According to several new reports from sources as varied as Vanity Fair and Fox News, President Trump may have only been warming up his “cobra strike” hand with the firing of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Insiders say the president is unhappy with several of his Cabinet members and may be looking to make some significant changes by the end of the week.
Potentially, this next round of firings could include National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin, and Chief of Staff John Kelly. There has even been some limited talk about getting rid of Javanka, which would perhaps be the most surprising move of all.
If the changes happen as some in TrumpWorld expect, former U.S. ambassador to the UN John Bolton would take McMaster’s spot, Rick Perry would move from the Energy Department to the VA, and current Budget Director Mick Mulvaney would take over for Kelly in the White House.
In what may have been a subtle hint as to what’s coming, Trump himself said Tuesday that he was in a period of transition. “I’ve gotten to know a lot of people very well over the last year,” he said, “and I’m really at a point where we’re getting very close to having the Cabinet and other things that I want.”
The Vanity Fair report suggested that Attorney General Jeff Sessions could also be on the chopping block, to be replaced by current EPA head Scott Pruitt. While that move would certainly roil the political waters in Washington (EGAD, he’s tryin’ to fire Robert Mueller!), it would not be entirely unexpected. Trump has been publicly unhappy with Sessions since the moment he recused himself from the Russia investigation, criticizing him openly in a way he has done with no other member of the Cabinet. In a sense, it’s a miracle that Sessions has hung on as long as he has.
Of all the rumored firings, though, Shulkin is the one easiest to believe. His leadership of the VA came under brutal scrutiny last week when an internal report accused him of violating ethics rules in a trip to Europe last year. That, together with a general failure to clean up the department despite being given a precise mandate to do so, could foretell the imminent departure of the Secretary. It is unclear, however, whether or not Perry is interested in the job. He told reporters this week that he’s happy at the Energy Department and will be there “for the foreseeable future.”
With more than a year under his belt in Washington at this point, the Donald Trump of 2018 has a much better idea of what he needs in a Cabinet than the Trump of late 2016. The media will continue to report this level of turnover as a sign of unprecedented “chaos,” but we see it as Trump slowly but surely coming into his own as President of the United States.