Sep 22, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Meadows puts agencies on notice about staff shake-up

Mark Meadows email

Internal government email obtained by Axios

White House chief of staff Mark Meadows told administration officials Monday to expect senior aides to be replaced at many government agencies, according to an internal email obtained by Axios.

Behind the scenes: Meadows asked the director of the White House Presidential Personnel Office John McEntee "to look at replacing the White House Liaisons (WHLs) at many of your agencies," according to the email. "John will be working with outgoing liaisons to explore other opportunities."

  • "Please welcome incoming liaisons as they begin their new roles," Meadows wrote. "I ask that you encourage your teams to equip the WHLs with everything they need to support your agency and the President's agenda."
  • "It is important that WHLs have direct access to principals and senior staff regarding all political hiring decisions."

Why it matters: As Meadows reminded the recipients of his email, these liaisons are the senior-level staff responsible for managing political appointees within each agency.

The White House declined to comment.

Between the lines: Liaisons are the White House's eyes and ears inside the agencies — and in the Trump administration they're charged with enforcing loyalty to the president and his agenda.

  • McEntee, the president's 30-year-old former body man who now runs hiring for the government, has become a controversial figure within the agencies.
  • Since taking over the role, McEntee has been systematically purging or reassigning agency officials deemed insufficiently loyal to Trump.
  • As we have previously reported, McEntee, in a highly unusual campaign, has been making significant staffing changes inside top federal agencies "without the consent — and, in at least one case, without even the knowledge — of the agency head."
  • This has not endeared him to some agency heads and career officials, but Trump expressed delight at McEntee's efforts, according to sources familiar with the president's private comments.

What we're hearing: Some of McEntee's moves have backfired — with media outlets printing articles about young, unqualified picks and others with a public history of incendiary or homophobic statements.

  • It's noteworthy that this latest staffing direction comes from Meadows, not McEntee.
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