Transition Tales: Draining the Swamp Won't Be as Easy as You Think
Twice in thirty-five years, Republicans have taken executive power from Democrats. Twice, Democrats enjoyed great success is keeping the ministerial state firmly in the camp of the ideological left.
Some gains were made in reining in the power of bureaucrats -- particularly by Ronald Reagan in 1980, but less so by George Bush in 2000. Team Trump can learn from the mistakes of the past. Draining the swamp can't happen by flicking a switch. But some lessons from history can help.
Here are three smart ways to help #DrainTheSwamp.
Consider what happened at the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice in 2000 as a case study. The Civil Rights Division is the most powerful and radical part of the most powerful and radical federal agency. In 2000, Clinton political appointees at the Justice Department did all they could in the two months between the election and the inauguration to sabotage any incoming agenda of the Bush administration.
These problems will manifest across the federal government, but this agency was the engine of the most radical Obama policies, so it deserves special attention.
1. Reverse the Coming Hiring Spree of Leftists and Burrowed-In Political Hacks
When President Bush left office, there was a single so-called "career" deputy assistant attorney general in the Civil Rights Division. This was a position purportedly designed to provide expertise across different administrations. In practice, it became a perch for leftist lawyers to interfere with and sabotage Republican attorneys general in future administrations. During the Obama administration, that single "career" position has been increased, I am told by Division staff, to three permanent "career" front-office staff.
But that's not all. Team Trump cannot allow the current Obama political leadership in the Justice Department, and particularly the Civil Rights Division, to go on a hiring spree, packing the Division with militant liberals before handing over the keys to Trump. This was exactly what the Clinton Justice Department did from November 2000 through January 2001.
Literally dozens of partisan leftists joined the Division’s bureaucratic ranks during those months, as if a blue-light special on federal employment was being conducted at the ACLU. New George W. Bush appointees were caught completely off guard when they arrived, and their naïveté allowed extraordinary mischief to occur.
Indeed, their failure to take prompt remedial action against these abuses greatly exacerbated the seemingly never-ending political battles that the Civil Rights Division bureaucrats waged with the new political leadership in the ensuing years.
Civil Rights Division lawyers were also responsible for sabotaging the federal judicial nomination of Senator Jeff Sessions before he became a senator. Some of those responsible for sabotaging Sessions, and their progeny and allies, are still in the Division in senior executive service and career lawyer positions.
Personnel is policy.
As Hans von Spakovsky and I demonstrated emphatically in our Every Single One series at PJ Media, the Obama Civil Rights Division has strategically filled the civil service ranks from top to bottom with some of the most strident ideologues in Washington.
For eight years, these individuals have served as loyal foot soldiers for the Left, standing ready to do the bidding of liberal advocacy organizations, and carrying out Eric Holder’s (and now Loretta Lynch’s) deeply partisan agenda. Meanwhile, the resumes we received in response to our public records requests revealed that not a single conservative joined the Division during those eight years.
It will be next to impossible to dislodge most of these attorneys, because they have vested into full civil service protections.
So, a reduction in force passed by Congress would be needed.
The Trump team must not repeat the mistakes from 2000. The Department of Justice -- and all federal agencies -- must be told now: No hiring until after the inauguration. Anyone who starts should be let go after January 20.