Some of Donald Trump‘s current top officials raised “red flags” during the transition team’s vetting process, which was done by the Republican National Committee.

Documents leaked to Axios show that several of the Trump administration’s cabinet officials were marked for various reasons as being poor choices for office. These documents, the result of an initial “scrub” of candidates’ backgrounds by the RNC, were the only sources of information that the president had available to him when choosing secretaries. Usually, any would-be official undergoes vetting by the FBI and the Office of Government Ethics ahead of time, but this was not the case with Trump’s team, resulting in the various scandal-ridden exits of many of his cabinet members.

Scott Pruitt, the former head of the Environmental Protection Agency, had an entire section of his vetting report named “allegations of coziness with big energy companies.” Pruitt was eventually ousted from the EPA over serious ethics issues, as well as his close ties to individuals in the oil and gas industries.

Tom Price, the ex-Secretary of Health and Human Services, was marked as having poor “management ability,” citing his weak leadership of the House Budget Committee. Price later resigned after losing favor with the president over reports of his unethical use of chartered flights.


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Mick Mulvaney, Trump’s current chief of staff, had a plethora of red flags, including his assertion that Trump “is not a very good person.”

Rex Tillerson, the former Secretary of State, was flagged as having “deep” ties to Russia. He was eventually dismissed after his relationship with the president soured.

The vetting team was so nervous about Rudy Giuliani becoming Secretary of State that they created a separate 25-page document entitled “Rudy Giuliani Business Ties Research Dossier” discussing his possible foreign business conflicts.

Many of the possible candidates for office were marked with red flags for their negative opinion of Trump. Officials such as Nikki Haley, former U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Ryan Zinke, Secretary of the Interior, and Energy Secretary Rick Perry all had previously attacked the president, calling him things such as “un-defendable” and a “toxic mix of demagoguery, mean-spiritedness, and nonsense that will lead the Republican Party to perdition.” Nonetheless, the president hired all three individuals.


When asked about the red flags raised during the vetting process, the White House responded that “President Trump has assembled an incredible team throughout the federal government who — in spite of 93% negative news coverage — has accomplished undeniable successes like tax cuts, record employment levels, a booming economy… rebuilding the military and crushing ISIS.”

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