Ex-Trump aide says ‘competency and experience’ would be ‘out the window’ in second term

Sarah Matthews, a former spokesperson for ex-President Trump, said Wednesday she expects a hypothetical second Trump term to be bereft of any aides with “competency and experience.”

Instead, she said in an interview with CNN’s Jim Acosta, she expects the presumptive GOP nominee to surround himself with loyalists who would be eager to please him without offering any constructive guidance.

“It’s extremely worrisome because I think competency and experience are going to be out the window,” Matthews said, citing a recent Time magazine interview with Trump.

She continued, “In this article, he says that he wants to put loyalists in these positions of power, and a litmus test to secure a job would be that you believe that the 2020 election was stolen from him.”

Matthews noted that, in Trump’s first term, he had career public servants and military officials serving in high capacities in his administration and on staff — including retired Gen. John Kelly, who served as Trump’s chief of staff, and former Defense Secretary Mark Esper, whom Trump fired just days after Biden won the election in 2020.

“It’s concerning to think there won’t be people, I believe, of good character staffing him this go-around. You’re not going to have the John Kellys and Mark Espers who would push back on him. Instead, it’s going to be a bunch of ‘yes’ men and women who will do and say what he pleases,” Matthews added.

Matthews said she’s concerned about the potential for Trump to enforce what she views as bad policy without getting the expert advice all presidents need.

“I think, in the last administration, we were able to dissuade him from a lot of bad policies by saying, ‘Oh, well, this could hurt your reelection chances.’ If he is elected president again, that won’t be a concern next time around,” Matthews said.

“So I think that you’re not really going to be able to steer him off of some of these bad policies like such as family separation that we saw in his first term, things like that. I believe he would go forward with because he wanted to do that during the first term.”

A spokesperson for the Trump campaign criticized Matthews in an emailed statement, saying only someone like she “would think hiring enemies subverting the will of the American people to serve in an administration would be a good idea.”

How Trump’s second term could be different from his first

Recent reporting has indicated the former president and his team seem poised to staff a possible second administration with more loyalists who have fully bought into Trumpism.

Conservative groups in Washington, D.C., are already working to identify potential staff for a second Trump administration, as seen most prominently in The Heritage Foundation’s “Project 2025” initiative, which is being led by former Trump White House officials Paul Dans and Spencer Chretien.

The initiative is a collection of policy proposals that, together, would reshape the executive branch on a massive scale. The plan would recruit tens of thousands of conservatives to replace current federal civil service workers.

But the Trump campaign has sought to maintain its distance from outside groups putting forward policy or personnel proposals during the campaign, instead insisting Trump himself would make the final decision on senior leadership and other decisions when the time comes.

—Updated at 3:43 p.m.

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