Skip to content
Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter November 7, 2017

The Struggle to Govern in the Trump White House: Competing Power Centers, Personalities, and World Visions The First 7 Months

Shirley Anne Warshaw
From the journal The Forum

Abstract

Modern presidencies are characterized by the coherent White House staff that seamlessly move from the campaign into the White House to implement the new president’s agenda. Campaign staff built the policy agenda during the months-long if not years-long campaign, revised it to meet political demands at every juncture, and entered their White House offices with a clear view of how to achieve the campaign’s goals. In contrast, few members of the Trump White House staff moved from the campaign into the White House which soon became plagued by multiple power centers and limited agreement on the president’s broad agenda. In general, the Trump staff were unknown to each other and held quite different world visions, varying from extreme nationalists to globalists. This research examines the multiple power centers, the power voids, and the tools of power exercised in the White House. By the end of the first 7 months, the decision process had moved from groupthink to multiple advocacy to the coalition presidency.

Appendix 1: Trump White House Senior Staff

Assistants to the President (29), August 15, 2017.

Trump CampaignStephen Bannon1Chief Strategist and Senior Counselor
Kellyanne ConwaySenior Counselor
Stephen MillerSenior Advisor for Policy
Donald McGahnWhite House Counsel
Trump OrganizationHope HicksDirector of Strategic Communications
Daniel ScavinoDirector of Social Media
Jason GreenblattSpecial Representative for International Negotiations
Omarosa ManigaultDirector of Communications, Office of Public Liaison
Trump FamilyIvanka TrumpFirst Daughter
Jared KushnerSenior Advisor, Pres. Trump’s son-in-law
Recommended by FamilyChris LiddellStrategic Initiatives
Gary CohnNational Economic Council
Dina PowellNational Security Council
Reed CordishIntergovernmental and Technology Initiatives
Lindsay ReynoldsOffice of the First Lady and Former Chief of Staff to First Lady Bush
Vice President PenceMarc ShortLegislative Affairs
Nick AyersChief of Staff to Vice President
Reince Priebus2Chief of Staff
Sean Spicer3,4Former Press Secretary
Congressional StaffRick DearbornDeputy Chief of Staff for Legislative, Cabinet, and Intergovernmental Affairs
John DeStefanoPresidential Personnel
Robert PorterStaff Secretary
OtherGen. H.R. McMasterNational Security Council
Gen. Joseph Kellogg Jr.National Security Council
Kathleen McFarlandNational Security Council
George W. Bush White House
George W. Bush White House StaffJoe HaginDeputy Chief of Staff for Operations
Andrew BrembergDomestic Policy Council
George Sifakis5Director of the Office of Public Liaison
Thomas BossertNational Security Council

  1. 1Stephen Bannon was fired August 19, 2017.

  2. 2Reince Priebus was fired July 28, 2017.

  3. 3Anthony Scaramucci was appointed to the vacant position of Communications Director on July 21, 2017 and fired July 31, 2017.

  4. 4Sean Spicer was replaced by Sarah Huckabee Sanders on July 22, 2017.

  5. 5George Sifakis announced his resignation on August 18, 2017.

References

Acosta, Jim. 2016. “Trump Picks Priebus as White House Chief of Staff, Bannon as Top Advisor.” CNN.com, November 14.Search in Google Scholar

Campbell, Colin. 2015. “Donald Trump Trademarked a Ronald Reagan Slogan and Would Like to Stop Other Republicans from Using It.” Business Insider, May 12.Search in Google Scholar

Cook, Nancy, and Andrew Restuccia. 2017a. “Trump’s Trade Warrior Prowls the West Wing: Peter Navarro Has Pulled the President So Far Right On Trade That Some Aides Worry About a Global Trade War.” Politico, July 17.Search in Google Scholar

Cook, Nancy, and Andrew Restuccia. 2017b. “Inside the White House’s Policy Making Juggernaut.” Politico, July 5.Search in Google Scholar

Cuomo, Chris. 2017. “Interview with Anthony Scaramucci.” New Day, CNN, July 27.Search in Google Scholar

