According to TheHill, Allies of President Trump have reportedly been assembling lists of government officials deemed to be disloyal to the president and have worked to find pro-Trump replacements for them.
Axios reported Sunday that the lists, which have become more important since Trump’s acquittal in the Senate’s impeachment trial, have been assembled by allies of the president outside the White House, including Ginni Thomas, wife to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.
The lists and memos of targeted officials have been compiled since 2018, according to the news outlet. One list reportedly compiled by conservative activists of Groundswell, an organization with which Ginni Thomas is affiliated, contained a list of State Department employees who should be fired, including John Sullivan, the current U.S. ambassador to Russia.
At least one nomination for a top post at the Treasury Department, that of Jessie Liu, was withdrawn by the president over claims made by activists in memos reported by Axios, despite her recommendation for the post by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
It was unclear from the Axios report how many firings in the administration could be linked to the lists compiled by conservative activists, as Sullivan at least remains at his post.
The White House did not immediately return a request for comment.
Let’s get to the memos.
1. The Jessie Liu memo: Shortly before withdrawing the nomination of the former D.C. U.S. attorney for a top Treasury role, the president reviewed a memo on Liu’s alleged misdeeds, according to a source with direct knowledge.
- Ledeen wrote the memo, and its findings left a striking impression on Trump, per sources with direct knowledge. Ledeen declined to comment.
- A source with direct knowledge of the memo’s contents said it contained 14 sections building a case for why Liu was unfit for the job for which Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin selected her, including:
- Not acting on criminal referrals of some of Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s accusers.
- Signing “the sentencing filing asking for jail time” for Gen. Michael Flynn (a friend of Ledeen’s).
- Holding a leadership role in a women’s lawyers networking group that Ledeen criticized as “pro-choice and anti-Alito.”
- Not indicting former deputy director of the FBI Andrew McCabe.
- Dismissing charges against “violent inauguration protesters who plotted to disrupt the inauguration.”
- Neither Liu nor the White House responded to requests for comment.
Between the lines: The Liu memo is not the first such memo to reach the president’s desk — and there’s a common thread in Groundswell, a conservative activist network that’s headed by Thomas and whose members include Ledeen.
- Sources leaked me details of two other memos from people associated with the Groundswell network that also caused a stir inside the White House over the past year.
Thomas has spent a significant amount of time and energy urging Trump administration officials to change the personnel inside his government. This came to a head early last year.
- Members of Groundswell, whose members earlier led the successful campaign to remove McMaster as national security adviser, meet on Wednesdays in the D.C. offices of Judicial Watch, a conservative legal group that has led the fight against the Mueller probe.
- Judicial Watch’s president is Tom Fitton. He’s a regular on Fox News, and Trump regularly retweets his commentary on the “Deep State.”
- Conservative activists who attend Groundswell meetings funneled names to Thomas, and she compiled those recommendations and passed them along to the president, according to a source close to her.
- She handed a memo of names directly to the president in early 2019. (The New York Times reported on her group’s meeting with Trump at the time.)
2. The Groundswell memo: The presidential personnel office reviewed Thomas’ memo and determined that some names she passed along for jobs were not appropriate candidates. Trump may revisit some given his current mood.
Potential hires she offered to Trump, per sources with direct knowledge:
- Sheriff David Clarke for a senior Homeland Security role.
- Fox News regular and former Secret Service agent Dan Bongino for a Homeland Security or counterterrorism adviser role.
- Devin Nunes aide Derek Harvey for the National Security Council (where he served before McMaster pushed him out).
- Radio talk show host Chris Plante for press secretary.
- Federalist contributor Ben Weingarten for the National Security Council.
Read more here.