Corporations Hesitant to Hire Former Trump Officials — And With Good Reason
Bloomberg: “Trump lawyers have been more difficult to place than those who served in previous administrations, particularly if they were closely connected to his most controversial policies…”
Accountable.US: “A company’s staff reflects its values. The previous administration threatened the very existence of our democracy, and any corporation who rewards this behavior should be held accountable”
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Former Trump officials are having an increasingly difficult time finding employment after leaving their posts serving the disgraced former president compared to previous administrations, Bloomberg reports. Given the Trump administration’s cruel and anti-democratic policies, including the family separation policy, the Muslim ban, and inciting the violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, some private corporations are steering clear of the potential reputational harm that could come with hiring former high-level administration officials.
“The Trump administration enacted cruel xenophobic policies and helped instigate the violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. A company’s staff reflects its values. The previous administration threatened the very existence of our democracy, and any corporation who rewards this behavior should be held accountable,” said Kyle Herrig, president of Accountable.US.
“After serving in an administration that shouted ‘fake news’ at everything, former Trump officials are now finding that in the real world, actions have consequences. Employers know that the public is paying attention, and they don’t want to be complicit in normalizing the Trump administration’s worst abuses,” said Austin Evers, executive director of American Oversight.
Earlier this year, Accountable.US and American Oversight launched the Campaign Against Corporate Complicity, which seeks to prevent normalizing the cruel and undemocratic actions and rhetoric of the Trump administration by ensuring that employers scrutinize former officials looking to sell their government experience as a qualification rather than a disgrace.
KEY POINTS FROM BLOOMBERG’S REPORTING:
Ken Cuccinelli, who did the No. 2 job at the Homeland Security Department under President Donald Trump, was looking at a corporate opportunity after he left the administration when the work was suddenly pulled.
“They just decided they didn’t want Trump people,” said Cuccinelli, who declined to name the company. “It was just flat out—you can call it Trump discrimination.”
The revolving door is as much of a Washington tradition as National Mall fireworks on the Fourth of July—people hold prominent government positions and then step into lucrative and often prestigious outside roles. More than 80% of top lawyers in Trump’s administration have landed somewhere since he left office, even if their roles are part time or not their first choice, according to an analysis by Bloomberg Law. (See complete list.)
But the Trump lawyers have been more difficult to place than those who served in previous administrations, particularly if they were closely connected to his most controversial policies or if they lacked the experience past alumni had, said Lauren Drake, a partner at search firm Macrae.
Several companies and law firms distanced themselves from Trump after the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol. Corporate law firm Crowell & Moring called for Trump’s removal from office and urged others to make the same demand. Law firms Morgan, Lewis & Bockius and Seyfarth Shaw dropped Trump and his businesses as clients.
“I don’t think anyone coming out of the George W. Bush administration was told, ‘We can’t hire this person,’” Cuccinelli said. “I’m sure Jan. 6 made it that much worse than it ever would have been.”
Attorney General William Barr, Jeffrey Rosen—who ran the Justice Department in an acting capacity after Barr left—U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, and White House counsel Pat Cipollone are among those who have yet to resurface with full-time jobs.
Bloomberg Law analyzed what’s happened with 73 lawyers who filled the secretary, deputy secretary or general counsel roles at Cabinet-level agencies at any point during the Trump administration—or the equivalent of those three positions in agencies that don’t use those job titles. The analysis excluded holdovers from the Obama administration.
Nearly two-thirds of the lawyers that landed somewhere took private sector positions. The lawyers’ gigs range from lucrative positions at companies such as Facebook Inc. and Big Law firms like Jones Day to boutique firms and little-known companies.
Reed D. Rubinstein, who had acting general counsel authority under Trump at the Education Department, blames the barriers on “the extent to which Big Law has been captured by the political left.” He’s now senior litigation counsel with the New Civil Liberties Alliance, a non-profit that targets government administrative actions the group considers unconstitutional.
Dan Coats, the former director of national intelligence under Trump, is among three top Cabinet-level Trump lawyers who joined King & Spalding—the second most of any firm behind Jones Day, who hired four.
“Our firm is open to hire on merit basis, not just on political,” said Coats, who also had a previous stint at King & Spalding before returning to the Senate.
Rod Rosenstein, the former deputy attorney general, also joined King & Spalding.
None of the three lawyers who were at Kirkland & Ellis before joining the administration—including Barr and Rosen—have returned to the firm. Jones Day, the firm most closely tied to the administration, has welcomed back White House counsel Don McGahn and Solicitor Noel Francisco along with others from the list.
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