to keep Americans healthy. It helps with administering Medicare and Medicaid. Some major agencies report into this department including the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

Department of Homeland Security

This is a new department that was formed in 2002 by President George W. Bush after the 9/11 attacks. Its job is to prevent and disrupt terrorist attacks within the United States.

Department of Housing and Urban Development

This department works on national housing needs. It helps poorer families to buy homes. It is often referred to by its initials HUD.

Department of the Interior

This department handles the conservation of our land. It manages our national parks and works to protect our lands, wildlife, and natural resources.

Department of Justice

The job of the Department of Justice is to enforce the law and to protect public safety. It makes sure that criminals are prosecuted and that all Americans get fair justice. Some of the organizations included in this department include the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the US Marshals.

This department is responsible for making sure America has a strong workforce. It works on job training, safe working conditions, minimum wage, discrimination in the workplace, and unemployment insurance.

The Department of State handles our relationships with foreign countries. This includes diplomatic relationships with over 180 other countries. The Secretary of State is the President's top foreign advisor.

Department of Transportation

The DOT makes sure that there is fast and safe transportation around the United States. This is important for our economy and quality of life. They manage Federal Highways, and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) which makes sure flying is safe.

Department of the Treasury

This department manages the money for the United State financial systems. It not only makes the money, but collects taxes and makes sure that the government has the money to keep running.

Department of Veteran's Affairs

This department administers benefit programs for our veterans. This is to make sure that people who served in battle for the United States are taken care of once they are back home.


Origins

The cabinet system of government originated in Great Britain. The cabinet developed from the Privy Council in the 17th and early 18th centuries when that body grew too large to debate affairs of state effectively. The English monarchs Charles II (reigned 1660–85) and Anne (1702–14) began regularly consulting leading members of the Privy Council in order to reach decisions before meeting with the more unwieldy full council. By the reign of Anne, the weekly, and sometimes daily, meetings of this select committee of leading ministers had become the accepted machinery of executive government, and the Privy Council’s power was in inexorable decline. After George I (1714–27), who spoke little English, ceased to attend meetings with the committee in 1717, the decision-making process within that body, or cabinet, as it was now known, gradually became centred on a chief, or prime, minister. This office began to emerge during the long chief ministry (1721–42) of Sir Robert Walpole and was definitively established by Sir William Pitt later in the century.

The passage of the Reform Bill in 1832 clarified two basic principles of cabinet government: that a cabinet should be composed of members drawn from the party or political faction that holds a majority in the House of Commons and that a cabinet’s members are collectively responsible to the Commons for their conduct of the government. Henceforth no cabinet could maintain itself in power unless it had the support of a majority in the Commons. Unity in a political party proved the best way to organize support for a cabinet within the House of Commons, and the party system thus developed along with cabinet government in England.


The Cabinet

The Cabinet’s role is to advise the President on any subject he or she may require relating to the duties of each member’s respective office.

President Joe Biden’s Cabinet includes Vice President Kamala Harris and the heads of the 15 executive departments — the Secretaries of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, Labor, State, Transportation, Treasury, and Veterans Affairs, and the Attorney General. Additionally, the Cabinet includes the White House Chief of Staff, the US Ambassador to the United Nations, the Director of National Intelligence, and the US Trade Representative, as well as the heads of the Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Management and Budget, Council of Economic Advisers, Office of Science and Technology Policy, and Small Business Administration.

President Biden’s Cabinet reflects his pledge to appoint leaders of government agencies that reflect the country they aim to serve.


Cabinet Diversity Overtime

So, because “cabinet-level” positions are a bit ambiguous in their role as members of the cabinet and their membership varies overtime (for example, Biden is not including CIA Director in his cabinet, a departure from recent history) , let’s examine Biden’s cabinet diversity by excluding them. Notably, excluding them actually reduces Biden’s cabinet diversity, because many of his cabinet-level appointments were women or people of color. Still, in spite of that, Biden’s core cabinet appointments are the most diverse and heavily female in history. The chart below compares every president’s cabinet appointments.

(This, too, is not straightforward. The chart below considers a person to be “appointed” if they were confirmed by the Senate and actually served in the role. DHS Secretary Chad Wolf, who was never confirmed to his role, would not count as being in Donald Trump’s cabinet. In some cases a president has cabinet members serving who were appointed by a prior administration. This occurs when a president dies or resigns, and a vice president takes over. Because of inconsistencies across time in whether the vice president-turned-president kept these appointments or not, I have chosen to include them in the analysis. So, for example, Harry Truman is considered to have one woman in his cabinet because Francis Perkins continued in the role briefly after Franklin Roosevelt’s death.)

