Trump axes nuclear weapons security chief without naming replacement

Following announcements that President-elect Trump ordered all politically-appointed foreign ambassadors to immediately leave their posts without exception on Inauguration Day, a Gizmodo report Monday appears to suggest that all government positions appointed by President Obama have been told to be out the door January 20. That in and of itself isn’t exactly out of the ordinary — Obama actually asked all of his appointees to hand in their resignation letters by December 7 back when he probably thought Hillary Clinton was going to win the election. What is out of the ordinary, however, is that incredibly important department heads are being forced to leave without any replacement being named. Important departments like the National Nuclear Security Administration.

As you can likely deduce from its title, the NNSA is in charge of maintaining the security of our country’s nuclear arsenal. In a little under two weeks, for the first time in the agency’s nearly two decades of existence, no one will be in charge of it. According to an anonymous source, Under Secretary for Nuclear Security Frank Klotz and his deputy, Madelyn Creedon, have both been ordered to leave by the incoming Trump team without anyone in line to take over the positions.

“It’s a shocking disregard for process and continuity of government,” the source said. “I’m more and more coming around to the idea that we’re so very very fucked.”

It’s completely understandable that the new administration would want to get their own people into major posts. But appointments require Senate confirmation hearings that can last months, and for a department as crucial as, say, one that’s in charge of protecting our nation’s nukes, the incoming president usually would understand the necessity of keeping someone at the helm in the meantime. For his first term and half of his second, President Obama actually kept President Bush’s appointed NNSA chief.

What’s especially surprising is that Trump has previously talked about “expanding the U.S.’s nuclear capability.” It would be impossible to do that without an NNSA head, seeing as how it’s their responsibility to defend the department’s budget to Congress.

“When it comes to the budget negotiations, the fact is that without political leadership they will be struggling for money,” Bob Rosner, the Co-Chair of the Science and Security Board of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, told Gizmodo. “If [Trump] says he wants to invest heavily in the nuclear weapons program, and they don’t have anyone to defend the program, that’s going to be a pretty big problem for him.”

So, on the one hand, we’re currently without a department head for the agency in charge of maintaining our nuclear weapons. On the other, as long as it stays that way, Trump can’t waste any money on building new nuclear weapons. So, comme ci, comme ça?

[Gizmodo | Photo: Getty]