Obama Administration versus Trump Administration
Obama Administration versus Trump Administration
The paper effectively outlines the efforts made by the administration of President Obama to thwart the new administration of President Trump. This entailed the imbedding of Obama loyalists throughout the US Federal Bureaucracy. The US Federal Bureaucracy is a very powerful organ within the American government which cannot be easily tampered or rather interfered with. The installation of loyalists within the Bureaucracy therefore was a clear attempt by the administration of President Obama to frustrate the transition of power and the effective running of the government by the incoming administration of President Trump. The assignment therefore seeks to analyze the numerous ways through which such an action frustrated and derailed some of the operations carried out by the administration of President Trump. This will look at individual appointments and the positions held by such individuals. This would help establish the power they hold and the multiple ways with which they can frustrate the new establishment.
The Presidential Election of 2017 is one that truly shocked the country and the whole world in general. This is not because of the intensity with which the campaigns were held between the two major candidates, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, or even the scandals that rocked each candidate in the months preceding the general election, but rather the result of the election itself. The win by Donald Trump, a businessman who had never before held a political office or been in the military, is one that was unexpected to say the least. This is because almost all the major poles had predicted a Hillary Clinton victory in the election even a few days before the elections. As of 7th November, a day before the polls, CBS News recorded an opinion poll showing that Hillary Clinton would win the elections by 45% as compared to Donald Trump’s 41%. Fox News on the other hand projected that Clinton would win by 48% of the vote compared to Trump’s 44%. A number of polls such as the one carried out by Monmouth even predicted that Hillary Clinton would win by a margin of 6% (Kelly, 2016).
On Election Day, Trump got 46.1% of the total votes cast in comparison to Clinton’s 48.2%. However, Trump was declared president against all odds after gathering 304 electoral votes compared to Clinton’s 227 as a result of the Electoral College system (Bor, 2017). Trump therefore became only the 4th President to win an election without attaining the popular vote (Bor, 2017). This victory caused major demonstrations to be exhibited across many cities within the United States which was a manifestation of the opposition that the President Elect was facing at the time. The next issue that followed therefore was the transition process between the new establishment and the old establishment led by two political foes, President Barrack Obama and the new President Elect Donald Trump. These were two individuals who had traded dirty linen in public during the campaign trail with Trump poking holes on the administration of Obama and Obama reiterating the unqualified traits of Trump when it comes to the presidency.
The paper will therefore focus on this rivalry in a bid to determine how it hindered the transition process by the new administration. Specifically, the paper will seek to determine the actions made by Obama’s administration to thwart certain efforts made by the Trump administration through appointments made to the US Federal Bureaucracy. To get a clearer understanding regarding this, an analysis would be made regarding the powers held by the Federal Bureaucracy in addition to the specific appointments made by the Obama administration in an effort to thwart the influence of the Trump Administration. This will be effected in a chronological and comprehensive manner.
The events leading up to the difficulty experienced by the Trump Administration in some of its efforts as a result of appointments made by Obama’s administration can be traced back to the lead up to the 2012 General Elections. It is during this period that Trump started his attacks on President Obama. The first was by claiming that Obama was ineligible to vie for a second term based on the allegation that he was not born in the United States. He even dared the then President to present his birth certificates (Bissell, 2016). Trump went further ahead to criticize the Obama administration on its ability to effectively handle a number of issues such as the Benghazi crisis and the email scandal by Hillary Clinton (Bissell, 2016).
The lead up to the 2016 general election was therefore quite tensed as there were high stakes and egos on the line. Donald Trump was facing scathing attacks from both Hillary Clinton and President Obama regarding his unfit nature of handling the US presidency. Trump on the other hand fought back by highlighting some of the major flaws of the Obama administration. At some point, Trump went further ahead claiming that President Obama was the worst president that the United States had ever had (Bissell, 2016). The back and forth between these two therefore not only made the elections intriguing but also made it a high staked one.
One of the major effects of this rivalry was the appointment of specific persons within the US Federal Bureaucracy in a bid to compromise the success of the Trump Presidency in the event that Trump won the election. Some of the appointments made by Obama’s administration were deeply imbedded in some of the most influential departments within the Federal Bureaucracy such as Department of Homeland Security, State and Defense just to mention a few. Some of the most prominent appointees immune to political interference made by the Obama administration include David Grannis, Tracey Renaud and Joanna Ruppel. In order to effectively understand the significance of the US Federal Bureaucracy, it is important to effectively define it and establish its powers.
