An unusually high number of junior-level civil servants in the U.S. National Security Council are looking for other jobs over concerns about President-elect Donald Trump’s choice for national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, according to current and former officials who spoke with The Guardian. Flynn, who ran the Defense Intelligence Agency until 2014, has emerged as one the most controversial picks Trump has made for his incoming cabinet on account of the retired lieutenant general’s affinity for conspiracy theories and Islamophobia, as well as his partisan posturing and possible connections to the Russian and Turkish governments. Last week, it was also revealed that Flynn had inappropriately shared classified information with foreign military officers while serving in Afghanistan, though an Army investigation later determined national security was not damaged as a result.
Whatever their reasoning, it seems that many of the 400 or so foreign-policy experts who work on the NSC (but aren’t political appointees) aren’t sure it’s a good idea to stick around. Per an official who spoke with The Guardian, “Career people are looking to get out and go back to their agencies and pressure is being put on them to get them to stay. There is concern there will be a half-empty NSC by the time the new administration arrives, which no one wants.” In addition, many of these positions would be difficult to fill, a process that could take months, potentially leading to a talent shortage within a crucial part of the country’s national-security apparatus.
The Guardian reports that the Trump transition team hasn’t been engaging with current NSC officials on many issues of substance, but rather concerning itself with mostly logistical questions. Explained Julianne Smith, a former national security adviser to Vice-President Biden, “There are very important substantive hand-offs that need to be occurring, that are in fact not happening. That is creating added concern about the career civil servants who are in these agencies, wondering what they are in for.”