Biden’s proposed core cabinet is 60% white, the lowest in history. It is also 67% men, also the lowest in history. The chart below tabulates these appointments. Notably, Biden’s proposed cabinet also includes proportionately more women of color than any in history – and that does not include Kamala Harris herself. Further, Biden’s cabinet is the first in history to include an openly LGBT person – Pete Buttigieg as Transportation Secretary.

AdministrationWhite MalePOC MaleWhite FemalePOC FemaleTotal Serving/Appointed
Roosevelt2401025
96%0%4%0%
Truman3301034
97%0%3%0%
Eisenhower2001021
95%0%5% 0%
Kennedy1300013
100%0%0%0%
Johnson2410025
96%4%0% 0%
Nixon3100031
100%0%0%0%
Ford2111023
91%4%4% 0%
Carter1602321
76%0%10%14%
Reagan2823033
85%6%9% 0%
Bush HW1533021
71%14%14%0%
Clinton14114029
48%38%14% 0%
Bush W2174234
62%21%12%6%
Obama1596232
47%28%19% 6%
Trump1922124
79%8%8%4%
Biden (proposed)643215
40%27%20% 13%


Where does the president's cabinet come from? I'm Dr. Lindsay Chervinsky, here to discuss my new book 'The Cabinet: George Washington and the Creation of an American Institution' and early Presidential history, AMA!

The U.S. Constitution never established a presidential cabinet—the delegates to the Constitutional Convention explicitly rejected the idea. So how did George Washington create one of the most powerful bodies in the federal government?

On November 26, 1791, George Washington convened his department secretaries—Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, Henry Knox, and Edmund Randolph—for the first cabinet meeting. Why did he wait two and a half years into his presidency to call his cabinet? Because the U.S. Constitution did not create or provide for such a body. Washington was on his own.

Faced with diplomatic crises, domestic insurrections, and constitutional challenges—and finding congressional help lacking—Washington decided he needed a group of advisors he could turn to. He modeled his new cabinet on the councils of war he had led as commander of the Continental Army. In the early days, the cabinet served at the president’s pleasure. Washington tinkered with its structure throughout his administration, at times calling regular meetings, at other times preferring written advice and individual discussions.

The Cabinet reveals the far-reaching consequences of Washington’s choice. The tensions in the cabinet between Hamilton and Jefferson heightened partisanship and contributed to the development of the first party system. And as Washington faced an increasingly recalcitrant Congress, he came to treat the cabinet as a private advisory body to summon as needed, greatly expanding the role of the president and the executive branch.


Note: While not officially part of the Cabinet, the following positions currently have Cabinet-rank status:
White House Chief of Staff
Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency
Director of the Office of Management & Budget
United States Trade Representative
United States Ambassador to the United Nations
Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers
Administrator of the Small Business Administration

Why is it called "cabinet?" When did it first meet? How much do the secretaries make, who picks them and how long do they serve?


What History Tells Us about President-Elect Biden’s Cabinet

On Jan. 20, Joe Biden will take the oath of office and become the 46th President of the United States. While his administration is poised to break records for the number of women and people of color in senior positions, many of Biden’s selections are guided by historical precedent.

In 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed Frances Perkins as Secretary of Labor and the first woman to serve in a president’s cabinet. Since then most presidents have included at least one female cabinet secretary, and in most recent administrations presidents have inched toward gender parity. If Biden’s candidates are confirmed, his Cabinet will have more women than any other administration, including several “firsts.” Perhaps most surprisingly, Janet Yellen will be the first female treasury secretary, despite the department’s long history and creation in 1789. Avril Haines’ nomination as the first female director of national intelligence also carries important symbolic importance, as the intelligence agencies are historically male-dominated spaces.

While the precedent for women secretaries was established in the 1930s, the first person of color wasn’t nominated until 1966 when President Lyndon B. Johnson installed Robert Weaver as the secretary of the newly-created Department of Housing and Urban Development. Weaver’s nomination broke a long-held glass ceiling, but also started a powerful precedent. His leadership focused HUD on addressing the systemic racism and structural segregation endemic to government services because he represented the communities that required federal aid. Weaver’s academic scholarship analyzed segregation and housing inequalities, but he had also dedicated himself to these issues during his government service and he was a longtime civil rights advocate and leader of the Black community.


