The White House’s presidential personnel office is conducting one-on-one interviews with health officials and hundreds of other political appointees across federal agencies, an exercise some of the subjects have called “loyalty tests” to root out threats of leaks and other potentially subversive acts just months before the presidential election.
“It’s an exercise in ferreting out people who are perceived as not Trump enough,” said one person briefed on the meetings. “If they’re spending time trying to hunt down leakers, that’s time they’re taking away from advancing an agenda,” a former senior administration official told. “And that’s irresponsible.”
One senior administration official familiar with the interview process shared, “It just seems like you could be a rocket scientist, but all they care about is whether you are MAGA. It is fair to do something to prepare to fill jobs in a second term, but right now, it is hard to know what the metrics are with this personnel office for being successful. There is no set criteria for what makes a good political appointee.”
Head of Obama’s presidential personnel office Rudy Mehrbani expressed, “I could definitely see that kind of questioning being uncomfortable and creating unease among political appointees, If you are working in one subject area like Peace Corps or USAID, that does not mean you are signing on to the administration’s position on funding for reproductive rights.”
Plus he added, “You would think they would want to shore up the bench in response to the pandemic or start getting ready to fill expected gaps because people get sick or they leave. In the run up to a transition, historically, there is lots of turnover. Those are the things the personnel office should be tending to.”
A White House insider stated, “If we’re going to extend this amount of capital on you, and push for you, they should ask more questions. I’m glad they’re doing it finally, The fact that PPO is finally considering whether people are aligned with the president — it’s long overdue.” Is this a fair point?