02:40 - Source: CNN
The high-profile exits since Trump took office
CNN  — 

President Donald Trump promised during the campaign to stock his White House with “the best people in the world” – but it’s turning out more like “the best people in the immediate circle of people who I directly know.”

How else can you explain that within the last month or so, we’ve heard reports that Trump wanted to install his personal pilot as head of the FAA (although that report has yet come true) and then this week he installed his doctor as head of the VA?

One of the things that helped Dr. Ronny Jackson get the job was that the President appreciated the way he defended Trump’s health during a White House press conference.

Loyalty is the key theme of Trump’s management style.

When his campaign needed some help back in 2016, he went to the Republican operative who lived nearest – literally in Trump Tower – to take things over: Paul Manafort.

His daughter and son-in-law both ended up as senior advisers in the White House.

His longtime bodyguard and head of security, Keith Schiller, got a key role, too, as deputy assistant to the President and director of Oval Office operations.

And so did his former golf caddy, Dan Scavino, who became social media director during the campaign and is now White House director of social media and assistant to the President.

It’s also how, at the ripe age of 26, Hope Hicks became White House communications director. She’d been with Trump throughout the campaign and, by all accounts, the President trusted her.

He had already blown through more seasoned people in the role. Mike Dubke, the longtime Republican operative, had left quietly after a few months on the job. Anthony Scaramucci left after a few days.

Hicks, already at the President’s side, ultimately got the big job.

The problem is that Trump seems to be running out of people close to him who he trusts. Schiller left for a bigger paycheck.

Hicks resigned after she admitted to House investigators that she’d told what were described as white lies on behalf of the President and also became embroiled in the controversy around the denied security clearance of Rob Porter, the former Trump staff secretary with whom she was romantically linked and who was accused of spousal abuse by two ex-wives. Porter has denied the allegations.

Hicks’ last day was Thursday. Now CNN’s Kevin Liptak reports the President is being told by some allies he doesn’t even need a communications director. Or a chief of staff. His relationship with chief of staff John Kelly has been up and down, and Liptak reports he has been finding ways around Kelly on some key decisions recently.

US President Donald Trump points to former communications director Hope Hicks shortly before making his way to board Marine One on the South Lawn and departing from the White House on March 29, 2018. (MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Kelly took the job over after the previous chief of staff, Reince Priebus, left. Kelly was not a Trump insider, but first gained the President’s trust as his first Secretary of Homeland Security.

By the way, Trump at first liked surrounding himself with generals, but had to fire the fiercely loyal Michael Flynn for lying to Vice President Mike Pence, eased H.R. McMaster out the door when the two didn’t really get along, and has been said to have soured on Kelly.

That could leave Secretary of Defense James Mattis as the last general standing.

Much of Trump’s problem stems from the fact that a lot of the top Republican talent simply does not want to work for him. He came to Washington promising to drain the same swamp that also is the natural habitat of top political talent.

The other thing to remember here is that few ever seem to really completely leave Trump’s orbit once they’ve been caught in his tractor beam.

Two former aides, Corey Lewandowski and Steve Bannon, have publicly pushed the idea that he could go without a chief of staff.

And Trump has mused, according to reports, about bringing Porter – with whom he is still said to talk – back to the White House, though the President has has told advisers he realizes he probably could not do that after the allegations against him.

The Point: All of this is evidence that the President’s circle is very small. And that can be problematic, when running the country is such a very big job.