It’s incredible that President Trump continues to operate a conservative administration given the number of Democrats in his orbit.
His national economic council director Gary Cohn is a Democrat, as is probably his closest advisor, Jared Kushner. Ivanka Trump is a moderate Republican at best. I have little notion of what the politics are of his chief of staff, John Kelly, but I somehow doubt he’s a movement conservative.
Trump does have Steven Miller, his top domestic policy advisor, who is a conservative populist, as well as Council of Economic Advisor Chairman Kevin Hassett, who is a conservative. And of course, several Cabinet secretaries are proven conservatives, including Attorney General Jeff Sessions and HUD Secretary Ben Carson.
But not Mnuchin, who wields enormous power. According to Politico:
Mnuchin prefers to lean on a very small, insular group of aides — Craig Phillips, Eli Miller, Justin Muzinich, Tony Sayegh, Drew Maloney and Brent McIntosh — which has generated frustration among career staff . . .
The White House also continues to distrust Mnuchin’s handling of his own personnel and reluctance to hire additional aides, particularly right-leaning ones, according to two senior administration aides.
He’s opted to leave vacant a number of key positions — including undersecretary for domestic finance, one of the highest-ranked positions in the agency, and deputy Treasury secretary — while surrounding himself with former Wall Street executives, many of them Democrats.
At one point earlier this year, the White House nudged Mnuchin to fire Phillips, a Treasury counselor dealing with housing finance and financial deregulation who acts as the de facto undersecretary. Phillips is a former donor to Hillary Clinton’s campaign and an ex-Wall Street executive widely seen by Republicans as insufficiently conservative. Mnuchin declined.