Nearly one year into the Trump administration, the Justice Department has begun 2018 without Senate-confirmed leaders in at least six of its most important divisions, NPR reports. The department’s top priority — and one often cited by the White House — is safeguarding national security. DOJ’s national security unit has no permanent Trump appointee in place. What’s more, a president and attorney general who campaigned on a promise of “law and order” do not have their choice in place to lead the Justice Department’s criminal division, either.
The Civil Rights Division, the Civil Division, the Environment and Natural Resources Division and the Tax Division are being run by career lawyers or temporary White House appointees. Acting leaders are also in place at the Drug Enforcement Administration; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the U.S. Marshals Service and the Community Relations Service. “I’m not aware of any precedent for so many key positions in DOJ and its affiliated agencies remaining vacant for so long at the beginning of an administration,” said former Justice Department inspector general Michael Bromwich. “Vacancies impair the smooth and effective functioning of DOJ. Temporary leaders of litigating divisions and law enforcement agencies don’t feel fully empowered to lead; important decisions don’t get made; lower level — but important — personnel decisions are put on hold; morale among career personnel declines,” Bromwich said. “It’s not a recipe for good government.”