Advisers to President Donald Trump are urging him to purge the government of former President Barack Obama’s political appointees and quickly install more people who are loyal to him, amid a cascade of damaging stories that have put his nascent administration in seemingly constant crisis-control mode.
A number of his advisers believe Obama officials are behind the leaks and are seeking to undermine his presidency, with just the latest example coming from reports that Attorney General Jeff Sessions met twice last year with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. and apparently misled senators about the interactions during his confirmation hearing.
That was coupled with a New York Times story that Obama appointees spread information about the investigation into the Trump campaign’s contacts with Russia in an attempt to create a paper trail about the probe. Trump’s aides have also blamed Obama appointees for other damaging leaks, like Trump’s erratic phone calls with foreign leaders.
Inside the White House, the chatter about Obama officials in the government has heightened in recent weeks, one administration official said. And advisers are saying it is time to take action.
“His playbook should be to get rid of the Obama appointees immediately,” said Newt Gingrich, a top surrogate. “There are an amazing number of decisions that are being made by appointees that are totally opposed to Trump and everything he stands for. Who do you think those people are responding to?”
“If you employ people who aren’t loyal to you, you can’t be surprised when they leak,” said Roger Stone, another longtime adviser. A third person close to Trump said: “He should have gotten these people who are out to get him out a long time ago, a long, long time ago. I think they know that now.”
The reality, however, is more complicated: The White House has thousands of open jobs across the agencies, many nonpolitical civilian employees are critical of the administration, and some Cabinet secretaries say they need the Obama people during a rocky transition.