Federal employee quits Trump admin ‘because the people in charge want to burn it down’

Eric Lieberman, DCNF

A former employee for a federal agency announced Wednesday that the reason for his recent departure was mainly due to his belief that the Trump administration is essentially “burning down” the government.

Screengrab: Noah Kunin 18F

Noah Kunin originally felt compelled to write following the 2016 presidential election that he was staying on as an engineer for 18F, an agency that is modeled after a startup and operates within the federal government’s General Services Administration (GSA). But roughly eight months later (and six months into President Donald Trump’s tenure) he changed his mind, citing his discomfort with Trump’s conduct.

Specifically, Kunin cited two events as the tipping points.

First was the pre-release of former FBI Director James Comey’s written remarks before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

“While many focused on the potential obstruction of justice detailed within Comey’s notes, I was immediately drawn to a different issue. According to Comey, the President clearly asked, repeatedly, for his personal loyalty,” Kunin wrote in a blog post (emphasis his). “I think this is even more dangerous and shocking than the potential for obstruction of justice. Even though I intellectually knew that most of Trump’s decisions are based on personal politics, seeing it in writing, under oath, and from the FBI Director at the time no less, had an unexpectedly massive emotional impact on me.”

The last straw for Kunin was that 18F — along with another larger service he helped create and its sibling organizations — is being reconfigured. He says that, to fully explain the whole ordeal, he would have to write a very lengthy “analytical piece.” Nevertheless, his primary grievance is that the commissioner of a particular agency soon to be higher up on the organizational hierarchy will “become a political position, with a person appointed directly by the White House” (emphasis his).

“In a single day, the White House took direct control of two of the most important shared service organizations in government,” Kunin said.

This apparently worries Kunin because he feels that Trump doesn’t grant positions due to merit, but rather personal loyalty to himself and the administration.

While adding that his decision to leave doesn’t mean he is “dismissing Trump’s horrific track record before this,” he says he now realizes “the people with the matches are inside the house.”

“The house is not burning down (this time) because it was struck by lightning, or the wiring was shoddy. It’s now on fire because the people in charge want to burn it down,” he said.

Kunin also contends that it’s not just a normal fire, but a greasy one where the only way to put it out is to “suffocate it of the oxygen it needs to burn” — in other words, vacate one’s position in the administration.

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