Loyalty Tests and Retaliation

Even before the White House unleashed its post-impeachment purge of "anti-Trump" officials, it has been clear that the president values loyalty over qualifications and experience, and expects public servants to be loyal to him personally. Following reports that the administration was assessing the political views of career government employees and attempting to purge those perceived to be “disloyal,” American Oversight began investigating how often this was occurring at federal agencies.

Politico reported in March 2018 that high-level Trump administration officials expressed concern about employees who worked in the Obama administration and the “loyalty” of other federal workers. The story also reported that the State Department even spread false information and called an employee an “Obama cheerleader.” Further reporting surfaced that senior Trump officials discussed ways to purge former Obama career employees from their positions. Then in June 2018, Foreign Policy reported that a State Department official, former lobbyist Mari Stull, was searching social media profiles and investigating current employees to see if they were “disloyal” to the Trump administration. Stull’s investigations reportedly included assessing whether or not career State employees had supported Obama-era policies. The secrecy surrounding this monitoring raised alarm among staff and some left the department as a result. Nearly a year later in August 2019, an inspector general’s report found that there was rampant “mistreatment of career employees” at the agency by Stull and former Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs Kevin Moley. 

An authoritarian-like preoccupation with loyalty is nothing new in the Trump administration, but concerns have reached a new level post-impeachment. Our investigation into the Trump administration’s emboldened loyalty purges following his acquittal of impeachment charges in the Senate is available here.

Related Documents

June 30, 2020

FOIA to OMB for Communications Regarding White House Efforts to Retaliate Against Officials Based on Political Loyalty

Office of Management and Budget
FOIA Request
June 30, 2020

FOIA to OMB Seeking the Resignation Letter or Farewell Email of Former Director Cabaniss

Office of Management and Budget
FOIA Request
June 30, 2020

FOIA to OMB Seeking the Email Communications of Former Director Cabaniss Before Her Resignation

Office of Management and Budget
FOIA Request
June 11, 2020

Rejection from Navy for Sec. Modly’s Communications with Capt. Crozier

Department of Defense, DOD - U.S. Department of the Navy
Agency Reply
June 11, 2020

Rejection from Navy for Orders to Mitigate Covid-19 Outbreak Aboard USS Theodore Roosevelt Before Capt. Crozier’s Departure

Department of Defense
Agency Reply
May 28, 2020

GSA Email Communications of Brian Barnes Regarding White House Operations

General Services Administration
Agency Record
May 20, 2020

No Records Response from OPM for the Resignation Letter of Former Director Cabaniss

Office of Personnel Management
Agency Reply
May 19, 2020

No Records Response from DOD Regarding Captain Crozier’s Farewell Communications

Department of Defense
Agency Reply
May 6, 2020

No Records Response from DOD Regarding the Resignation Letter of Rear Admiral Collin Green

Department of Defense
Agency Reply
May 5, 2020

Rejection from Navy Regarding Communiques Sent by Acting Sec. Modly to Navy Personnel

Department of Defense, DOD - U.S. Department of the Navy
Agency Reply
April 30, 2020

Rejection from OPM Regarding Email Communications of Former Director Cabaniss Before her Resignation

Office of Personnel Management
Agency Reply
April 14, 2020

FOIA to Navy Seeking Acting Secretary Modly’s Received Text Messages Concerning Captain Crozier

Department of Defense, DOD - U.S. Department of the Navy
FOIA Request
April 8, 2020

FOIA to DOD Seeking Captain Crozier’s Farewell Emails and Memos

Department of Defense
FOIA Request
April 8, 2020

FOIA to DOD Seeking White House Directives Regarding the USS Theodore Roosevelt or Capt. Crozier

Department of Defense
FOIA Request
April 8, 2020

FOIA to DOD Seeking Communications of Senior Officials Regarding USS Theodore Roosevelt or Capt. Crozier

Department of Defense
FOIA Request
April 8, 2020

FOIA to Navy Seeking Acting Secretary Modly’s Communications with Capt. Crozier

Department of Defense, DOD - U.S. Department of the Navy
FOIA Request
April 8, 2020

FOIA to DOD seeking a copy of the investigation findings regarding the U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt and its coronavirus outbreak

Department of Defense
FOIA Request
April 8, 2020

FOIA to DOD Seeking Any Orders or Plans to Mitigate Coronavirus Outbreak Aboard USS Theodore Roosevelt Before Capt. Crozier’s Departure

Department of Defense
FOIA Request
April 8, 2020

FOIA to DOD Seeking Orders or Plans to Mitigate Coronavirus Outbreak Aboard USS Theodore Roosevelt after Capt. Crozier’s Departure

Department of Defense
FOIA Request
April 8, 2020

FOIA to Navy seeking communiques sent by Acting Secretary Modly to Navy personnel

Department of Defense, DOD - U.S. Department of the Navy
FOIA Request
April 8, 2020

FOIA to Navy Seeking Capt. Crozier’s March 30, 2020, Letter Regarding Assistance with USS Theodore Roosevelt Coronavirus Outbreak

Department of Defense, DOD - U.S. Department of the Navy
FOIA Request
April 6, 2020

FOIA to DOJ Seeking Legal Analysis about Firing or Demoting Fed Chair Powell

Department of Justice, DOJ - Office of Legal Counsel
FOIA Request
April 1, 2020

FOIA to Treasury Seeking Resignation Letter of Jessie Liu

Department of the Treasury
FOIA Request
April 1, 2020

FOIA to DOJ Seeking Communications Between U.S. Attorney Jessie Liu and the White House

