President Donald Trump promised as a candidate that he would hire only “the best people” for his administration. In just the past few days, he has publicly attacked at least four of those people — including two who are in supposedly independent positions.
On Friday, Trump attacked a recommendation from the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) that his counselor Kellyanne Conway be removed from office for her repeated violations of the Hatch Act.
“[T]hey are trying to take away her right of free speech,” he complained in a Fox News phone interview. “It’s not fair.”
His administration had released a statement earlier suggesting that the OSC’s findings “seem to be influenced by media pressure and liberal organizations” and urging that it “be mindful of its own mandate to act in a fair, impartial, non-political manner, and not misinterpret or weaponize the Hatch Act.”
The OSC, established in 1979 to be an independent agency to investigate and prosecute violations of the Hatch Act and other personnel practice prohibitions, is headed by Henry Kerner, a Trump appointee.
Trump also attacked Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell this week, accusing him of harming the economy. “Frankly, if we had a different person in the Federal Reserve that wouldn’t have raised interest rates so much, we would have been at least a point and a half higher,” he told ABC News in an interview, adding that he was “not happy with what he’s done.”
Trump was reminded that he had in fact nominated Powell to the independent monetary policy board, which he acknowledged, adding, “and I disagree with him entirely.”
Trump then defended his attempts to meddle with Powell and the central banking system, suggesting that “[I]n the old days, they used to speak to the head of the Federal Reserve often. And it was a part, very much a part of the administration from the standpoint as they’d talk and they’d really settle.”
Trump also attacked FBI Director Christopher Wray, another one of his own appointees, this week. Asked by ABC News about Wray’s suggestion that any campaign contacted by a foreign government or operative trying to influence an election should alert the bureau, Trump declared: “The FBI director is wrong.”
Last Friday, Trump also went after the leadership of NASA for “talking about going to the Moon [sic],” instead of “Mars (of which the Moon is a part).”
For all of the money we are spending, NASA should NOT be talking about going to the Moon – We did that 50 years ago. They should be focused on the much bigger things we are doing, including Mars (of which the Moon is a part), Defense and Science!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 7, 2019
NASA is run by Administrator Jim Bridenstine, whom Trump appointed. According to a report by The Verge, Bridenstine suggested Trump’s oddly phrased tweet was in response to comments made that day on Fox Business by NASA Chief Financial Officer Jeff DeWitt — another Trump appointee.
These attacks on the very people Trump chose, submitted to the Senate, and effectively vouched for, are nothing new.
In less than two and a half years, Trump has publicly attacked an array of his own appointees, including former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, former Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price, and FCC Chairman Ajit Pai.
UPDATE: This story has been updated to include Trump’s comments about Wray.