Davenport, Coral. 2017. “Perry Praises ‘Clean Coal’, but Trump Administration Policies Don’t Promote It.” New York Times, July 18.Search in Google Scholar

Davis, Julie Hirschfeld, and Helene Cooper. 2017. “Trump Says Transgender People Will Not be Allowed in the Military.” New York Times, July 26.Search in Google Scholar

Executive Office of the President, Fiscal Year 2018 Congressional Budget Submission.Search in Google Scholar

Glasser, Susan. 2017. “The Trump White House’s War Within.” Politico, April 24.Search in Google Scholar

Heclo, Hugh. 1977. A Government of Strangers. Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution.Search in Google Scholar

Heilbrunn, Jacob. 2017. “The Most Dangerous Man in Trump World: How Peter Navarro Could Lead Us Into A Global Depression – or Worse.” Politico, February 12.Search in Google Scholar

Holland. 2016. “Trump Campaign Criticizes Iran Nuclear Deal Anew After Reuters Report.” Reuters, September 2.Search in Google Scholar

Janis, Irving. 1982. Groupthink: Psychological Studies of Policy Decisions and Fiascoes. 2nd ed. Reading, PA: Cengage Learning.Search in Google Scholar

Karni, Annie. 2017a. “Ivanka Trump Adds a Chief of Staff.” Politico, April 21.Search in Google Scholar

Karni, Annie. 2017b. “The Untouchable Hope Hicks.” Politico, July 22.Search in Google Scholar

Karni, Annie. 2017c. “Trumps Internal White House Strategy Group Adds Staff.” Politico, January 27.Search in Google Scholar

Kruse, Michael. 2016. “The True Story of Donald Trump’s First Campaign Speech, in 1987.” Politico, February 5.Search in Google Scholar

McMaster, H. R., and Gary Cohn. 2017. “America First Doesn’t Mean America Alone.” WallStreet Journal, May 30.Search in Google Scholar

Navarro, Peter. 2011. Death By China: Confronting the Dragon – Global Call to Action. Pearson FT Press.Search in Google Scholar

Palmeri, Tara. 2017a. “Priebus Sidelined as Washington Outsiders’ Power Grows.” Politico, July 24.Search in Google Scholar

Palmeri, Tara. 2017b. “Trumps Aides Build Their Own Empires in the West Wing.” Politico, July 6.Search in Google Scholar

Pierce, Charles P. 2017. “The Executive Branch is About to be Reorganized into Oblivion.” Esquire, March 14.Search in Google Scholar

Reeves, Richard. 2001. President Nixon, Alone in the White House. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster.Search in Google Scholar

Roy, Jessica. 2016. “What is the alt-right? A Refresher Course on Steve Bannon’s Fringe Brand of Conservatism.” Los Angeles Times, November 14.Search in Google Scholar

Rucker, Philip, and Robert Costa. 2017. “Bannon Vows a Daily Fight to Deconstruct the Administrative State.” Washington Post, February 23.Search in Google Scholar

Rucker, Philip, and Ashley Parker. 2017. “New Communications Director Moves Toward Possible Staff Purge at White House.” Washington Post, July 24.Search in Google Scholar

Schmidt, Michael S. 2017. “In a Private Dinner, Trump Demanded Loyalty, Comey Demurred.” New York Times, May 11.Search in Google Scholar

Scola, Nancy. 2017. “What Jared’s Office Actually Does.” Politico, July 2.Search in Google Scholar

Shear, Michael D., and Maggie Haberman. 2017. “Trump Defends Initial Remarks on Charlottesville; Again Blames Both Sides.” New York Times, August 15.Search in Google Scholar

t’Hart, Paul, Erik K. Stern, and Bengt Sundelius, editors. 2010. Beyond Groupthink: Effects of Group Dynamics on Decision-Making. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press.Search in Google Scholar

Walcott. 2017. “Discontent Brews Among Trump’s Top Foreign Policy Team.” Reuters, July 25.Search in Google Scholar

Warshaw, Shirley Anne. 2013. The White House Staff. Thousand Oaks, CA: Congressional Quarterly Press.10.4135/9781452234335Search in Google Scholar

Warshaw, Shirley Anne. 2015. The Struggle to Govern in the Obama White House. San Francisco: American Political Science Association, September. www.washington.edu/federalrelations/2017/01/23/7059.Search in Google Scholar

Further Reading

Cook, Nancy, and Josh Dawsey. 2017. “Trump Loses Patience with his White House Counsel.” Politico, June 23.Search in Google Scholar

Costa, Robert, and Philip Rucker. 2017. “Even in North Korea crisis, Retired General John Kelly is an Apolitical Force in a White House Divided by Ideology.” Washington Post, August 9.Search in Google Scholar

Crowley, Michael. 2017. ‘What Worries Ben Rhodes About Trump.” Politico Magazine, January/February.Search in Google Scholar

Dawsey, Josh. 2017. “Inside the 224 hours that Broke Sean Spicer.” Politico, July 21.Search in Google Scholar

Dawsey, Josh, and Andrew Restuccia. 2017. “Cabinet Picks Clash with White House Over Hiring.” Politico, February 22.Search in Google Scholar

Dawsey, Josh, and Alex Isenstadt. 2017. “Trump Reviews Top White House Staff After Tumultuous Start.” Politico, February 12.Search in Google Scholar

Eilperin, Juliet, and Damian Paletta. 2017. “Trump Administration Cancels Hundreds of Obama-era Regulations.” Washington Post, July 20.Search in Google Scholar

George, Alexander. 1972. “The Case for Multiple Advocacy in Making Foreign Policy.” American Political Science Review 66: 751.10.1007/978-3-319-90772-7_9Search in Google Scholar

Green, Joshua. 2017. Devil’s Bargain. New York, NY: Penquin Press.Search in Google Scholar

Haberman, Maggie. 2017 “Trump May Turn to Scaramucci for Communications Post.” New York Times, July 20.Search in Google Scholar

Hallemann, Caroline. 2017. “Ivanka Trump’s Evolving Role in her Father’s White House.” Town and Country Magazine, May 19.Search in Google Scholar

Hess, Stephen. 1976. Organizing the Presidency. 2nd ed. Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution, 2002.Search in Google Scholar

Hult, Karen M. and Charles E. Walcott. 2004. Empowering the White House: Governance under Nixon, Ford, and Carter. Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas.Search in Google Scholar

Isenstadt, Alex, and Josh Dawsey. 2017. “Priebus Struggles to Control Fractious White House.” Politico, February 16.Search in Google Scholar

Jackson, David. 2017. “Bannon, Kushner Meet to Clear the Air, End the Rift.” USA Today, April 8.Search in Google Scholar

Kumar, Martha, and Terry Sullivan. 2003. White House World. College Station, TX: Texas A&M Press.Search in Google Scholar

Lizza, Ryan. 2017. “Steve Bannon and Reince Priebus’s War for the White House.” The New Yorker, February 3.Search in Google Scholar

Mark, Michelle. 2017. “Steve Bannon reportedly called Paul Ryan a ‘limp-d– motherf––’.” AOL.com, July 18.Search in Google Scholar

Merica, Dan. 2017. “Who’s Who in the Trump White House.” CNN.com, April 7.Search in Google Scholar

Miller, Zeke J. 2017. “Time Politics.” Time Magazine, March 31.Search in Google Scholar

Nussbaum, Matthew. 2017. “Trump Team Announces Additional White House Hires.” Politico, January 19.Search in Google Scholar

Paletta, Damian. 2017. “Within Trump’s Inner Circle, A Moderate Voice Captures the President’s Ear.” Washington Post, April 13.Search in Google Scholar

Parker, Ashley, and Philip Rucker. 2017. “Trump Taps Kushner to Lead a SWAT Team To Fix Government with Business Ideas.” March 27, (Office of the Press Secretary, The White House, “Presi dent Donald J. Trump Announces the White House Office of American Innovation (OAI)”, March 27, 2017).Search in Google Scholar

Patterson, Bradley H. 2009. To Serve the President. Brookings.Search in Google Scholar

Simendinger, Alexis. 2017. “Trump Plucks Pros for White House Staff.” RealClearPolitics, January 5.Search in Google Scholar

Published Online: 2017-11-7

©2017 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston

Scroll Up Arrow