Women Members Who Served As Cabinet Members, United States Diplomats, and Vice President

To date, 16 congresswomen have served as Foreign Ministers, Ambassadors, Cabinet Secretaries, and Vice President. This chronological list includes 12 Representatives and four Senators. Of them, only Representative Margaret Heckler (R-MA, 1967–1983) served as both a Cabinet Secretary and an Ambassador. Senator Elizabeth Dole (R–NC, 2003–2009) served in two different Cabinet Secretary positions under two different Presidents. Kamala Devi Harris (D-CA, 2017–2021) became the first woman to serve as Vice President upon taking the oath of office on January 20, 2021.

Member NamePresidential AdministrationPosition
Ruth Bryan Owen First Administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt United States Minister to Denmark, 1933–1936
Emily Taft DouglasSecond Administration of Harry S. Truman United States Representative to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), 1950
Clare Boothe LuceFirst Administration of Dwight D. Eisenhower United States Ambassador to Italy, 1953–1957
Clare Boothe LuceSecond Administration of Dwight D. Eisenhower United States Ambassador to Brazil, 1959–1959*
Elizabeth DoleFirst Administration of Ronald ReaganSecretary of Transportation, 1983–1987
Millicent FenwickFirst Administration of Ronald ReaganUnited States Ambassador to the United Nations Agencies for Food and Agriculture, 1983–1985
Margaret M. HecklerFirst Administration of Ronald ReaganSecretary of Health & Human Services, 1983–1985
Margaret M. HecklerSecond Administration of Ronald ReaganUnited States Ambassador to Ireland, 1986–1989
Elizabeth DoleAdministration of George H.W. BushSecretary of Labor, 1989–1990
Lynn MartinAdministration of George H.W. BushSecretary of Labor, 1991–1993
Donna ShalalaFirst and Second Administration of William Jefferson ClintonSecretary of Health and Human Services, 1993–2001
Corinne Claiborne (Lindy) BoggsSecond Administration of William Jefferson ClintonUnited States Ambassador to the Vatican, 1997–2001
Carol Moseley-BraunSecond Administration of William Jefferson ClintonUnited States Ambassador to New Zealand, 1999–2001
Carol Moseley-BraunSecond Administration of William Jefferson ClintonUnited States Ambassador to Samoa, 1999–2001
Diane WatsonSecond Administration of William Jefferson ClintonUnited States Ambassador to the Federated States of Micronesia, 1999–2000
Constance A. MorellaFirst Administration of George W. BushUnited States Ambassador to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, 2003–2004
Constance A. MorellaSecond Administration of George W. BushUnited States Ambassador to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, 2004–2007
Hillary Rodham ClintonFirst Administration of Barack ObamaSecretary of State, 2009–2013
Hilda L. SolisFirst Administration of Barack ObamaSecretary of Labor, 2009–2013
Ellen O’Kane Tauscher First Administration of Barack ObamaUnder Secretary for Arms Control and International Security, Department of State, 2009–2012
Kamala Devi HarrisAdministration of Joseph R. Biden, Jr.Vice President of the United States of America

* Clare Boothe Luce was confirmed for Ambassador to Brazil by the Senate, but resigned before her sevice began.


Turnover on the president’s “A Team”

President Trump’s “A Team” turnover is 92% as of January 20, 2021

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 turnover among Donald Trump’s administration 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. For more information on these instances, see the “serial turnover” section below.

