13:15 GMT +321 October 2019
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    U.S. President Donald Trump participates in a Cabinet meeting, where he discussed immigration policy at the White House in Washington, U.S., June 20, 2018

    ‘Problem Children’: Widespread Trump Cabinet Defections Likely After Midterms

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    Interviews with half a dozen current and former Trump officials and Republicans with ties to the White House revealed that at least six of US President Donald Trump’s cabinet officials may depart after next month’s midterm elections, Politico reported Sunday.

    Earlier this month, Trump announced that US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley would leave her post at the end of 2018. The US president expressed hope that Haley would return to his administration in a different role, while Haley thanked the president for allowing her the "honor of a lifetime" to serve as UN ambassador. 

    Trump is expected to dismiss US Attorney General Jeff Sessions, particularly as multiple reports have surfaced of Sessions having drawn Trump's ire by recusing himself from the Mueller probe in March 2017.

    According to an August report by the Washington Post, Trump's attorneys said Sessions' job was safe for the time being as they had warned POTUS not to fire the Attorney General while Special Counsel Robert Mueller continues his investigation into alleged collusion between members of the Trump campaign and the Russian government.

    After the November midterm elections, however, the president is likely to stir things up again, Senate Republicans fear. A Republican close to the White House revealed to Politico that Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Texas), a former US attorney and member of the House Judiciary Committee, may replace Sessions.

    Other members who are thought to be likely to resign from Trump's cabinet include Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, according to White House advisers and administration sources, Politico reported Sunday.

    "The president is looking to get better performers — all of these decisions are being made in the context of the reelection campaign," one Republican with ties to the White House told Politico. "Trump wants the strongest possible A-team going into 2020."

    The extraordinary turnover of officials in the Trump administration — many of them at the highest levels of government — is unprecedented.

    During Trump's 21 months in office, a Secretary of State, an Environmental Protection Agency administrator, a secretary of Health and Human Services, a secretary of Veterans Affairs, and a chief of staff have departed. CIA Director Mike Pompeo and former DHS Secretary John Kelly changed jobs internally, with Pompeo becoming Secretary of State and Kelly taking on the White House chief of staff role.

    In September, the New York Times reported that Trump was considering replacing Secretary of Defense James Mattis after the midterm election with someone more openly loyal to his foreign and security policy pronouncements.

    Trump and Mattis have reportedly been at odds over NATO, the issue of military drills with South Korea and even effectiveness assessments of the president's withdrawal from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and the reinstatement of sanctions against Tehran.

    According to two Republicans close to the White House, Mattis is expected to volunteer his resignation, which will be accepted.

    Zinke is expected to either change agencies or leave the administration entirely, following accusations that he used taxpayer money to travel on private planes.

    There has also been a great deal of speculation among White House staff as to whether Trump will oust Ross. During Oval Office meetings, Trump has said that the Commerce secretary is "past his prime" and is "not a killer."

    Trump has also expressed disapproval of Nielson for not managing the number of undocumented immigrants crossing the US border.

    According to a cabinet tracker by the Brookings Institution, Trump's team has seen more turnover in his first two years in office than Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama combined, for the same time frame. 

    "Getting people vetted and confirmed is no easy thing, even if the Republicans keep their majority in the Senate," Chris Lu, White House Cabinet secretary said, during Obama's first term. "It could be well into 2019 before the president has a full Cabinet that is up to speed and carrying out his agenda."

    "A lot of his problem children are gone, and that is a relief," one former senior administration official told Politico on Sunday, referring to former Trump cabinet members, including the globe-trotting political pundit Steve Bannon, according to Politico.

    According to insiders, however, the high turnover rate will make it difficult for Trump to win over new — and most importantly loyal — talent.


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    midterm elections, Jeff Sessions, Donald Trump, United States
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