Alex Wong / Getty Images
Working for the pleasure of President Trump means never knowing when your last day will come and whether the outcome will be on your terms. The resignation of National Security Advisor John Bolton this week (or was it fired ?) Is just the latest example.
When Former Secretary of State Steve Goldstein woke up on the morning of March 13, 2018, he didn't make it, I don't know that he would have been fired. He went to the gym and rode 13,000 meters on the rowing comb, the longest he had ever done. Then things went south.
"I think when you are fired for the first time, and especially in my case, when I saw it unfold on CNN and then received a call from the White House, it was quite shocking," Goldstein said.  Goldstein's Secretary of State, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, was ousted this morning after months of rumors of his relationship with Trump. The message came via tweet, as they often do. But Tillerson did not go quietly. Goldstein came out with a statement on his behalf that contradicted the official shooting narrative and said, "The secretary did not speak to the president this morning and did not know the cause."
And then Goldstein himself was fired after three months in office.
"You know you're getting into it, it can happen," Goldstein said. "I mean, I was not naive about that, and frankly, it is the president's competence to have anyone decide to work for them."
But this much uncertainty contributes to the large number of vacancies in the Trump administration and an ever-increasing period of time for someone to be permanent (or as permanent as anyone can be) in these key roles. There was a dramatic problem with the time it took the Trump administration to fill vacancies in cabinets and at a high level, and there were many people in "acting" roles, with no end in sight.
NPR analysis finds that, following David Schulkin's forced resignation as Secretary of Veterans Affairs at the end of March 2018, none of the Cabinet vacancies confirmed new executives in less than 90 days. But the closure is not in Congress. It takes Trump more time to name heirs for ousted assistants and agency executives, and several of his original selections have had to retire. Of the announced departures in the last five months, only one has an heir who has been appointed and officially nominated.
Don't see the chart above? Click here.
"There is a very small set of people who are acceptable to President Trump and people who have had the necessary experience who would want these jobs," says Catherine Dun Tenpas, a researcher who specializes in the fluidity of the White House at the Brookings Institution. "This, combined with his impulsive nature and his tendency to fire people more than any other president I have studied, means that there will be no vacancies for a long time."
In many cases, President Trump has claimed that people claim to work in his administration.
"I have five people who want him a lot. I mean, I want to have a lot more than that," Trump said Wednesday of possible replacements of Bolton. "We will announce someone next week, but we have some highly qualified people."
He made a similar request last December to replace John Kelly as chief of staff. "We have a lot of people who want the position of chief of staff," Trump said. "In a week or two, or maybe less, we'll announce who it is."
Instead, a few days later he announced that Mick Malvani, Director of the Office of Management and Budget,
More than 270 days later, Mulwani is still acting, as is Russell White, who is acting budget director.
On August 8, Trump said a new director of national intelligence would be "baptized soon" after Dan Coates resigned and Trump's initial choice fell into check and retired. "This is the job that everyone wants," Trump boasted.
But more than a month later, there is an acting director, and there is no indication that Trump will soon make a permanent election.
"As far as I'm concerned, acting is good," Trump recently said when asked about the large number of people in seemingly acting roles. "Acting gives you a lot of flexibility that you don't have with the constant, so I'm fine with the word acting. But when I like people, I make them permanent. But I can let it play for a long time. " And he has.
The Secretary of Defense "acted" for more than six months, the longest vacancy in history for this critical role.
"There have never been so many acting at the same time in these highly visible positions," Tenpas says.
One reason is that departures to the Trump administration have rarely been events planned, especially recently. Former Secretary of Defense Jim Matisse resigned abruptly over a policy disagreement, and then President Trump asked him to leave the post before a replacement could be appointed.
Homeland Security Secretary Christieen Nielsen was ousted in April. A permanent successor has not yet been named and Kevin M. Kyle continues to work with "acting" before the title, 158 days passed.
When Labor Secretary Alex Acosta resigned in July amid a dispute over a Jeffrey Epstein case years earlier in Florida, Trump did not It took him less than a week later when he announced that Eugene Scalia would be nominated for the role, but it took two months before the White House officially sent the nomination to Capitol Hill, exactly yesterday. Why would it take so long? Because the confirmation process requires a lot of background checks and documents, it is difficult to do this in advance if resignations and layoffs are not planned.
For those who respond to the call to serve in the Trump administration, jobs are more ephemeral than in past administrations and have a decent chance of leaving with little damage.
"I can't say that no reputation has been improved and I can point to a number of people who look a lot worse after working for President Trump," said Tenpas of the Brookings Institution.
Tenpas tracks shootings and transitions in the Trump administration, she has run out of superlatives and a spot in her staff turnover chart in past administrations, she has created a new chart just to track "serial turnover" when there are at least three or more people "
" This is a new chart because this never need it never happened before. I had no reason to make this chart, "Tenpas said.
The National Security Advisor, White House chief of staff and communications directors had a serial turnover. But there is also something in the way that leaving the administration happened both at staff and cabinet levels, suddenly, publicly, playing with foreign cable news, often without a well-tested replacement, ready to take the job.
Looking back over her data and studying with other presidents, Tenpas came to the conclusion that "there was never much many visible departures or people fired under adverse circumstances and resignations under pressure. "
Which raises the question Goldstein says he was asked almost every day after leaving the State Department:" why did you go to Washington to serve in the Trump administration? "Especially knowing that it can end the way it did.
His answer is this: he felt that they were able to do good things during their short term and" I in general, I believe you have an obligation to service yours on the other hand, and until you are put in that position where you are asked to … serve, you do not know what your answer would be. "
Almost a year and a half later, no one is still nominated to fill the post of Goldstein, Secretary of State for State Diplomacy.
Don't see the chart above?