WaPo: WH office that vets appointees inexperienced, understaffed
The White House office charged with vetting political appointees is understaffed, inexperienced, has been a source of jobs for friends and family and employs aides who got their positions because of work on the Trump campaign despite their questionable backgrounds, The Washington Post reported Friday.
Despite the need to fill the administration’s posts, the Office of Presidential Personnel, which recruits candidates to serve the President in the executive branch and oversees the selection of presidential appointments, also became a social hub, the Post reported, citing current and former White House officials.
White House officials confirmed to the newspaper that PPO leaders held happy hours in their offices that included beer, wine and snacks for office employees and White House liaisons in federal agencies. Officials in the office also played a drinking game called “Icing” to celebrate the deputy director’s 30th birthday, the Post reported. “Icing involves hiding a bottle of Smirnoff Ice, a flavored malt liquor, and demanding that the person who discovers it, in this case the deputy director, guzzle it,” the newspaper reported.
The White House confirmed to the Post that office officials played the drinking game, but said it and the happy hours are not unique to that office and allow staff to network and let off steam.
The revelations about the office come as the administration has struggled to fill positions and has suffered from high turnover. White House officials acknowledged to the Post that “some PPO staff got their jobs in part as thanks for working on the Trump campaign,” the newspaper reported. The Post added that some of those aides had backgrounds that were unusual for their jobs.
One former Trump campaign aide gained employment there despite having her driver’s license suspended for driving while intoxicated in 2005, the Post reported, citing police records, and an arrest for intoxicated driving in 2007, for which she was found guilty of a misdemeanor.
The aide did not respond to the Post’s request for interviews. A White House official speaking anonymously told the newspaper that the aide had proven herself to be competent during the Trump campaign, adding, “We do feel confident in her ability.”
The Post also identified another office aide, Max Miller as a former Trump campaign worker. Citing police records, the Post reports that Miller was charged with assault and resisting arrest in 2007 following an altercation with another man, a case that was later dismissed.
“Growing up, everyone makes mistakes,” Miller told the Post. “Who I was in the past is not who I am now.”
The same White House official told the Post that Miller’s background serving in the Marine Corps Reserve “speaks volumes to his willingness to serve his country.”
CNN has not independently confirmed the Post’s reporting.
Deputy White House press secretary Raj Shah defended the office, telling the Post, “despite historic obstruction from Democrats in Congress, the Presidential Personnel Office is filling the administration with the best and brightest appointees who share the President’s vision for the country.”
Shah added, “Staff work tirelessly and have experience consistent with the practice of previous administrations.”