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December 28, 2018

House Democrats are going on a hiring spree as they prepare to use their new legislative majority to investigate President Trump.

CNN reports that Democrats, who have spent months planning for these investigations, are "expected to double the number of their staffers." They're especially interested in legal experts and those with investigative experience, including candidates with a background in areas like criminal law and money laundering.

Although Democrats can't actually hire anyone until they officially take control of the House, the job search for new staffers apparently started as soon as the day after the midterm elections in November, CNN reports. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) said that they're hearing from people "just wanting to be part of this historic moment," while Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said, "We're being deluged with resumes."

Clearly, they'll need a lot of help, as various Democratic committees, which will now have subpoena power, are expected to probe everything from Trump's tax returns to the Trump Organization to the recent death of a migrant in U.S. custody. There are going to be so many investigations, in fact, that Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) is expected to hold weekly meetings with committee chairs to "discuss priorities."

When Democrats officially take the majority on Jan. 3, it will be off to the races, with one source saying it will be "a little bit of drinking out of a fire hose in the beginning." Brendan Morrow

December 10, 2018

With Nick Ayers unexpectedly taking himself out of the running to be President Trump's next chief of staff, Trump "finds himself in the unaccustomed position of having no obvious second option," The New York Times reports. Several names are being floated to replace Chief of Staff John Kelly, including White House budget chief Mick Mulvaney, Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), and former Trump campaign official David Bossie.

But unusually, it's not clear who's even interested in the job. Meadows, a far-right Trump loyalist, wants the position but Trump isn't sure, Politico reports, and Mnuchin "isn't eager to take the post." Mulvaney also is "not interested in becoming chief of staff," The Associated Press reports, and The Washington Post says the White House is reluctant to move Lighthizer because of his key role in trade negotiations with China.

White House chief of staff has traditionally been a stepping stone to greater power, but Trump's first two chiefs of staff, "Kelly and Reince Priebus before him, have left as diminished and arguably humiliated figures, unable to control the wild chaos of this president's White House," Politico notes. "Priebus was marginalized and mocked before he was abandoned on an airport tarmac," and "Trump had recently stopped speaking to Kelly," who "wasn't even allowed to announce his own resignation despite a reported agreement with Trump that he could do so."

"You really do have to wonder why anybody would want to be Donald Trump's White House chief of staff given that so far it's been mission impossible," Chris Whipple, the author of a history of White House chiefs of staff, tells Politico. And Kelly's successor will also have to deal with a tough re-election campaign, an incoming Democratic House majoriy, and a special counsel investigation that is circling ever closer to the White House. Peter Weber

November 27, 2018

Republicans close to the Trump administration told Politico on Monday that the White House counsel's office is woefully understaffed, and once Democrats take control of the House, the few people working there will have a difficult time dealing with subpoenas for documents.

There are about 25 lawyers now working in the office, down from a high of 35 and well below the 40 needed to deal with investigation requests, Politico reports. Democrats are expected to launch investigations into everything from President Trump's business dealings to his tax returns, and a former White House official said they "don't think anyone who is paying attention" believes the office is "prepared for a Democratic takeover."

Since former White House Counsel Don McGahn left in October, the office hasn't had a permanent leader, and Annie Donaldson, the deputy counsel, is expected to leave within a few weeks, Republicans with knowledge of the matter told Politico. McGahn's replacement, former Justice Department official Pat Cipollone, is still undergoing a background check. Catherine Garcia

February 9, 2017

When Trump campaign spokesman Jason Miller abruptly bowed out of being President Trump's White House communications director on Christmas Eve, Trump gave the job to Sean Spicer, adding the role to his job as press secretary. That was apparently a temporary promotion. White House chief of staff Reince Priebus has been actively trying to hire a communications director for weeks, but "his overtures to several Republican communications professionals have been met with disinterest," Politico's Eliana Johnson reports, citing "a half-dozen sources with knowledge of the situation."

At least two people have turned down the job — "a position normally coveted by Washington political operatives," Johnson notes — according to one source. "There is a list of candidates, but I can see why people aren't interested," a senior administration official tells Politico. "It's a tough job."

Steve Schmidt, John McCain's presidential campaign manager and an aide in George W. Bush's White House, explains the particular challenges in Trump's: "The communications director job in the White House has always functioned as the strategic planning job, understanding the necessity of building and maintaining public approval for the president's policies, and when you look at the complete and total chaos emanating from the White House on a number of issues, it's clear they have no strategic planning function."

Crafting a political message is also made difficult by a president who prefers to set his own message via Twitter, and not always with a clear strategy in mind. Chief strategist Stephen Bannon also has sent an aide, Julia Hahn, to try and get stories in print, creating a sort of alternative press office, Politico says. The White House did not respond to Johnson's request for comment. You can read more at Politico. Peter Weber

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