Yesterday, President Trump gave a speech that I characterized as much more ominous than celebratory to commemorate his acquittal on all articles of impeachment. It was ominous because President Trump is, rightfully, in my view, extremely angry about the three and a half years of his presidency that has been squandered fighting one bogus allegation after another. He’s clearly in the mood for payback and, as a son of Appalachia who has the call to feud imprinted in his DNA, I can respect that. That press conference was barely over before the rumors were flying that National Security Council staffer, Army Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, the bloated little toad who connived with his buddies Eric Ciamarella and Sean Misko to create an impeachable offense for Adam Schiff to glom onto, was going to be sent back to Department of Defense, possibly as early as close-of-business today. (See Impeachment Figure Alexander Vindman May be Poised to be Removed from the National Security Council.)
In an exchange with reporters just moments ago, President Trump as much as confirmed this was the case.
Reporter: Mr. President would you like to see Alexander Vindman out of your White House?
President Trump: Well, I’m not happy with him. Do you think I’m supposed to be happy with him? I’m not. They’ll make that decision. You’ll be hearing. They’ll make a decision.
The removal of Vindman is really a nothingburger. The National Security Council is part of the Executive Office of the President making those people members of the personal staff of the President, not members of some other executive agency. Neither Vindman nor anyone else working there has any property interest in the job and removal of a staffer does not mean, unfortunately, in this case, unemployment. Vindman will return to a position somewhere in either the Army or Defense and continue to Resist! his fat little butt off. The left is exercised but screw ’em if they can’t take a joke. They need to get used to the idea of absolutely no one caring about their latest tantrum.
What is missing here is the damage done to the nation by Vindman and his cronies by engaging in what can only be called soft sedition. As members of the personal staff of the President, they have a unique responsibility to see the that the national security policy of the President, not that arrived at by ‘interagency consensus,’ is carried out. If they decide that they can’t loyally serve the President, they are free to return to their agency. If they know they can’t support the President and they stay in the NSC for the purpose of sabotaging his agenda, or, in this case, dummying up a specious case of ‘serious concern’ as the pretext for impeachment, then you’ve not only forfeited your honor, as minuscule as that was, you deserve everything a furious President can send your way.
This whole incident is simply part of the problem facing any outsider taking office and why reformers usually fail. While the candidate, in this case Trump, is elected to change things, he arrives in office without a network of loyalists. Rather he depends upon the existing power structure to provide him with staff and recommendations. He has to operate on the basis of trust because he does not have the time to search out these people himself. He has to force himself to believe that all those ‘impartial civil servants’ are just that. In Trump’s case he was very ill-served by the GOP establishment. The personnel selections in his first year were nearly unmitigated disasters. In no sane world does an Obama-appointed US Attorney–that would be Rod Rosenstein–get promoted to be Deputy Attorney General. If Trump had been in charge of personnel, dyed-in-the-wool NeverTrumpers would not have been given prominent positions. How did a institutional tool like Christopher Wray ever get selected to reform an agency he’s obviously enamored of? Even in the case where good people were brought it, and I put former EPA administrator Scott Pruitt in that category, an entrenched far-left bureaucracy intent upon protecting policies put in place under Barack Obama worked to have them dismissed.
Much of the turmoil of the past three years can be directly attributed to the fact that the Trump administration was far, far too passive in removing from any responsible position anyone who was known to have close friendships with any member of the Obama administration. They left the White House Personnel Office in enemy hands. They permitted security clearances to be denied and delayed for key staff on the say-so of people who were opposed to Trump and his administration. One can only surmise that they hoped to win over people who loathed them by kindness.
I’m hopeful that President Trump’s speech yesterday signals a new way of doing business, that he finally recognizes that much of his difficulties can be traced to having people in key positions who were intent upon destroying him, and that he’s going after that clique with fire and sword.