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.
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:
“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:
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:
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:
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: