In an interview with Politico, Key Coles James, president of the Heritage Foundation, made a striking claim. She’d been part of the transition team for President Trump and had been expecting a role within the administration. But it never materialized, and James thinks she knows why: Omarosa Manigault Newman.
James says that Manigault Newman approached Washington as she did “The Apprentice,” looking to get any challengers out of the way. When Manigault Newman was booted from the West Wing? The White House quickly reached out.
What’s weird about this story isn’t that Manigault Newman would treat her time within the administration like a reality show. She was upfront about that. What’s weird is that James didn’t end up at the White House, given how many people from the campaign and from Heritage did end up working for Trump.
Last week, ProPublica released a sweeping set of data looking at the work backgrounds of Trump administration appointees as revealed by their federal financial filings. It encompasses nearly 2,500 individuals, offering an extensive amount of detail on each.
We were curious how often individual employers showed up in the backgrounds of Trump appointees, so we asked ProPublica to share its data. Graciously, it did. And using that data, we created a visualization of the network of businesses, lobbying firms, universities and nonprofits of which Trump appointees were veterans.
The map — including only employers with at least two employees in one department in the administration and government agencies that have at least two appointees from one employer — looks like this.
The red dots are administration departments and agencies. The blue dots are employers. They aren’t all labeled (because it would be a bit crowded), so we made an interactive version as well.
We can isolate specific employers. For example, here’s Heritage.
There are 19 appointees that have Heritage on their resumes. (James isn’t one of them, not only because of Manigault Newman, but also because she only started at the Heritage Foundation in January of this year.) Two ended up at the White House.
The lines connecting the dots are scaled to the number of employees that have one employer on their background and ended up at a particular administration department. The most overlap is between Trump’s campaign and transition teams and the White House.
Forty former Trump for America employees — transition team members — ended up in the West Wing. Another 16 from Donald J. Trump for President — the campaign — did as well.
A clutch of other White House staffers came from the Republican National Committee. Much of this data is from the first year of the administration, so that group includes former RNC chair Reince Priebus and former party spokesman Sean Spicer.
The law firm Jones Day was the only other organization to be linked to at least 10 Trump appointees. Six appointees with the law firm on their resumes ended up at the Department of Justice; another four went to the White House.
There were also a lot of other employers who are interesting not because of volume but because of who they are.
Veterans of Gov. Scott Walker’s (R-Wis.) failed presidential campaign went to the Department of Energy.
Former campaign staff for Jeb Bush and former New Jersey governor Chris Christie went to the White House and State Department. Veterans of Gingrich Productions (think: Newt) went to State. People with Fox News (and, separately, “Fox News Network”) wound up at State and the White House. So did people from Breitbart.
A lot of these connections are obvious. Callista Gingrich is now the ambassador to Vatican City; Stephen K. Bannon went to the White House from Breitbart — and then got tossed out on his ear.
Based on her interview with Politico, Heritage’s James seems pretty content where she is. Should that change, though, she has almost the perfect resume: Trump for America plus Heritage.
And, as of writing, the administration has 217 positions awaiting nominees to fill them.
Ms. James: It’s a buyer’s market.