Generally speaking, presidential aides have little trouble exiting the White House and moving on to often lucrative private sector careers, but in the Trump era, this is no easy task.
Companies and firms who used to recruit from presidential administrations and brag when they were successful in poaching an aide are making the calculation that the risks of bringing on a Trump administration official outweigh the rewards, according to interviews with 10 current and former administration officials, top recruiters, and lobbyists who did not want to be named to talk candidly.
BuzzFeed News reached out to them after previously reporting during an especially chaotic stretch for the Trump White House that some officials were trying to leave but finding their job prospects to be “pretty bleak.” That’s especially pronounced for more junior staff.
One top recruiter told Buzzfeed News that it will be “more challenging than ever before” for those exiting the White House to find work.
And they’re concerned about special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe, which makes anyone from Trump’s orbit a potential liability:
“There's a legal risk there," said another leading Washington consultant who specializes in placing government officials in the private sector. "There's a certain level of uncertainness around the toxicity. Generally, there aren't a ton of jobs waiting for those people.”
The Trump brand has also kept some individuals from taking a job at the White House to begin with, especially now that they’ve seen colleagues unable to exit the administration unscathed.
Keeping their future career prospects in mind is also one of the reasons why Republicans are turning down opportunities to work in the administration. Middle-aged Republicans who would typically jump at the chance to work in a GOP administration are foregoing the opportunity in part because they don’t want to jeopardize their future career options.
“I have another 15–20 years of working in town,” said one prominent GOP lobbyist. “The risk is just not worth it.”