Donald Trump doesn’t officially take office until January 20th, but that isn’t stopping him from dismissing the people in charge of maintaining America’s nuclear arsenal.
According to an official in the Department of Energy, Trump has instructed the head of the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and his deputy to disband on the very day he’s sworn in.
While this is usually the case for non-important positions, the difference is, the NNSA has always had an appointee until a replacement was found. That’s because securing our nation’s nuclear weapons and their oversight is generally considered to be of supreme importance. So – for the first time in our history – no one will be in charge of the department. Their sole job is to make sure America’s nuclear weapons are working properly – that’s a pretty important job and you don’t leave it unfilled.
So far, Trump has yet to announce who will be filling their roles and considering it takes a confirmation of the Senate to fill them, the positions may not be filled for months.
As the Department of Energy official put it: “It’s a shocking disregard for process and continuity of government.”
There are scores more appointees within the department,” the source told Gizmodo. “Secretarial and administration appointments that don’t require Senate confirmation, mostly performing policy, liaison, and strategic advisory capacities in support of the agency they’re at. They serve at the will of the head of their agency. Those people are, theoretically, also out on inauguration day unless otherwise directed, which hasn’t happened yet to my knowledge.” The source later added, “I’m more and more coming around to the idea that we’re so very very fucked.”
To put this in context – President Bush’s appointee remained in charge of the position until President Obama’s second term. But – Trump is having none of that.
There’s another consequence to removing leadership before having a new one come on board – despite the obvious. The beginning of a new Congress and administration is when political jockeying takes place for recommendations for the upcoming budget. Without a head of the department, the NNSA (a $12 billion-a-year agency) will have no one to orchestrate that effort.
According to Bob Rosner, the Co-Chair of the Science and Security Board of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, this will definitely impact the agency.
When it comes to the budget negotiations, the fact is that without political leadership they will be struggling for money,” Rosner told Gizmodo. “If [Trump] says he wants to invest heavily in the nuclear weapons program, and they don’t have anyone to defend the program, that’s going to be a pretty big problem for him.”
This could be intentional or unintentional – and Trump’s transition team might scramble to undo any harm they didn’t intend to make. That is if the media outrage is intense enough. In either case, it’s negligent. Their main position, it seems, is to just get rid of all of President Obama’s political appointees – as they did with foreign ambassadors and envoys around the world, as well. Yes – America will not have a lot of key ambassadors until replacements are found, too. That’s another precedent that Trump is setting – and it, too, is unheard of.
Featured image via Getty Images
Article republished from Groopspeak with permission.