The US Federal Bureaucracy
The bureaucracy basically refers to a specific government unit set aside and tasked with implementing or rather completing a set of goals as directed by the legislative body of the government. In the United States, the federal bureaucracy possesses a considerable amount of autonomy and power in comparison to bureaucracies in other countries. A major reason for this is the size of the budget that is allocated to it. In 2015, the bureaucracy receive $3.5 trillion as budget for the year (Rivera, 2016). This is an indication of the magnitude and importance of the US Federal Bureaucracy. It is important to note that quite a number of agencies within the bureaucracy do not have a clear line of authority. As a result, orders have to be taken from above making autonomy quite high within its system.
In the United States, the Federal Bureaucracy comprises for major types. These include government corporations, cabinet departments, regulatory agencies and independent executive agencies. The cabinet departments currently comprise 15 major departments. Some of these departments include the Departments of Homeland Security, Defense, State, Treasury and Education just to mention a few (Rivera, 2016). These departments are normally headed by a secretary who is directly appointed by the president. Therefore, the Obama Administration could not have jeopardized the Trump Administration using this section of the bureaucracy. It is however important to note that these departments are broad and are further subdivided into smaller departments. These smaller departments can however be influenced by previous administrations through specific appointments within strategic and key offices.
Independent executive agencies on the other hand refer to agencies that report directly report to the president. This have clearer and more focused tasks in comparison to the larger and broader cabinet departments. The fact that they are not subject to any regulatory authority make them highly independent and hard to influence. Examples of some of the most influential independent agencies in the US include Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) (Lim et al, 2017). These are tasked with collecting intelligence important t national interests and spearheading the development of technological innovation for the purpose of space exploration and research.
Characteristics of the Federal Bureaucracy
In order to gain a clearer understanding on the Federal Bureaucracy, it is important that some of its key characteristics are effectively analyzed. By looking at its characteristics, the severity of the Obama administration’s actions to imbed certain loyalties in a bid to thwart the efforts of the Trump administration will be effectively illuminated. These characteristics are effectively analyzed below.
- Clear Hierarchy
The Federal Bureaucracy has a clear and well defined hierarchy. This is to mean that it has a strong or rather firm chain of command. Each and every worker in the Bureaucracy has well defined roles in addition to a person that he or she reports to and receives orders from. Power normally emanates from the top and trickles down to the bottom in a diminishing manner (Souza, 2017). This characteristic therefore indicates the consequences that can be faced when an appointee holding a key position in the Bureaucracy interferes with major orders coming from above. The effects of this will be effectively addressed later in the paper.
The Bureaucracy has quite a number of departments, over 400 to be precise, that are highly specialized and have specific assigned tasks, duties and responsibilities (Souza, 2017). Some of these major departments include the departments of Defense, State, Urban Security and Health just to mention a few. This specialization may make it conducive for an outgoing administration to make strategic appointments within certain departments in order to jeopardize the activities of an incoming administration.
- Division of Labor
Jobs and specific tasks are normally broken down into smaller and well defined roles and responsibilities. Different people are therefore assigned specific roles based on their strengths, qualities and specifications (May et al, 2016). An imbedded appointment aimed at sabotaging the activities of the bureaucracy therefore can use this characteristics to its advantage.
- A Set of Formal Rules
The Bureaucracy has a set of standard operating procedures that have to be followed by all employees. This is customized for various departments and hierarchy levels within it. This standard of operating procedures has contributed to the massive rigidity within the bureaucracy 9May et al, 2016). This rigidity therefore is a factor that may lead to the sabotaging of operations from individuals with malicious intentions holding key positions.
Functions of the US Federal Bureaucracy
The Federal Bureaucracy is tasked with key functions in government making it arguably the most important body in the land. Its major duties or rather tasks in government are implementation, administration and regulation (White, 2017). When congress passes a law, various guidelines are provided on carrying out the new policies. Putting such guidelines into practice is the implementation process that the federal bureaucracy is tasked with. It is however important to note that most of these policy directives are normally not clear and therefore the bureaucracy is tasked with interpreting such policy directives.
During the implementation process of policies, the Federal Bureaucracy normally enjoys some levels of flexibility regarding the techniques it applies to implement such laws. This flexibility brings out the aspect of administrative powers and roles it possesses. Other major activities carried out by the bureaucracy such as the issuance of permits, collecting fees and giving tests also represent its main administrative duties. The Federal Bureaucracy also makes regulations in carrying out its tasks as assigned by the constitution. This is normally achieved as a result of an administrative process known as rule making (May et al, 2016). Such regulations however can be challenged in court and only implemented when their validity has been reinforced by the judiciary. The three major roles of the Bureaucracy have been effectively analyzed chronologically below.
