Trump threatens to fire executive-branch employees if re-elected in 2024

By on 16/03/2022 | Updated on 21/03/2022
Trump had a track record of seeking to undermine the Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act when in office. Official White House photo by Shealah Craighead via Flickr

Ex-US president Donald Trump has said he would make “every executive-branch employee fireable by the president” if re-elected in 2024.

Speaking before attendants at a rally in South Carolina last week, Trump announced his renewed bid for office, hinting that he would pass “critical reforms” to overturn rules that currently bar a president from using their powers to dismiss those stationed at the executive branch of government.

The executive branch is responsible for executing the nation’s laws. The president is the chief of the branch, which also includes the vice president and the rest of the cabinet, 15 executive departments and numerous federal agencies, boards, commissions and committees. Including members of the armed forces, the executive branch employs more than 4 million Americans.

“The deep state must and will be brought to heel,” Trump said.

Presidents have had the power to fire executive-branch employees at will in the past, but this was changed in 1883 under the Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act. The purpose of the act was to end the ‘spoils system’, which gave presidents the ability to fire their opponents and hire only those who supported them.

Read more: US federal agencies get 6.7% budget increase in $1.5 trillion spending bill

It is currently unlawful for federal employees to face demotion or dismissal based on political differences.

During the rally, Trump also took aim at the electoral system, repeating his claim that the last presidential election in which he ran against Joe Biden, the current US president, was “rigged”.

“I ran twice and won twice, and I did much better the second time than we did the first,” he said. “In 2024, we are going to take back that beautiful, beautiful White House.”

Repairs still in progress

Biden used his first days as president in January 2021 to roll back Trump’s civil service directives and reset presidential relations with federal employees. This included unwinding a string of executive orders issued by Trump that many saw as his attempt to politicise and undermine the civil service.

Biden signed an executive order vowing to protect the federal workforce, in which he stressed his intention to revoke ‘Schedule F’, a new employment category for civil servants created by Trump which would have weakened employment protections for those working in “confidential, policy-determining, policy-making or policy-advocating positions”.

Read more: Trump moves to extend hire-and-fire powers over civil service

“The creation of a new Schedule F …not only was unnecessary to the conditions of good administration, but also undermined the foundations of the civil service and its merit system principles, which were essential to the Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act of 1883’s repudiation of the spoils system,” the order stated.

“It is the policy of the United States to protect, empower, and rebuild the career federal workforce.”

As president, Trump had a track record of seeking to undermine the Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act. In 2020, Global Government Forum reported that the White House was moving to purge anti-Trump officials and all those deemed to be “actively working against” Trump’s political interests.

The story contained a report, published on 23 February that year, in which it was claimed the White House and its allies had compiled lists of disloyal government officials to oust, as well as trusted pro-Trump people to replace them.

Under Trump, several inspectors general (IG) – who act as independent government department watchdogs – were ousted, including Michael Atkinson, IG of the Intelligence Community and the State Department’s IG Steve Linick. These firings were made allegedly after they took actions that drew attention to Trump’s or his inner circle’s conduct or published reports that undermined comments he had made.

Read more: Biden tells agencies to help restore the integrity of federal watchdogs

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About Jack Aldane

Jack is a British journalist, cartoonist and podcaster. He graduated from Heythrop College London in 2009 with a BA in philosophy, before living and working in China for three years as a freelance reporter. After training in financial journalism at City University from 2013 to 2014, Jack worked at Bloomberg and Thomson Reuters before moving into editing magazines on global trade and development finance. Shortly after editing opinion writing for UnHerd, he joined the independent think tank ResPublica, where he led a media campaign to change the health and safety requirements around asbestos in UK public buildings. As host and producer of The Booking Club podcast – a conversation series featuring prominent authors and commentators at their favourite restaurants – Jack continues to engage today’s most distinguished thinkers on the biggest problems pertaining to ideology and power in the 21st century. He joined Global Government Forum as its Senior Staff Writer and Community Co-ordinator in 2021.

2 Comments

  1. Richard Gresser says:

    The comments from the great authoritarian are not a suprise in light of the recent remarks from Steven Kotin in an interview with the New Yorker magazine.

    Kotin observes…
    “This is the thing about authoritarian regimes: they’re terrible at everything. They can’t feed their people. They can’t provide security for their people. They can’t educate their people. But they only have to be good at one thing to survive. If they can deny political alternatives, if they can force all opposition into exile or prison, they can survive, no matter how incompetent or corrupt or terrible they are.”

    A permanent public service independent of the authoritarian whims of would be dictators is a stalwart of democracy

  2. DanceWeather says:

    I’ll never understand why anyone who aspires to be a CEO would come into office itching to fire its employees on a “loyalty” clause. If a large corporation did this, they’d rapidly be out of business as the talented employees would flee. Americans must do everything in their power to ensure that this phony never sets foot in our White House ever again.

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