Trump As Administrator in Chief: A Retrospective
Trump as Administrator in Chief: A Retrospective, in The American Presidency Under Trump (2021, Forthcoming)
This paper was presented at Bocconi University's conference 'The American Presidency After Donald Trump,' November 11-13, 2020.
15 Pages Posted: 16 Dec 2020 Last revised: 24 Aug 2021
Date Written: December 11, 2020
The Trump Presidency has been such a blur of shattered norms and unprecedented behaviors that observers might well wonder whether the concepts and frameworks usually used to understand the American presidency even apply. With respect to the President’s leadership of the executive branch, this paper argues that they can. For decades, U.S. Presidents have sought to exert greater control over the apparatus of the administrative state, principally through two broad strategies: centralizing control, and politicizing agency leadership. At the broadest level, many of the Trump administration’s moves have been in the service of one or the other of those strategies. To be sure, things have looked different in the Trump Era. In some respects, Trump has pushed the centralization and politicization of administrative power in ways without precedent in the modern presidency. At the same time, many of the President’s moves have been ineffectual. Although the Trump administration has been less effective at achieving the President’s objectives than it might have been, the President’s approach to administration has also caused damage to the institutions of American governance that will take time to repair.
Keywords: presidency, presidentialism, public administration, administrative law, federal agencies, bureaucracy, executive power
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