- Implements Laws and Policies
As outlined in the introductory part of this section, one of the key duties or rather roles of the Federal Bureaucracy is the implementation of laws and policies. These policies emanate from congress hence have to be effectively interpreted and implemented. A good example of this implementation procedure is when a city council decides that all dog owners must license their pets and have them chipped. However, it emerges that the city council officials do not have the time to make sure that this stipulation is adhered to. It is therefore up to the city council workers and its bureaucratic members to listen to complaints and various issues that may arise, physically making sure that the law is indeed adhered to (White, 2017). It is through this example that the implementation duties of Federal Bureaucracy can be effectively interpreted.
- Administrative functions
Some of the major administrative functions of the Bureaucracy include collection of fees, licensing, issuing permits and conducting examinations just to mentions a few. This is to basically imply that it handles the paper work of the government when it comes to the day to day running and conduction of operations (Marvel and McGrath, 2016).
- Regulation of Various Government Activities
Though this has been touched on the introductory part of this section, it is important to get an in-depth analysis on the regulatory functions of the Federal Bureaucracy. Regulation is carried out in order to clarify on how various laws are to be applied on a daily basis (May et al, 2016). A good example is that the bureaucracy writes down regulations for all public schools in the country. This includes discipline methods, teacher training methods, curriculum standards and examination procedures just to mention a few.
The Presidency and the Bureaucracy
The presidency of the United States and the US Federal Bureaucracy are two bodies that are closely related and dependable on each other. It is important to note that none can effectively operate on its own. This is because while the President is the commander in chief and leader of the country, he cannot carry out or rather fulfill his national agenda and plans for the country without the US Federal Bureaucracy. This characteristic of the bureaucracy therefore make it an important organ in the US governance systems. It is as a result of this therefore that major appointments to the bureaucracy are normally intensely analyzed by political analysts and critics alike.
The relationship between the presidency and the bureaucracy is extremely important for the purposes of this study. In this case, the study aims to analyze or rather investigate some of the repercussions of various Obama appointees to the bureaucracy with the aim of thwarting some of the Trump administration’s efforts to fulfill their national agenda and manifesto. As earlier outline, the president makes major appointments within the bureaucracy such as cabinet secretaries and heads of certain departments such as the CIA. These are however normally subject to vetting from congress. It is however important to note that an outgoing administration can take advantage of this close relationship between the presidency and the bureaucracy in order to influence operations in the future long after handing over power.
While the president has the power to sack and appoint individuals holding certain key positions within the bureaucracy, he cannot influence certain positions within the bureaucracy. This is because a considerable number of employees within the bureaucracy are civil servants and as such their appointments are protected from external political interference by the constitution. From this therefore, it is clear that certain individuals could be imbedded by the Obama administration with the knowledge that the new administration would have no grounds to retrench them based on political factors.
It is also important to indicate that this is not the first time that an outgoing administration has intentionally attempted to influence or rather sabotage some of the operations of an incoming administration using specific appointments to the bureaucracy. A similar strategy was applied by the Clinton administration in 2000 in a bid to thwart some of the implementations of the Bush administration. In summation, it is clear from the above section that the close relationship between the presidency and the bureaucracy is a catalyst for the misuse of appointments n order to jeopardize certain operations.
Appointment of Imbedded Obama Loyalists into the US Bureaucracy
As clearly outlined by Peters, (2017), a story published by Politico, a newspaper outlet, published names of government executives who were suspected to be Obama loyalists. The paper claimed that the individual executives were hostile to the Trump agenda hence derailed the implementation process of a number of policies. The newspaper called for the immediate sacking of such executives by the president. Though there were a number of political appointees in the list, a considerable number of these were career civil servants which made the situation quite alarming. The departments that were affected according to Peters (2017) include the State Department which had 4 appointees, the Health and Human Services Department with one, and the Administration for Children and Families department also with one.
