FACT CHECK: Viral Meme Claims The Trump Admin Lacks A Defense Secretary, UN Ambassador And Other High-Level Officials

Trevor Schakohl | Fact Check Reporter

An image shared on Facebook alleges that the Trump administration currently has no White House chief of staff, defense secretary, interior secretary or United Nations ambassador. The administration also lacks directors for the Secret Service, Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), it claims.

Verdict: False

The positions of interior secretary, defense secretary and U.N. ambassador are filled in a permanent capacity. Only three positions – ICE director, Homeland Security secretary and White House chief of staff – are helmed by individuals on an acting basis.

Fact Check:

The Facebook post, which has been shared more than 600 times, uses a list of alleged vacancies in the Trump administration to question President Donald Trump’s ability to serve as president.

“TRUMP CURRENTLY HAS: No Secret Service Director, no Homeland Security Director, no ICE Director, no Secretary of Defense, no Secretary of the Interior, no UN Ambassador, no White House Chief of Staff AND NO CLUE HOW TO RUN AMERICA,” reads the caption.

Comedy writer Nick Pappas tweeted out the same claim in April, calling Trump an “isolationist within his own administration.”

While the administration was experiencing turnover around that time, it’s inaccurate to describe the positions mentioned the meme, posted Nov. 1, as currently vacant. Four of these positions are permanently filled, and three are held on an acting basis. (RELATED: Has The Trump Admin Fired Over 1,500 VA Employees?)

In April, the Senate confirmed then-acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt to lead the department on a permanent basis. Mark Esper was sworn in as defense secretary late July, having previously served as the deputy assistant secretary of defense.

Kelly Craft, the current ambassador to the U.N., has held the position since being confirmed by the Senate on July 31, according to the U.S. Mission to the U.N. website.

ICE is currently helmed by acting director Matthew Albence, according to the ICE website. Kevin McAleenan was still serving as the acting Department of Homeland Security (DHS) secretary on Nov. 1, the date the meme was posted, but has since been replaced by Chad Wolf in an acting capacity.

James Murray, a veteran agent with more than 20 years of experience, was sworn in as the director of the Secret Service in May, according to the Baltimore Sun.

Since January, the White House chief of staff position has been held by Mick Mulvaney on an acting basis. He also heads the Office of Management and Budget.

Trevor Schakohl

Fact Check Reporter
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