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Donald Trump just keeps making history (on Cabinet departures)

Donald Trump is fond of reminding you -- well, everyone really -- that he is making history all the damn tim...

Posted: Dec 18, 2018 9:34 AM
Updated: Dec 18, 2018 9:34 AM

Donald Trump is fond of reminding you -- well, everyone really -- that he is making history all the damn time.

"Nobody's done what I've done, and what this administration has done in the first two years, and we're not even that close to two years," Trump told Fox News' Harris Faulkner last week.

Donald Trump

Political Figures - US

In at least one respect, Trump is 100% right! What is it, you ask? The record number of senior people leaving his administration!

(OK, that last exclamation point was, admittedly, gratuitous.)

According to the indispensable Kathryn Dunn Tenpas at Brookings, 65% -- 65%!!!! -- of Trump's senior staffers and Cabinet officials have left the administration over the course of the past two-ish years.

How does that compare to past Republican presidents? Trump has already passed the 63% attrition rate of Cabinet members and top staffers in the first four years of George W. Bush's presidency and has nearly matched the 66% of top-level departures in George H.W. Bush's first term.

Trump is on pace -- if the departures keep up at anything close to this rate -- to shatter the record for senior level departures in a first term, currently held by Ronald Reagan.

Trump has already tied the record for the number of Cabinet officials who have left his administration at 12; he shares that mark with Bill Clinton, who saw 12 Cabinet members leave over his first four years in office. Trump has already eclipsed both Barack Obama (nine Cabinet officials left in first term) and George W. Bush (four Cabinet departures) even though he is not yet through two full years in office.

Trump and his surrogates -- those who remain, that is -- will insist the level of attrition is born of the breakneck pace he keeps that is hard for anyone (and everyone) to keep up with.

The real reason? Trump brought in a number of people for Cabinet jobs that either a) were badly under-qualified b) carried major conflicts of interest or c) quickly realized the perils of serving such a mercurial president.

The Point: This amount of change at the top of an administration is nothing even close to normal, and it speaks to the chaotic world that Trump seems to cultivate.

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