Trump hiring many former Bush officials

WASHINGTON — For all the lingering tensions between President Trump and former President George W. Bush, Trump’s White House hasone thing in common with his Republican predecessor’s: People.

Trump has installed more than three dozen veterans of the Bush administration, putting them in charge of running agencies, implementing foreign policy, and overseeing his schedule.

While hiring from the last administration controlled by the same party is common, Trump’s staffing moves are notable given his pledges to change politics-as-usual and the frosty relations between the current and former Republican standard-bearers.


The Bush influence has only grown stronger recently, as Trump nominated Alex Azar to lead the Health and Human Services Department, where he served under the Bush administration, and tapped Jerome ‘‘Jay’’ Powell to be chairman of the Federal Reserve. Powell served in the Treasury Department under President George H.W. Bush.

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While the White House says this is standard practice, some Trump allies say the hires don’t fit with the president’s nontraditional style.

‘‘If Donald Trump’s presidency fails it will be because he has perhaps inadvertently surrounded himself with’’ Bush associates, longtime Trump associate Roger Stone said.

The Bush alums in the administration include Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, who served as Bush’s labor secretary, and Dina Powell, the deputy national security adviser who oversaw presidential personnel and later served in Bush’s State Department as an assistant secretary under Condoleezza Rice.

Even the president’s schedule and day-to-day operations are overseen by a former member of Bush’s inner circle: Joe Hagin, who served as deputy White House chief of staff.


Of course, hiring staffers from a past administration brings needed experience.

‘‘These are complex jobs and the time is limited,’’ said Mike Leavitt, a former Utah governor and Health and Human Services secretary under Bush. He pointed to the importance of understanding the complexities of federal regulations, the budget and congressional relations.

‘‘If everyone has to learn it anew the chances of implementing an agenda are substantially reduced and the quality of government isn’t as good,’’ Leavitt said.

Still, the commingling follows a campaign in which Trump repeatedly dismissed Bush’s handling of the Iraq war and his focus on nation-building overseas and branded his brother, former Florida governor Jeb Bush, as ‘‘low-energy Jeb’’ during the Republican primaries.

In a pointed speech last month, George W. Bush — without mentioning Trump by name — denounced bigotry coursing through present-day American politics, warning that ‘‘we’ve seen nationalism distorted into nativism,’’ and the ‘‘return of isolation sentiments, forgetting that American security is directly threatened by the chaos and despair of distant places.’’


Trump vented his frustration about Bush’s speech to a former adviser, arguing that it represented another attack aimed at undermining his presidency, according to a person familiar with the conversation who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe the private conversation.

In a separate development, Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s inquiry into Russian meddling in the 2016 election is expected to continue well into next year, Bloomberg News reporting, citing a US official who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Trump’s lawyer, Ty Cobb, has said the criminal investigation could be over by December. ‘‘The office of special counsel is working diligently to complete its interviews’’ and the White House has been cooperating with the investigation to expedite its conclusion, Cobb said.

But Mueller is continuing to gather evidence and pursue investigative leads, as shown by steps like a subpoena he sent to more than a dozen Trump campaign operatives in October, the US official said.

Mueller has obtained indictments against Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, last month, as well as another campaign aide, Rick Gates, on charges for money laundering and other crimes. Both have pleaded not guilty.