Education Secretary Betsy DeVos felt “undercoached” by transition-team staff members for her contentious confirmation hearing in January, according to a lengthy profile of the enigmatic cabinet official in Politico Magazine.
“The transition group was very circumspect about how much information they gave me about then-current policy,” she said, and “it was in their view a balance between being prepared for a confirmation hearing and not having well-formed opinions on what should or shouldn’t change, so as not to get caught in a confirmation hearing making commitments that then I wouldn’t want to or be able to keep.”
“And in hindsight,” she said, “I wish I had a whole lot more information.”
Some observers noted that this was not the first time Ms. DeVos has criticized staff membersfor a misstep, including a tweet during the inauguration and a reference to historically black colleges as pioneers of school choice.
During a string of interviews with the magazine, Ms. DeVos — who rarely speaks with national reporters — told Politico that while she expected dealing with bureaucracy to be difficult, it is “much more formidable” than even she anticipated. “It’s even worse,” she said, “and you know, in talking to a lot of the great career staff, it’s like everybody nods their heads when you talk about this … yet it seems like everyone is powerless to do anything about it.”Ms. DeVos has faced increased scrutiny over the past week after a Freedom of Information Act request by American Oversight, a nonprofit group focused on “holding this administration accountable,” returned a detailed version of her schedule over her first six months as secretary. The group’s report focused on what it described as “frequent days off.” Ms. DeVos’s public schedule, which is typically updated on a weekly basis, has not been updated since the middle of October, adding to the criticism.