Trump May Leave Nuclear Security Administration Leaderless After Inauguration

Published January 10, 2017
Published January 10, 2017

The agency in charge of protecting America's nuclear arsenal could be without oversight, potentially for months.

Nuclear Trump Unguarded

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Come Inauguration Day, American may soon find its nuclear stockpile unguarded — that is until President-elect Donald Trump appoints a successor to run the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), the agency in charge of managing the safety, security, and effectiveness of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile.

According to Gizmodo, the Trump camp has not asked the head of the NNSA and his deputy — Undersecretary for Nuclear Security Frank Klotz and Madelyn Creedon — to stay on in their roles. After the inauguration, their offices will thus remain vacant until Trump appoints a successor.

Trump will leave the $12 billion-a-year agency in charge of maintaining the country’s nuclear arsenal leaderless until the Senate confirms their replacements, a process wrought with political infighting that could delay this critical transition by months.

Without a leader, the NNSA will find it very hard to secure a sustainable budget from Congress — no advocate means no representation — and will not be allowed to begin any new initiatives.

This will be unprecedented in the history of the NNSA and America’s nuclear cache, which President Obama’s administration is currently upgrading. In fact, Trump’s inauguration will mark the first time in the NNSA’s 17-year history that the agency will ever have to function without someone at the helm.

“It’s a shocking disregard for process and continuity of government,” a source at the Energy Department told Gizmodo, confirming that the Trump camp has yet to nominate a successor. “I’m more and more coming around to the idea that we’re so very very fucked.”

“There are scores more appointees within the department,” the source told Gizmodo. “Secretarial and administration appointments that don’t require Senate confirmation, mostly performing policy, liaison, and strategic advisory capacities in support of the agency they’re at. They serve at the will of the head of their agency. Those people are, theoretically, also out on Inauguration Day unless otherwise directed, which hasn’t happened yet to my knowledge.”

An NNSA official, speaking on background, confirmed to Defense News that, “There have been no discussions between the president-elect’s transition team and any of NNSA’s political appointees on extending their public service past Jan. 20.”

Considering that Klotz and Creedon have already submitted their resignations and are planning on departing January 20 — the goodbye party is scheduled for next Thursday — it doesn’t bode well for the agency in charge of keeping America’s nuclear arsenal safe and maintained.

Next, find out why Trump said he wanted a nuclear arms race after tweeting about upgrading America’s nuclear stockpile, before finding out why Trump might be impeachable on the first day of his presidency.

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