Trump just signed an executive order letting him purge thousands of federal workers for disloyalty

Vanity Fair – Levin Report

Trump just signed an executive order letting him purge thousands of federal workers for disloyalty

Even if he loses, the action could sabotage a Biden administration indefinitely.
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Historically, when Donald Trump has signed executive orders, like to issue a travel ban against people from majority-Muslim nations or to sabotage the Affordable Care Act, he’s done so with lots of fanfare, tweeting about how they’ve made America great again, inviting camera crews to watch him scribble his Sharpie across the page, and sending his lieutenants out to brag about them on TV. But last week, the White House was relatively, strangely quiet as the president signed the esoteric-sounding “Executive Order on Creating Schedule F In the Excepted Service.” And that was probably by design; because the action not only gives Trump the power to purge thousands of federal workers—the kind whose job protections have allowed them to deal in facts and stand up to presidential intimidation—and replace them with politically appointed hacks who would spend the next four years doing Trump’s bidding, but it would cripple a Biden administration for months, at a time when it will need to act fast on, among other things, COVID-19.

Of course, that’s not how the administration has summarized the EO, saying, instead that it’s all about getting rid of “poor performers.” But competence has never been of much interest to Trump, who evaluates who is the best person for any given job based on how hard they kiss his ass and pledge to do his bidding no matter what. Unfortunately, until now the president has been bedeviled by rules saying he can’t just fire civil servants for writing reports that say mask-wearing helps stop the spread of COVID-19, or coal mining is hastening climate change, or refusing to say that a hurricane was headed for Alabama when it definitely wasn’t. Thus, this new plan.

Here’s how the Independent describes it:

The order…would strip civil service protections from a broad swath of career civil servants if it is decided that they are in “confidential, policy-determining, policy-making, or policy-advocating positions”—a description previously reserved for the political appointees who come and go with each change in administration. It does that by creating a new category for such positions that do not turn over from administration to administration and reclassifying them as part of that category.

The range of workers who could be stripped of protections and placed in this new category is vast, experts say, and could include most of the non-partisan experts—scientists, doctors, lawyers, economists—whose work to advise and inform policymakers is supposed to be done in a way that is fact-driven and devoid of politics. Trump has repeatedly clashed with such career workers on a variety of settings, ranging from his desire to present the COVID-19 pandemic as largely over, to his attempts to enable his allies to escape punishment for federal crimes, to his quixotic insistence that National Weather Service scientists back up his erroneous claim that the state of Alabama was threatened by a hurricane which was not heading in its direction.

In creating the new category, called “Schedule F,” Trump would basically take employees whose jobs are nonpolitical and are protected from, for instance, a president who doesn‘t believe science is real, and make them “at will,” while at the same time, giving political appointees the very job protection he’s stripping from civil servants. That would obviously be extremely bad under a scenario in which Trump is elected to a second term—as the Washington Post puts it, “think of the Federal Aviation Administration employee evaluating whether an airliner is safe to fly” or “the Food and Drug Administration employee evaluating the efficacy of a vaccine”—and there isn‘t a single person left in the federal government who is qualified or non-corrupt. But it would also mean, in the likely event Trump loses, he could go scorched earth and screw over Joe Biden when time is of the essence:

Creating the new category…could allow a lame-duck President Trump to cripple his successor’s administration by firing any career federal employees who’ve been included on the list. It also could allow Trump administration officials to skirt prohibitions against “burrowing in”—the heavily restricted practice of converting political appointees (known as “Schedule C” employees) into career civil servants—by hiring them under the new category for positions which would not end with Trump’s term. Another provision orders agencies to take steps to prohibit removing “Schedule F” appointees from their jobs on the grounds of “political affiliation,” which could potentially prevent a future administration from firing unqualified appointees because of their association with President Trump.

“It’s a two-pronged attack—a Hail Mary pass to enable them to do some burrowing in if they lose the election,” Walter Shaub, who ran the U.S. Office of Government Ethics during Barack Obama’s second term and in first six months of the Trump administration, told reporter Andrew Feinberg. “But if they win the election, then anything goes for the destruction of the civil service… [This could] take us back to the spoils system and all the corruption that comes with it.” Or as New Jersey chief innovation officer Beth Noveck put it, “It’s the twin danger of both firing [someone like Dr. Anthony] Fauci and replacing him with Eric Trump’s wedding planner permanently.” Or, say, a guy who thinks the government’s strategy to combat the pandemic should be to let 2 million Americans get it and die.

In a sign of just how catastrophic the action could ultimately prove, on Sunday, Ronald Sanders, the Trump-appointed head of an advisory council on the civil service, quit in protest, writing in his resignation letter that the order “is nothing more than a smoke screen for what is clearly an attempt to require the political loyalty of those who advise the President, or failing that, to enable their removal with little if any due process.“ He added: “I simply cannot be part of an Administration that seeks…to replace apolitical expertise with political obeisance. Career Federal employees are legally and duty-bound to be nonpartisan; they take an oath to preserve and protect our Constitution and the rule of law…not to be loyal to a particular President or Administration.”

Or as Richard Loeb, a senior policy counsel at the American Federation of Government Employees, put it to the New York Times: “This is a declaration of war on the career Civil Service. It is an attempt to politicize the process and to hire cronies and fire enemies. It is really a 19th-century concept.”

