President Donald Trump dismissed the idea that he needs to appoint key State Department officials to handle foreign policy, insisting, “I’m the only one that matters.”
“Are you worried that the State Department doesn’t have enough Donald Trump nominees in there to push your vision through?” Fox News host Laura Ingraham asked Trump in an interview that aired Thursday.
“Let me tell you, the one that matters is me,” Trump replied. “I’m the only one that matters, because when it comes to it, that’s what the policy is going to be. You’ve seen that, you’ve seen it strongly.”
Ingraham told Trump that “other State Departments, including Reagan’s, at times, undermined his agenda. And there is a concern that the State Department currently is undermining your agenda.”
“So, we don’t need all the people that they want,” Trump agreed. “You know, don’t forget, I’m a businessperson. I tell my people, ‘Where you don’t need to fill slots, don’t fill them.’ But we have some people that I’m not happy with their thinking process.”
Trump took a moment to blame Democrats for obstructing his nominees despite Republicans controlling Congress, but then remembered he hasn’t appointed the nominees he is blaming the Democrats of blocking.
“We don’t need all of the people,” Trump said. “You know, it’s called cost-saving.”
Trump says he's not worried about unfilled State Department roles b/c "the one that matters is me. I am the only one that matters." pic.twitter.com/JxcWiy7ozY
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) November 3, 2017
Trump’s comment comes as he heads to Asia, where many are concerned that key jobs, like ambassador to South Korea, have gone unfilled amid rising tensions with North Korea. Trump also has not nominated key ambassadors to Middle Eastern states, like Turkey and Egypt.
Trump has only nominated about 55 ambassadors while Obama had 79 in place by this time in his first year and George W. Bush had 95. Only 25 of Trump’s nominees have been confirmed.
While Trump touts his abdication of responsibility and at the same time complains some in the State Department might be undermining his agenda, it’s his lack of initiative that has left Obama holdovers in key jobs.
According to Fox News, just one of the six under secretary positions at the State Department has been filled, with a holdover from the last Administration.
Trump has only nominated one person for any of the five remaining positions.
Trump has also only filled three of the 24 assistant secretary positions in the department and only one has been confirmed thus far, while the other two were holdovers from the Obama Administration.
Trump has also proposed cutting the State Department budget by nearly 30 percent, which many believe is a move to appease his nationalist supporters.
“My suspicion is that within the White House, particularly amongst the nationalist faction … that this seems to actually be a concerted effort to diminish the role of the State Department in U.S. foreign policy and hamper its abilities to pursue policies that would be considered overly globalist,” Stewart Patrick, who worked in the State Department under George W. Bush, told The Hill.
“They also don’t see much use, frankly, in diplomacy,” Patrick added.