Trump Defends Government Vacancies in Face of Ingraham Critique

WASHINGTON (CN) – President Trump took to Twitter Tuesday morning to defend leaving key posts across the government vacant after Republicans criticized him for it again.

The tweet came shortly after conservative radio host Laura Ingraham told “Fox and Friends” that Hurricane Harvey underscores the need for a fully staffed federal government.

Tweeting directly at “Fox and Friends” and Ingraham, Trump said: “We are not looking to fill all of those positions. Don’t need many of them – reduce size of government.”

Trump sent the tweet out at 8:26 while en route to Corpus Christi, Texas to survey Hurricane Harvey’s aftermath

Prodded by a “Fox and Friends” host on the number of vacancies, Ingraham had said the horrific pictures emerging from Texas show that “a federal government does need staff” and “we have to have people in place.”

“We see it acutely in need of staff in a situation like this,” Ingraham had said.

She also pointed to the crisis with North Korea, suggesting that the U.S. is facing “a crisis of confidence.”

Trump’s failure to fill key posts, particularly diplomatic posts at the State Department, has drawn heavy criticism from both sides of the aisle.

Sens. Lindsey Graham and John McCain admonished the administration in early July after a visit to Afghanistan for leaving embassy posts vacant there.

Graham, along with his Democratic colleague Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, have also criticized deep cuts to the State Department budget proposed by the administration.

Lagging behind his two most recent predecessors, Trump had only sent 277 nominations to the Senate of the 1,200 that require confirmation, and gotten 124 of them confirmed by August break.

In contrast, President George W. Bush had nominated 414 and gotten 294 confirmed by August recess, while President Barack Obama had nominated 433 and gotten 310 confirmed.

Trump’s tweet Tuesday morning suggested that his slower pace of filling posts is intentional and will continue.

During her “Fox and Friends” appearance Tuesday morning, that is something Ingraham said needs to be discussed.

“If there’s a plan to not staff and cause the ultimate shrinkage of government, then let’s hear about that as well,” she said.

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