Donald Trump has secretly hired hundreds of allies within US government to act as 'eyes and ears'

Niamh McIntyre
Pro Publica has revealed the identities of hundreds of new hires across federal government: Getty Images

Donald Trump has been accused of quietly installing hundreds of sympathetic civil servants into every major federal agency.

Among those taken on are a number of far-right commentators associated with the pro-Trump news site, Breitbart, a former reality TV show contestant and a supporter who has only recently graduated from high school.

A full list of the President’s appointments has been obtained by ProPublica, which describes itself as an independent non-profit newsroom that produces investigative journalism in the public interest.

Among the more notable appointments is Curtis Ellis, now a special assistant to the Labour Secretary.

Mr Ellis is a former columnist for WorldNetDaily, a news site best known for its promotion of the “birther” movement, which sought to discredit President Obama by claiming he was born outside the United States.

He made headlines last year after he wrote a column suggesting that Mr Obama and Hillary Clinton were conspiring to commit “ethnic cleansing” of “white working people”.

At the time he was advising Mr Trump on economic and trade matters as he campaigned for President.

But Mr Ellis is one of around 520 people employed by the White House in January on contracts which would last between four and eight months, according to ProPublica. Many of these roles have the potential to be made permanent.

At the time they were described in some quarters as “beachhead” teams - named after the line of defense that the military constructs as it lands in enemy territory.

Their role was to ensure that President Obama’s appointees would not be able to obstruct his successor's policies.

While many remain in their roles, hundreds of jobs which require Senate confirmation remain unfilled. The President has previously implied this is deliberate.

“A lot of those jobs, I don’t want to appoint someone because they’re unnecessary to have,” Mr Trump said. “In government, we have too many people.”

On the campaign trail, Mr Trump vowed to fight corruption in Washington’s corridors of power, and “drain the swamp” of corporate lobbyists.

More recently, the President signed an executive order which was designed to stop former lobbyists from working in government departments which they had lobbied earlier in their career.

However, the list of recent hires has revealed a number of officials who are now working in the same policy area in which they specialised within the corporate world.

At least three new employees in the Health and Human Services department have worked as lobbyists for the corporate healthcare sector.

Keigan Lenihan, a senior adviser to Health Secretary Tom Price, was previously director of government relations at private healthcare firm McKesson Specialty Health, which reported revenues of $190 billion (£156 billion) in 2016.

Another role in the Department of Defense has been given to a former lobbyist for tech firm Palantir which provides it with specialist software, according to the ProPublica list.

It is possible that Mr Trump has issued ethics waivers to these appointments from the executive order signed in January.

However, the order removed the requirement to publicly disclose these waivers.

The Independent has contacted the Department of Defense, the Health and Human Services Department and The White House for comment, but none had been received at the time of publication.

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