Government employees are growing increasingly willing to criticize or defy the White House and President Trump’s top appointees.
A handful of current and former career staffers in the Interior Department and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have openly shredded their superiors within the last several weeks, continuing a trend that has developed throughout the government over the course of Trump’s tenure in the Oval Office.
The growing opposition in the executive branch comes as the White House’s legislative agenda has stalled in Congress and Trump turns to his Cabinet agencies to change course in several policy areas. It also is emanating from career staffers or political holdovers whose resistance to Trump has, at times, been rooted in deep opposition to the president’s agenda.
“From our point of view, it’s kind of obvious,” said Jeff Ruch, the executive director of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), when asked about staffers’ growing pushback.
“You have Donald Trump, who ran and said he would drain the swamp, meaning them.”
“I think career staff don’t typically speak out publicly unless they feel like there are serious issues and problems going on within the agency,” said Liz Purchia, a former Obama administration EPA spokeswoman.
[FLASHBACK: General McChrystal’s bad-mouthing of Obama’s national security team is insubordination. Foreign Affairs editor James Hoge on why he must be fired—and how Obama is in danger of becoming a wuss.]