Department of Justice
FOIA Request
March 24, 2020

FOIA to OPM Seeking the Email Communications of Former Director Cabaniss Before Her Resignation

Office of Personnel Management
FOIA Request
March 23, 2020

No Records Response from USTR Regarding White House Efforts to Retaliate Against Officials Based on Political Loyalty

Office of the U.S. Trade Representative
Agency Reply
March 17, 2020

Rejection from OPM Regarding Communications Reflecting White House Efforts to Retaliate Against Officials

Office of Personnel Management
Agency Reply
March 17, 2020

Withheld Records Response from State Regarding Email Communications Between Mari Stull and the White House

Department of State
Agency Reply
March 11, 2020

No Records Response from DOL for Communications about White House Efforts to Retaliate Against Officials Based on Political Loyalty

Department of Labor
Agency Reply
March 6, 2020

No Records Response from DOJ Regarding NDAs for Administration Officials

Department of Justice
Agency Reply
February 21, 2020

State Emails Between Former Lobbyist Mari Stull and White House Officials 

Department of State
Agency Record
February 21, 2020

FOIA to DOD Seeking Resignation Letter of Rear Admiral Collin Green

Department of Defense
FOIA Request
February 14, 2020

No Records Response from OSC Regarding Communications about Nondisclosure Agreements

DOJ - Office of Special Counsel
Agency Reply
December 3, 2019

NRR from State Department Regarding ‘Deep State Digest’

Department of State
Agency Reply
September 24, 2019

No Records Response From VA Regarding Administration Holdovers

Department of Veterans Affairs
Agency Reply
May 13, 2019

FOIA to State Seeking Communications Between Mari Stull and the White House

Department of State
FOIA Request
May 13, 2019

FOIA to State Seeking Communications Containing Key Terms Related to Potential Political Appointees’ Evaluations of Career Officials’ Political Loyalties

Department of State
FOIA Request
May 13, 2019

FOIA to State Seeking Document Reflecting Political Appointees Tracking of Career Officials’ Political Loyalty

Department of State
FOIA Request
May 13, 2019

FOIA to State Seeking Communications with Former Official Who Reportedly Created a Political “Loyalty List” for Career Officials

Department of State
FOIA Request
April 4, 2019

CEQ Emails Regarding Potential Attempts to Purge Career Employees

White House - Council on Environmental Quality
Agency Record
November 16, 2018

Records from VA Regarding Trump Appointees Accusing Career Staff of Disloyalty

Department of Veterans Affairs
Agency Record
November 7, 2018

Complaint: American Oversight v. State – Political Retaliation

Department of State
Litigation
September 28, 2018

FOIA to State Seeking State Officials’ Communications Regarding Retaliation Against Career Civil Servants for Lack of Loyalty

Department of State
FOIA Request
September 28, 2018

FOIA to State Regarding Retaliation Against Career Civil Servants for Lack of Loyalty

Department of State
FOIA Request
September 28, 2018

FOIA Seeking Communications Containing Search Terms Regarding Sahar Nowrouzzadeh

Department of State
FOIA Request
September 11, 2018

No Records Response From NPS Regarding Communications About Bison Policy

Department of the Interior
Agency Reply
August 30, 2018

FOIA to DOI Regarding the Reassignment of a Yellowstone National Park Superintendent

Department of the Interior
FOIA Request
August 20, 2018

USTR Records Regarding Career Holdovers from the Previous Administration

Office of the U.S. Trade Representative
Agency Record
July 26, 2018

SBA Emails Regarding Career Holdovers

Small Business Administration
Agency Record
June 21, 2018

FOIA to State Seeking Kevin Edward Moley’s Communications

Department of State
FOIA Request
June 21, 2018

FOIA to State Regarding Mari Stull

Department of State
FOIA Request
June 21, 2018

FOIA to State Seeking Mari Stull’s Calendars

Department of State
FOIA Request
June 21, 2018

FOIA To State Seeking Mari Stull’s Email Communications

Department of State
FOIA Request
June 21, 2018

FOIA to State Seeking Mari Stull Email Communications with Congress

Department of State
FOIA Request
June 21, 2018

FOIA to State Seeking Mari Stull Email Communications with .Gov Email

Department of State
FOIA Request
June 21, 2018

FOIA to State Seeking Mari Stull’s Emails Regarding Her Review of State Employees’ Social Media

Department of State
FOIA Request
June 21, 2018

FOIA to State Seeking Mari Stull’s Web History

Department of State
FOIA Request
June 21, 2018

FOIA to State Seeking Nikki Haley’s Communications

Department of State
FOIA Request
April 5, 2018

FOIA to EPA Regarding Employees Who Were Retaliated Against For Rejecting Pruitt’s Spending Habits

Environmental Protection Agency
FOIA Request
April 2, 2018

FOIA to HUD to Shed Light on Retaliation Against Employees

Department of Housing and Urban Development
FOIA Request
February 6, 2018

No Records Response From HHS Regarding Loyalty Pledges

Department of Health and Human Services
Agency Reply
January 23, 2018

Complaint: American Oversight v. HHS – Appointee Pledges

Department of Health and Human Services
Litigation