Most members of President Trump's Cabinet do not have senior leadership teams or top deputies in place amid historically slow nominating and hiring of White House appointees, "but they do have an influential coterie of senior aides installed by the White House who are charged - above all - with monitoring the secretaries' loyalty", The Washington Post reported Sunday, citing "eight officials in and outside the administration".
"This shadow government of political appointees with the title of senior White House adviser is embedded at every Cabinet agency, with offices in or just outside the secretary's suite", the Washington Post reported Monday.
These aides report not to the secretary, but to the Office of Cabinet Affairs, which is overseen by Rick Dearborn, a White House deputy chief of staff, according to administration officials. A top Dearborn aide, John Mashburn, leads a weekly conference call with the advisers, who are in constant contact with the White House.
The appointees are in larger offices like the Environmental Protection Agency and the Defense Department and even smaller ones like NASA, according to the report.
A former Trump campaign adviser said it's a good idea to have someone in the cabinet agencies to make sure President Trump's vision is being carried out.
"Especially when you're starting a government and you have a changeover of parties when policies are going to be dramatically different, I think it's something that's smart", Bennett told the newspaper. But the White House says until the departments hire more senior staffers, their "advisers" are the White House's eyes and ears across the government. But the agencies do fear that the aides are acting as "moles", telling senior White House staff where the agencies stand on key issues.
"The advisers were a main point of contact in the early transition process as the agencies were being set up", the official said.
The aides act as a go-between on policy matters for the agencies and the White House. "And they think it's their moral obligation to do so".