The mistakes that the civil servants in the various departments indicated above committed is supporting and implementing programs that were supported by President Obama. It is important to note that the Trump administration is pushing for policies and laws that are completely different to the Obama administration’s. However, it is not the duty of civil servants to conduct their activities as a result of political influence. They should carry out themselves in accordance to the law and agree to implementation processes based on the merits that are involved 9Leahy, 2017). This requirement is guided by the Foreign Service Act of 1980 which champions for a nonpartisan professional careers in the Foreign Service department in the Federal Bureaucracy 9Leahy, 2017).
One department that has been adversely affected by interference from supposed Obama loyalist is the Department of Homeland Security. According to Leahy, (2017), civil servants as well as political appointees in this department are pro Obama and therefore pose a major threat to the implementation of some of the policies initiated by the Trump administration. Leahy goes farther ahead to reiterate that the US Federal Bureaucracy in general has approximately 2.6 million career civil servants. Political appointments on the other hand only account for 4000 positions. It is important to note that whereas political appointees can be easily dismissed by the President, civil servants are more difficult to fire as certain technical procedures have to be applied.
Below is a list of certain imbedded Obama loyalists within the Federal Bureaucracy who pose a major threat to thwart the efforts of the Trump administration. Most of these are civil servants and their respective positions will also be effectively outlined and analyzed.
- David Grannis
David Grannis is a principal deputy within the homeland security. To be more specific, he is a principle deputy under Secretary for Intelligence and Analysis in the office of Intelligence and Analysis. It is important to note that Grannis is a lifelong democrat. However, due to the fact that he is a civil servant, he cannot be fired or rather sacked from his job by the president. Grannis has served in a number of capacities some of which include Staff Director of the US Senate Select Committee which he held from 2009 to 2014 and as the Minority Staff Director in 2015 (Leahy, 2017). Grannis has spent a larger portion of his career working with or rather for artisan democrats in congress. This fact therefore makes him partisan and more likely to lean towards thwarting some of the efforts made by the Trump administration based on his democratic background. It is also important to note that Grannis was appointed by the Obama administration.
- Tracey Renaud
Tracey Renaud is another career civil servant. She is the current Acting Director, Management Directorate, in the USCIS. According to Leahy (2017), almost each and every member of the top management team of the USCIS opposes the Trump Agenda. Renaud is a prominent member of this management team making her an anti-Trump civil servant in the Bureaucracy. Leahy goes further ahead to reiterate that any proposal made by Trump will be aggressively opposed by this management team lead by Renaud. Renaud has been working for more than 32 years in various capacities at the Department of Homeland Security. However, her position as acting director at the Management Directorate was facilitated during the tenure of the Obama administration. As a result, it is fair to conclude that this is one of the appointments that were made in order to thwart some of the agenda put forward by the Trump administration.
- Daniel Renaud
Daniel Renaud holds the office of Associate Director in the Field Operations Directorate within the USCIS. Renaud has had a considerably long career working for the federal government spanning back to 1988. Daniel Renaud also was appointed to this high position by the Obama administration. It is important to note that even though there are no public records stipulating the relationship between Tracey Renaud and Daniel Renaud, their similar names and parallel career origin, journeys and current positions do raise eye brows. The law does not prevent members of the same family from working within the same organization. However, their high positions and the fact that both were appointed to these positions by the Obama administration indeed is a cause for concern.
- Joanna Ruppel
This is the Acting Associate Director at the Refugee, Asylum, and International Operations Department within the USCIC at the Department of Homeland Security. The decisions made by this department in particular, that is the Refugee, Asylum and International Operations have been controversial ever since it was headed by Lori Scialabba during the 2000s (Strassel, 2017). One of the major criticisms received by this department or any of its members is the fact that through policy, it has made it impossible to deny asylum to people that are seemingly bad and unworthy for such favors. The fact that Ruppel attained this position during President Obama’s tenure is an indication that this could have been an appointment specifically made to thwart the agenda of the Trump administration based on the tainted image held by the department.
- Seth M. Stodder
Stodder is the Assistant Secretary for Boarder, Immigration and Trade Policy in the Policy Office at the Department of Homeland Security. It is important to note that unlike other civil servants, Stodder is an Obama appointee and can be directly fired by President Trump. Stodder was appointed in this position in March 2016 (Lynch, 2017). Stodder also has ties with the Bush administration based on previous appointments to the Bureaucracy. Boarder security is one of the most fundamental agendas for the Trump administration. This is evidenced by Trump’s reiteration and persistence of building a boarder wall across the Mexican border to the United States. Democrats have been vocal in their opposition to this policy over the previous months and also during the campaign trail. This opposition and difference in opinions therefore make this appointment very suspicious to say the least. This therefore may be a classic example of an appointment made by the Obama administration with the aim of frustrating the Trump administration in its bid to implement some of its proposed policies.
