Christian nationalist Russ Vought recently appeared on Turning Point USA co-founder Charlie Kirk’s radio show to discuss plans to purge at least 10% of federal career staffers under a new Trump administration. Vought described that portion of the federal workforce as “the roots of the problem” that prevented former President Donald Trump from fully implementing his agenda. During the interview, Kirk suggested that the next Republican administration subject civil servants to “ideological purity tests.”
Vought ran the powerful Office of Management and Budget under Trump and now heads up a right-wing think tank called the Center for Renewing America, whose mission is to “renew a consensus of America as a nation under God.” While at OMB, Vought helped develop a policy called “Schedule F” as a tool that would allow a new conservative administration to circumvent job protections typically enjoyed by federal workers who aren’t politically appointed.
Speaking on the September 23 edition of The Charlie Kirk Show, Vought claimed to have reclassified 90% of the workers in his own office under that job category.
“Schedule F is an authority that we discovered and developed at the end of the Trump administration to give the president the ability to reclassify career civil servants, who normally have permanency within the bureaucracy, to turn them into essentially at-will employees,” Vought told Kirk.
When asked by Kirk how many career employees he’d like to potentially sack using this authority, Vought set the floor at 10% of current workers, but suggested that he considers as much as 80% of the federal workforce to be ideological opponents.
“I would say that within my agency, we had, you know, 80% of it was left-leaning,” Vought said. “Their paradigms were all rooted in this permanent class, ruling class that defines the milieu of Washington, D.C.”
“And you can reason and work with that crowd, but there is about a 10% of activists that are animated by the wokeism, the anti-racist movement, to be able to come into these agencies and they're just activists,” Vought added.
Vought then told Kirk that someone in the human resources department at OMB described themselves and their colleagues as “committed anti-racists.”
Kirk responded by calling that person the leader of “a sleeper cell of a woke communist ideology who's just right there within our federal government.”
“You're going to have to figure out how to solve that, I don’t know,” Kirk continued. “But ideological purity tests are an interesting approach, but let's break up the federal government first and then we'll go from there.”
In July, Axios reported on discussions Trump allies were having about staffing their next administration, with the Schedule F being central to the framework. Vought reportedly has been a leader in these efforts: As Media Matters reported a week prior to Axios’ story, Vought stated publicly that he wants to build an “army” of hard-right activists with “Biblical worldview” to run the federal agencies that he can’t outright destroy. He’s been very clear that the goal is to get “ideologically committed individuals up and down the agencies,” and he’s been similarly clear that Schedule F is the way to do it.
Right-wing propagandist Christopher Rufo – known for launching bad-faith attacks on critical race theory and targeting children’s hospitals that provide care to trans youth – has pushed for a similar course of action.
“The idea is to centralize ideological control over the federal agencies in the White House and create a team at the Office of Management and Budget to enforce it,” Rufo said in an interview with conservative website IM-1776 in July.
In furtherance of those shared goals, Vought has attempted to turn the Center for Renewing America into a shadow government-in-waiting for Trump or another conservative president. In June, Vought brought on Jeffrey Clark, a former Department of Justice environmental lawyer and Trump’s top coup architect, as senior fellow at CRA. Kash Patel, another key figure in Trump’s attempt to subvert the 2020 election, is a CRA senior fellow as well.
In the recent interview with Kirk, Vought expressed a common regret among former Trump officials that the administration wasted precious time in its first years adjusting to the steep learning curve of running the government.
“My hope is that we don’t have to do that again because we're laying the groundwork now,” Vought said, later adding, “We want to make sure that can never happen again and make sure that from day one, we can ensure that the agenda is being done.”