At least half a dozen Cabinet officials have either departed or are considered on the ropes following the midterm elections. For a president who has already shed or shuffled nine Cabinet officials, that would make for the highest turnover rate in recent history. Already in the last week, Attorney General Jeff Sessions was asked to resign and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen is expected to follow at some point. Here’s the latest on where Trump’s agency heads stand.
Appointed: Feb. 9, 2017
Departure: Nov. 7, 2018
Replaced by Matthew Whitaker
Sessions resigned at Trump’s request the day after the midterm elections, ending a tumultuous tenure that saw the president regularly insult his attorney general over his decision to recuse himself from overseeing special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe. In Sessions’ place, Trump appointed the ousted DOJ head’s chief of staff, Matthew Whitaker, as acting attorney general. Since Whitaker has not recused himself from the Mueller investigation, he is now the special counsel’s new boss, despite concerns over critical comments he has made on cable news questioning the probe’s scope.
Read more: Sessions Ousted
Appointed: Feb. 17, 2017
Departure: July 6, 2018
Replaced by Andrew Wheeler
Trump grew tired of a torrent of negative stories about Pruitt’s misconduct, including spending over $105,000 on first-class flights, a $43,000 phone booth and spending millions of dollars on a round-the-clock, 20-person security detail. “Scott is a terrific guy,” Trump told reporters. “And he came to me and he said, ‘I have such great confidence in the administration. I don’t want to be a distraction.’ And I think Scott felt that he was a distraction.” A person close to the White House, however, said getting Pruitt out was one of chief of staff John Kelly’s top priorities.
Read more: How Scott Pruitt blew it
Appointed: Feb. 14, 2017
Departure: March 28, 2018
Secretary of Veteran Affairs
Replaced by Robert Wilkie
The White House said Shulkin resigned, but Shulkin’s public statements made it clear he was forced out. Trump initially nominated the presidential physician, Dr. Ronny Jackson, to replace Shulkin, before pulling the nomination over Jackson’s alleged misconduct including drinking on the job and improperly prescribing medication.
Appointed: Jan. 27, 2017
Departure: End of 2018
Ambassador to the United Nations
Republicans and the U.N. community were shocked when Haley announced her plans to quit. In her resignation letter, Haley warded off rumors that she was setting herself up to run against Trump in 2020, saying she would “surely not be a candidate for any office in 2020.” Former Fox News host and current State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert is seen as a leading candidate to replace Haley.
Appointed: Jan. 20, 2017
Departure: July 31, 2017
Chief of Staff
Priebus left after struggling for months to bring a sense of order to the West Wing and advance Trump’s legislative agenda. Then-Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly moved over to replace him, hopeful that he could better control people’s access to the president. During his time as chief of staff, aides said Priebus failed to form a strong bond with the president, and found it difficult to keep the White House focused.
Read more: Inside the end of the Priebus era
Appointed: January 20, 2017
Departure: July 31, 2017
Secretary of Homeland Security, now White House Chief of Staff
Replaced by Kirstjen Nielsen
Kelly’s departure has long been rumored, but in recent days, The Washington Post and Wall Street Journal both reported that Kelly’s departure may again be imminent. Observers noted that at the White House’s election night gathering, Kelly steered clear of the president and his family. Kelly’s fate is widely seen as tied to that of Nielsen at DHS, as he pushed the president to appoint her.
Read more: How John Kelly became ‘chief in name only’
Appointed: January 2017
Departure: April 26, 2018
CIA Director, now Secretary of State
Replaced by Gina Haspel
Pompeo quickly earned Trump’s trust as CIA director, often giving the president his morning intelligence briefing and aggressively defending him in public. Because of the bond the two men formed, Trump tapped Pompeo to serve as his secretary of State after firing Rex Tillerson.
Read more: No ‘deep state’ at State or CIA
Appointed: February 10, 2017
Departure: September 29, 2017
Secretary of Health and Human Services
Replaced by Alex Azar
Price resigned in the face of multiple federal inquiries and growing criticism of his use of private and government planes for travel, at a cost to taxpayers of more than $1 million. His actions caused him to run afoul of Trump in part because they seemed to symbolize everything the president had inveighed against on the campaign trail by vowing to “drain the swamp.” Price was the first Cabinet secretary to step down.
Appointed: Feb. 28, 2017
Secretary of Commerce
Administration officials and close White House advisers say the 80-year-old Ross could be out of a job as soon as January or as late as mid-2019. Ross, who has long been rumored to be on thin ice with Trump, denies it. “I’ll serve as long as the president wants and I have no indication to the contrary,” he told an audience at a Yahoo Finance event on Nov. 13.
Read more: Wilbur Ross leaving? Mulvaney is waiting.
Appointed: March 1, 2017
Secretary of the Interior
People close to Zinke said he has made it known he plans to resign his position by the end of the year, pressured by concerns over investigations into possible ethics violations. Zinke has apparently been exploring potential roles with Fox News, the energy industry and other businesses, according to people knowledgeable about the discussions.
Read more: Zinke prepares to leave Trump’s Cabinet
Appointed: Dec. 6, 2017
Secretary of Homeland Security
According to a senior White House official, the president has been itching to fire Nielsen for months over what he views as her weak leadership on border security, along with other enforcement policies that he has sought to implement. Trump has told aides he wants an agency chief who will fervently defend his hard-line approach to illegal immigration, particularly with an incoming House Democratic majority that has promised to thwart his agenda at every turn.
All photos by the Associated Press | Development by Beatrice Jin