Trump Hired a Recent College Graduate to Oversee U.S. Trade Deals

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President Donald Trump (3R) and U.S. defense minister, James Mattis (2R) meet with EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini (2L), President-of the EU Commission Jean-Claude Juncker (3L) and European Parliament's President Antonio Tajani (4L) during a meeting at the European Union Headquarters during a NATO meeting in Brussels on May 25, 2017. STEPHANIE LECOCQ/AFP/Getty Images

President Donald Trump's administration has long been criticized for putting forward a collection of underqualified appointees. Now, a new report from the Daily Beast outlines the rise of a top official in the Office of the United States Trade Representative, a deputy chief of staff who was less than three years out of college when hired.

G. Payne Griffin was appointed to the "landing team" for the Trump administration in September 2016, at the office of the USTR under Robert Lighthizer. The USTR is tasked with renegotiating free trade deals and focusing on ending allegedly unfair practices by economic partners like China or Mexico.

Griffin attended American University in Washington, D.C., graduating in 2014 with a bachelors in economics and political science. According to his biography on the USTR website, he assisted then-Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama in "trade policy and other financial issues" and helped develop trade policy goals as a part of the Trump transition team, skipping past several typical positions between legislative correspondent and high-ranking staffer in a federal office. Griffin has been attending meetings with high-ranking and foreign government officials, as well as trade negotiations about the future of NAFTA.

Progressive watchdog group American Oversight obtained a copy of Griffin's resume, and the Daily Beast saw the document, noting that he listed his Eagle Scout experience among his leadership skills. In contrast, Griffin's predecessor, Behnaz Kibria, served as deputy chief of staff at USTR after years of work experience, including as an assistant general counsel at the USTR and as trade counsel for the House Ways and Means Committee.

Many appointees in the Trump administration have been scrutinized for their nontraditional backgrounds before getting high-ranking government jobs. Most recently, the Washington Post reported that a 23-year-old who was appointed to deputy chief of staff in the White House's drug policy office had worked at a law firm while in college, but was let go after he failed to show up. The staffer, Taylor Weyeneth, submitted a resume to the Office of National Drug Control Policy that said he had worked at the firm for eight months longer than the firm reported. The White House reported Wednesday that Weyeneth would resign.