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 Cyril Sartor
1 Chief of Staff and Executive Secretary, NSC Keith Kellogg Cubic Defense Promoted 2/13/2017 Acting National Security Adviser Frederick Fleitz
1 National Security Adviser Michael Flynn Trump Campaign RUP 2/13/2017 Unknown H.R. McMaster
1 Assistant to the President (AP) and Senior Counselor for Economic Initiatives Dina Powell Goldman Sachs Promoted 3/15/2017 Deputy National Security Adviser for Strategy Unknown
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 RUP 5/19/2017 Ambassadorial nomination withdrew/unknown Dina Powell/Ricky Waddell
1 AP and Communications Director Michael Dubke Black Rock Group RUP 5/30/2017 Georgetown University lecturer, Black Rock Group Anthony Scaramucci**
1 Press Secretary Sean Spicer RNC RUP 7/21/2017 Worldwide Speakers Group Sarah Huckabee Sanders
1 Principal Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee 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 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 Unknown
1 AP and Director of Public Liaison George Sifakis Gov’t Relations RUP 8/18/2017 Ideagen Justin Clark
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 McChrystal Group Promoted 9/11/2017 Special Adviser in the Office of Policy Planning, U.S. State Department Lt. Gen. (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 Position abolished
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
1 AP and Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy Rick Dearborn U.S. Senate staff Resigned 12/23/2017 resignation announced, departed 3/13/2018 The Cypress Group Chris Liddell
Year Position Name Prior Job Nature of departure* Date of departure announcement Where to? Successor
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 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. 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 Jones Day Pat Cipollone
2 SAP and Director of Communications for the First Lady Stephanie Grisham Trump Campaign Promoted November 2018 Deputy Chief of Staff for Communications Unknown
2 DAP and Director of White House Management, Office of Administration Marcia Lee Kelly RNC Resigned November 2018 Trump Reelection Campaign Monica Block
2 DAP and Political Director Bill Stepien Trump Campaign Resigned 12/7/2018 Trump Reelection Campaign Brian Jack
2 OMB Director Mick Mulvaney Member, House of Representatives (R-SC) Promoted 12/14/2018 Acting Chief of Staff Russell Vought
Year Position Name Prior Job Nature of departure* Date of departure announcement Where to? Successor
3 AP and Director of Domestic Policy Council Andrew Bremberg RNC Promoted January 2019 U.S. Representative to UN in Geneva Joe Grogan
3 Administrator, OIRA Neomi Rao George Mason Law School Resigned 3/13/2019 Federal judge, D.C. Circuit Paul Ray
3 SAP and Director of Organizational Structure and Human Capital Kirk Ryan Marshall Trump campaign Promoted March 2019 DAP and Deputy Cabinet Secretary for Organizational Structure Unknown
3 Member, White House Council of Economic Advisers Richard Burkhauser Professor Resigned May 2019 Cornell University Unknown
3 Associate Director for Natural Resources, Energy, and Science OMB James P. Herz Senior Policy Analyst, Budget Committee House of Representatives Promoted 6/1/2019 Chief Performance Officer, The Department of Energy Unknown
3 Chair, White House Council of Economic Advisers Kevin Hassett American Enterprise Institute Resigned 6/2/2019 Unknown Tomas Philipson (acting)
3 DAP and Cabinet Secretary William McGinley Jones Day Resigned 6/28/2019 (July departure) Vogel Group Kristan King Nevins
3 Senior Director for Europe and Russia, NSC Fiona Hill Brookings Institution Resigned 6/17/2019 (August departure) Unknown Tim Morrison
3 Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats U.S. Senator RUP 7/28/2019 King and Spalding John Ratcliffe
3 AP and Special Representative for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt Trump Organization Resigned 9/5/2019 Unknown Avi Berkowitz
3 Senior Director for Asia, NSC Matthew Pottinger U.S. Marine Corps Promoted 9/22/2019 Deputy National Security Adviser Unknown
Year Position Name Prior Job Nature of departure* Date of departure announcement Where to? Successor
4 Deputy AP and Deputy Communications Director and Research Director Jessica Ditto Office of Ky. Gov. Matt Bevin Trump campaign Resigned 3/30/2020 Private sector Unknown
4 AP and Chief of Staff to the First Lady Lindsay Reynolds The LBR Group/event planning Resigned 4/6/2020 Family time Stephanie Grisham
4 AP and Director of Social Media Dan Scavino Trump campaign Promoted 4/21/2020 AP and Deputy Chief of Staff for Communications Unknown
4 Deputy AP for Legislative Affairs and Senate Deputy Director Amy Swonger Invariant GR, Principal Promoted 6/5/2020 AP and Acting Director of the Office of Legislative Affairs Unknown
4 Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway Trump campaign Resigned 8/24/2020 Unknown Unknown
4 DAP and Senior Director for South and Central Asia Lisa Curtis Heritage Foundation Resigned 1/8/2021 Center for New American Security Unknown
SUMMARY: 60/65 (92%) “A Team” positions have turned over.
* 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, the category “resigned under pressure” was created to capture the general sentiment at the time of their departure. Highlighted text indicates a position that went through multiple instances of turnover see the “Serial turnover” section below for more details.
** Author’s note: Anthony Scaramucci was communications director for 11 days. He was succeeded by Hope Hicks, who resigned Feb. 28, 2018. On July 5, 2018, Bill Shine was appointed to the White House communications director role with a slightly different official title, “Assistant to the President and Deputy Chief of Staff for Communications” he resigned on March 8, 2019. Stephanie Grisham subsequently took over both the communications director and press secretary roles.
*** Author’s note: After Thomas Bossert’s departure, incoming National Security Adviser John Bolton folded the position of “AP for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism” into the National Security Council with the new title of “Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Advisor.”
Sources: Multiple news websites, LinkedIn, WhiteHouse.gov, and other government websites.