- Mary E. Giovagnoli
Mary is the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Boarder, Immigration and Trade Policy within the Department of Homeland Security. She joined the DHS in 2015 as a result of an appointment or rather reshuffling of the bureaucracy by the Obama administration (Lynch, 2017). She reports directly to Stodder. Mary has previously championed for immigration reform with the aim of easing the processes involved for one to enter into the United States. This is directly opposite to what is being championed for by the Trump Administration which is to tighten immigration laws. Her stance therefore, and her appointment by the Obama administration, is a clear indication that she poses a big threat of thwarting some of the efforts made by the Trump administration to tighten boarder security and regulations.
- Richard Cordray
Mr. Cordray is the Director of the Consumer Protection Bureau. Though his terms ends in 2018, President Trump can hasten his departure based on his close ties to the Obama administration. It is important to note that he attained this position during the Obama presidency and is strongly opposed to some of the policies put forward by the Trump administration. According to Leahy (2017), Richard Cordray would be the first to be fired as long as the president is in a firing mood. This is because most Republicans identified Cordray as a representative of the status quo during the campaign period. His position in the US Federal Bureaucracy therefore is a direct threat to the advancement of the Trump agenda.
- John Lansing
Lansing is the CEO of the Broadcasting Board of Governors. This is the largest public diplomacy program by the US government with and audience of over 278 million people. The broadcaster broadcasts in more than 100 different countries using 61 different languages (Leahy, 2017). Some of its major franchises include the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe. Instead of promoting classic American values and interests, the BBG has recently adopted or rather mirrored images from mainstream media outlets such as CNN and CBS. Most of these images criticize the president and his administration. It is therefore strange that a member of the Bureaucracy to openly embrace ideologies that openly criticize and at times mock the President of the day. Appointed in 2015 under the Obama Administration, Lansing may be an Obama loyalist within the bureaucracy acting in ways that portray the new administration negatively.
- Kenneth Tota
Tota is the Acting Director of the Office of Refugee Resettlement. He is a civil servant who attained this position during the tenure of President Obama. Tota holds a very powerful position which is Refugee resettlement. It is important to note that the Trump administration is strongly against the possibility of resettling refugees within the United States unlike the Obama administration before it. This therefore makes the position one to keep an eye on by the Trump administration as it may still champion or rather support some of the ideologies of the previous administration (Lee and Nicholas, 2017).
- Amanda Bennett
Amanda Bennett is the Director of Voice of America, a major broadcasting group within the US Federal Bureaucracy. It is important to note that Amanda is more aligned to Democratic ideologies as compared to Republican ones. This is evidenced by some of the topics aired and images portrayed by the Voice of America which is supposed to focus on classic American values and interests. The continuous opposition to some of President Trump’s policies by Voice of America under the guidance of Amanda Bennett is an indication that she may be an Obama loyalist within the US Federal Bureaucracy (Lee and Nicholas, 2017).
The above therefore are 10 examples of civil servants and presidential appointees who were handed over to the Trump administration by the Obama administration. These represent Obama loyalists imbedded within the Federal Bureaucracy with the aim of thwarting some of the efforts made by the Trump administration to advance their national agenda. It is important to note that most of these appointments have been made within key and strategic departments such as Homeland Security. The consequence of this is a derailment of the implementation of policies. Since the bureaucracy is extremely static and orders are strictly taken from above, it would be difficult for employees or rather civil servants in the above departments to oppose some of the orders given to them by their superiors. Therefore orders issued by the Trump administration may be directly defied or negatively influenced by the Obama loyalists named above.
The US Federal Bureaucracy is an important body for the implementation agenda for any administration. This therefore makes appointments within the bureaucracy important as individual members within it have to share the same ideologies as that of the government of the day. In order to clearly outline this, the paper has clearly defined the roles and the characteristics of the US Federal Bureaucracy and its relationship to the presidency. The structure of the bureaucracy have also been clearly outlined. The individual appointments made by the Obama administration have been stated and elaborated on. These include both political appointees and civil servants who were appointed into strategic departments with the aim of jeopardizing some of the activities of the Trump administration. From the above, it is therefore clear that the Obama administration made some moves through appointments within the bureaucracy with the aim of thwarting some of the efforts made by the Trump administration in furthering their national agenda.
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