Surprise: a Minnesota outbreak has been linked to Trump campaign events

Who could have predicted this, other than everyone? Per CNN:

Minnesota is reporting three COVID-19 outbreaks related to Trump campaign events held in September. At least 21 cases have been traced to outbreaks occurring at rally events in Bemidji on Sept. 18, a speech held by Vice President Mike Pence on Sept. 24 in Minneapolis, and another rally held by the President on Sept. 30 in Duluth, the Minnesota Department of Health said in an email to CNN. President Trump’s Bemidji rally took place in an airport hanger. According to a CNN producer who attended the event, at least 2,000 people were in attendance. Based on contact tracing by the state department of health, at least 16 cases, including two hospitalizations, were identified among attendees.

In the month proceeding the rally, the seven-day average of new cases in Beltrami County, where Bemidji is located, was 2.85 new cases a day, according to Johns Hopkins University. On the day of the rally it had climbed up slightly to three new cases a day. But four weeks after, the average rate of new cases in the county had increased more than fourfold, reaching an average of 14.57 new cases a day.

Trump’s rallies, which have only increased in frequency since he himself contracted COVID-19, have been largely mask-free affairs where social distancing is nonexistent, which probably has something to do with the fact that the president has alternatively told supporters that the virus is a hoax or that it’s real but we’re “rounding the corner” (as cases surge).

Trump’s new coronavirus spin: doctors are inflating their case numbers to make extra cash

We say this a lot, and sometimes on a daily basis, but the president of the United States is truly a malignant tumor:

Donald Trump attacked U.S. doctors in a speech Saturday night, accusing them of fabricating the coronavirus death toll for money. He gave the example of someone with a terminal illness getting COVID-19, whose death is then written off as due to the virus.

“We report them, and doctors get more money, and hospitals get more money,” he said. “Some countries, they report differently. If somebody is sick with a heart problem, and they die of COVID-19, they say they die of a heart problem…. This country,” he continued, “and their reporting systems are really not doing it right,” by naming COVID-19 as the cause of death, and not the terminal illness. Trump added, “We’re gonna start looking at things, because they have things a little bit backwards.”

At the same rally, the president gleefully recounted an MSNBC reporter getting hit by “pepper spray or a canister of tear gas,” saying he’d “never seen anyone go down so fast.”

Jared and Ivanka are not fans of Time Square billboards broadcasting their role in mass murder

Unfortunately for Javanka, they’re unlikely to come down any time soon:

The Lincoln Project “will not be intimidated by empty bluster,” a lawyer for the group wrote late on Saturday, in response to a threat from an attorney for Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner over two billboards put up in Times Square. “Sue if you must,” Matthew Sanderson said.

The New York City billboards show the president’s daughter and her husband, both senior White House advisers, displaying apparent indifference to public suffering under COVID-19. Kushner is shown next to the quote “[New Yorkers] are going to suffer and that’s their problem,” above a line of body bags. Trump is shown gesturing, with a smile, to statistics for how many New Yorkers and Americans as a whole have died…. On Friday, Marc Kasowitz, an attorney who has represented the president against allegations of fraud and sexual assault, wrote to the Lincoln Project, demanding the “false, malicious, and defamatory” ads be removed, or “we will sue you for what will doubtless be enormous compensatory and punitive damages.”

In a legal response on Saturday night, attorney Matthew Sanderson told Kasowitz: “Please peddle your scare tactics elsewhere. The Lincoln Project will not be intimidated by such empty bluster…your clients are no longer Upper East Side socialites, able to sue at the slightest offense to their personal sensitivities.

Kasowitz claimed Kushner “never said” the words attributed to him by the ad, which were reported by journalist Katherine Eban in a Vanity Fair article last month. He also said Ivanka Trump “never made the gesture” she is shown to make. “May I suggest,” Sanderson said, “that if Mr. Kushner and Ms. Trump are genuinely concerned about salvaging their reputations, they would do well to stop suppressing truthful criticism and instead turn their attention to the COVID-19 crisis that is still unfolding under their inept watch. These billboards are not causing [their] standing with the public to plummet. Their incompetence is.”

On the bright side…

While Ivanka and Jared may no longer be welcome on the Upper East Side or in other Manhattan neighborhoods, Staten Island would apparently love to have them, a consolation prize we’re sure has brought the couple great comfort:

“The reality is if you kill thousands and thousands and thousands of New Yorkers, you’re not going to re-enter polite society and go to the Met ball,” said the writer Molly Jong-Fast, a senior adviser to the Lincoln Project. The couple might be greeted warmly in some parts of the city, said Joe Borelli, a councilman from Staten Island—which voted for the president in 2016. Mr. Borelli said he has no insight into “polite society” but noted that Ms. Trump and Mr. Kushner “are always welcome on Staten Island.”


Author: John Hanno

Born and raised in Chicago, Illinois. Bogan High School. Worked in Alaska after the earthquake. Joined U.S. Army at 17. Sergeant, B Battery, 3rd Battalion, 84th Artillery, 7th Army. Member of 12 different unions, including 4 different locals of the I.B.E.W. Worked for fortune 50, 100 and 200 companies as an industrial electrician, electrical/electronic technician.

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