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.

45% of President Trump’s “A Team” departures have undergone serial turnover as of January 20, 2021

Position Original Replacement 1 Replacement 2 Replacement 3 Replacement 4 Replacement 5 Replacement 6
Chief of Staff Reince Priebus John Kelly Mick Mulvaney (acting) Mark Meadows
Deputy Chief of Staff** Katie Walsh Kirstjen Nielsen Zachary Fuentes Emma Doyle John Fleming
Chief of Staff to the VP Josh Pitcock Nick Ayers Marc Short
Chief of Staff to the First Lady Lindsay Reynolds Stephanie Grisham Unknown
Communications Director* Michael Dubke Anthony Scaramucci Hope Hicks Bill Shine Stephanie Grisham Alyssa Farah Unknown
Press Secretary Sean Spicer Sarah Huckabee Sanders Stephanie Grisham Kayleigh McEnany
Director of Strategic Communications Hope Hicks Mercedes Schlapp Unknown
Principal Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders Raj Shah Hogan Gidley Brian R. Morgenstern
Director of Public Liaison George Sifakis Justin Clark Timothy Pataki
Director of Oval Office Operations Keith Schiller Jordan Karem Madeleine Westerhout Nicholas F. Luna
Director of Presidential Personnel John DeStefano Sean Doocey John McEntee
Staff Secretary Rob Porter Derek Lyons Unknown
Director of Presidential Advance George Gigicos Robert L. Peede Max Miller Unknown
Deputy White House Counsel** Greg Katsas Uttam Dhillon Patrick Philbin
National Security Adviser Michael Flynn HR McMaster John Bolton Robert C. O’Brien
Deputy National Security Adviser KT McFarland Dina Powell/Ricky Waddell Nadia Schadlow Mira Ricardel Charles Kupperman Matthew Pottinger/Victoria Coates*** Unknown
AP for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Thomas Bossert Doug Fears Peter Brown Julia Nesheiwat
Chief of Staff and Executive Secretary, NSC Keith Kellogg Frederick Fleitz Joan Virginia O’Hara Matthias Mitman
Senior Director of Intelligence, NSC Ezra Cohen Watnick Michael Barry Michael Ellis
Senior Director for Europe and Russia, NSC Fiona Hill Tim Morrison Andrew Peek Tom Williams Ryan Tully Unknown
Senior Director for Africa, NSC Derek Harvey Cyril Sartor Elizabeth Erin Walsh
Director of Domestic Policy Council Andrew Bremberg Joe Grogan Brooke Rollins (acting)
Deputy Director, National Economic Council and International Economic Affairs Everett Eissenstat Cletus Willems Kelly Ann Shaw Thomas Storch Francis Brooke
Chair, White House Council of Economic Advisers Kevin Hassett Tomas Philipson (acting) Tyler Goodspeed (acting) Unknown
Deputy Director of the Domestic Policy Council and Director of Budget Policy Paul Winfree Lance Leggitt Jenniver Bardley Lichter
White House Director of Legislative Affairs Marc Short Shahira Knight Eric Ueland Amy Swonger
AP for Intergovernmental and Technology Initiatives Reed Cordish Brooke Rollins Unknown
SUMMARY: 27/60 (45%) “A Team” departures have turned over twice or more.
* Author’s note: For the purposes of this study, we count Michael Dubke as the first communications director, since Sean Spicer was serving in a temporary capacity until the Trump administration filled the job with a permanent candidate.
** Author’s note: Notice 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.
*** Author’s note: Upon the departure of former Deputy National Security Adviser Charles Kupperman, National Security Adviser Robert C. O’Brien divided the duties of that position between Matthew Pottinger and Victoria Coates. On Feb. 20, 2020, the National Security Council said that Coates had left the position and been reassigned as a senior adviser to Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette on Jan. 7, reports indicated that Pottinger had resigned.

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