It took less than a year into Donald Trump’s presidency for members of his Cabinet to start leaving their jobs: In 2017, chief of staff Reince Priebus and Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price called it quits, while Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly left his post to succeed Priebus. The departures continued to mount in 2018, as high-profile Cabinet members like Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt headed for the exits. Then, on Dec. 31, three Cabinet-level officials — Kelly, Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis — departed the Trump administration. Most recently, only a couple of days into 2019, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke followed them out the door.
About halfway through President Trump’s term seems like a good time to check in once again on the rate of turnover in his Cabinet compared with past presidents. Once again, it is unprecedented in recent history. Through this point in their presidencies, none of the preceding six presidents had weathered more turnover in the 24 offices that constitute Trump’s Cabinet1 than Trump has. As of Jan. 8, there had already been 12 staffing changes to his Cabinet. The president with the next-highest number at this point in his presidency was Bill Clinton, with only six. In fact, by Jan. 8 of the third year of the previous six administrations combined, just 16 people had left these offices.
Typically, people don’t start departing en masse until a president’s second term. All four of the two-term presidents we looked at — Ronald Reagan, Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama — didn’t reach 12 personnel changes until after they