Appointee Watch: Nominations Overshadowed by FBI Director Firing

Then-FBI Director James Comey testifies on May 3, six days before President Trump fired him. Then-FBI Director James Comey testifies on May 3, six days before President Trump fired him. AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

President Trump has two new major appointments to add to his long list of administration positions that need filling. On Tuesday, Trump controversially fired FBI Director James Comey, and on the same day, Census Bureau Director John Thompson announced he was stepping down after 27 years with the agency, including five years at the helm.

And last week, Trump’s pick for Army secretary, Mark Green, withdrew his name from consideration for the post following backlash over controversial statements he had made on LGBT issues, Islam and evolution. Green was Trump’s second choice to lead the service after Vincent Viola took himself out of the running over difficulties divesting from his financial dealings.

In better news for the White House, the Senate recently voted to confirm Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb and Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson. And U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer was confirmed to his position Thursday.

On Monday, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said the administration is changing its appointments process to limit delays between nomination announcements and when those names are actually sent to the Senate for consideration.

“There is a method to this in terms of the nominees who are getting put out now, and I think you should expect to see more and more go through,” Spicer told reporters. “The process this time around is a little bit different. We’re actually going through the Office of Government Ethics and FBI clearances before announcing most of these individuals.”

According to the Washington Post and the Partnership of Public Service, which has been tracking more than 500 key administration posts requiring Senate confirmation, 29 appointees have been confirmed by the senate. Sixty-eight people have been announced or formally nominated and sent to the Senate, while 460 jobs remain unfilled.

In recent days, Trump has named the following people to key positions:

Agency for International Development: Mark A. Green, administrator. Green is president of the International Republican Institute, a nonprofit organization that promotes democratic institutions in other nations. He was ambassador to Tanzania during the George W. Bush administration and is a former congressman from Wisconsin.

Energy: Neil Chatterjee, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission member. Chatterjee is the energy policy advisor to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. He previously worked as a principal in government relations for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association and he was an aide to former Rep. Deborah Pryce, R-Ohio.

Robert Powelson, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission member. Powelson has been a commissioner on the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission since 2008. He is president of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, and serves on the Electric Power Research Institute Advisory Board and the Drexel University Board of Trustees.

Health and Human Services: Matthew Bassett, assistant secretary for legislation. Bassett is on the board of directors for the Access Tennessee Health Insurance Pool, and he was most recently a senior executive with health care companies myNEXUS and Davita Inc. He also has served as a professional staff member on the House Rules Committee and the House Energy and Commerce committee.

State: Jay Patrick Murray, alternate representative for special political affairs to the U.N. Murray is a retired Army colonel, who served in Iraq, the Balkans and other regions. He was an advisor to the State Department’s Bureau of Political Military Affairs and has been the U.S. military representative at the U.N.

Transportation: Adam Sullivan, assistant secretary for government affairs. Sullivan is a professional staff member on the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies. He has served in a variety of roles for members of Congress, and was deputy assistant secretary of labor for congressional affairs during the George W. Bush Administration.

Treasury: David Kautter, assistant secretary for tax policy. Kautter is partner-in-charge of the Washington national tax practice at RSM, an audit and consulting services company. He previously served as managing director of the Kogod Tax Center and executive-in-residence at the Kogod School of Business at American University.

Also, the White House on Monday put forward nine judicial nominees to various federal district and appellate courts.

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