Donald Trump, whose faltering mental and cognitive competence is increasingly on display every time he opens his mouth these days, is suddenly firing nearly the entire leadership at the Department of Homeland Security. So is this merely a broad and pointless fit of rage on the part of a man who’s falling apart, or is there something more calculated going on here?
A few months into his presidency, Donald Trump abruptly fired dozens of U.S. Attorneys across the nation, after having already signaled that he was planning to keep them all. By the time the smoke cleared, it had become obvious that all the carnage was merely an excuse for Trump to get rid of Preet Bharara, who at the time was the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. The SDNY had federal jurisdiction over New York City, where Trump lived and ran his businesses, and Trump wanted Bharara out of there before he could expose any of Trump’s crimes.
Now it’s fair to wonder if we’re in a similar situation. First Donald Trump canned his own ICE Director nominee last week, saying he wanted someone “tougher,” which made no sense considering he’d just finished handpicking the guy. Then he pushed Homeland Security Director Kirstjen Nielsen out the door last night. Then today he announced that he was getting rid of Nielsen’s top deputy. Now he’s getting rid of the Secret Service Director for no apparent reason. It’s that last one that stands out.
The leaders of DHS and ICE are supposed to carry out the president’s political agenda, so it would make sense for the president to replace these people if his agenda changes, or if they’re unwilling to continue carrying it out. But there’s no evidence that this even necessarily happened. And now Trump is forcing out the head of the Secret Service, a distinctly nonpartisan agency whose operations are entirely separate from the president’s agenda. The only legitimate basis for firing the Secret Service Director would be due to personal scandal or professional incompetence, and there’s no evidence of any such thing. By all accounts, the Secret Service is doing as strong of a job as ever.
Instead the only thing that stands out is that last week a Chinese operative managed to get into Mar-a-Lago with devices containing malicious malware, after Donald Trump’s private security let her in. The Secret Service then caught her in the act and arrested her. By all indications, the Secret Service handled this situation smartly and correctly. Yet now Trump is suddenly firing the head of the Secret Service.
This raises all kinds of questions. Is Donald Trump firing the head of the Secret Service because he’s upset that they caught the Chinese operative who was trying to do something clandestine at his home? If so, does this mean Trump is on the side of the Chinese operative? And did Trump fire all these other DHS leaders first, just to make it look like he was only firing the Secret Service Director as part of his DHS housecleaning? After all, we’ve already seen Trump fire huge amounts of people just to remove the one guy he feared might expose his crimes and/or foreign allegiances. The question is whether Trump is doing it again.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report