Around Christmas, the National Nuclear Security Administration, part of the Department of Energy, released it’s “Year in Review,” highlighting the agency’s accomplishments in maintaining the United States’ Nuclear Arsenal. Despite having a productive and commendable year, the Trump transition team is breaking with longstanding protocol and gutting the agency of Obama appointees.
From Ashley Feinberg of Gizmodo, who broke the story:
Trump has ordered Under Secretary for Nuclear Security Frank Klotz and his deputy, Madelyn Creedon—both Obama appointees—to leave their posts, even if it means no one is in charge of maintaining the country’s nuclear weapons. According to our Energy Department source, Trump’s team has yet to nominate anyone to succeed them….
“There are scores more appointees within the department,” our source told us. “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.”
While it is customary for appointed officials to prepare letters of resignation on the inauguration of a new administration, in agencies like the NNSA they are not accepted immediately, until replacements can be found and confirmed by the Senate. As Feinberg notes, the Obama administration left many Bush appointees in the agency, including in those top posts, until after his reelection.
This is because–even at the height of the Karl Rove-influenced Bush Administration–people don’t play politics with U.S. nukes. At least, until now.
Klotz, a retired Air Force Lt. General, said of the agency’s mission when the annual review was released:
The Nuclear Security Enterprise faces significant challenges. We must sustain an aging nuclear deterrent and modernize the infrastructure that supports it. We must protect nuclear and radiological materials around the world from those who want to do us harm. We must keep pace with national defense requirements, including the need for nuclear propulsion to support a modernized nuclear Navy.
However there does not seem to immediately be a plan to replace these key officials, leaving the NNSA leaderless at the start of a new administration for the first time in the agency’s history. Latest.com reached out to the transition team who had no comment. However, the team says that there is no truth to this report, which has become their boilerplate response.
On his daily call with reporters, Sean Spicer said that there were still a few cabinet positions the president-elect is “committed to getting right.” “I would expect to see additional cabinet-level aanouncements before we really delve into [these lower administrative positions],” the incoming White House Press Secretary said when asked about staffing lesser positions related to tax reform.
What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Featured image via screengrab