5 high-profile departures in 2 weeks for Trump's White House
- Washington (CNN) - President Donald Trump has tried to quell talk of chaos in his administration for days, but the last two weeks inside the West Wing have been anything but calm.
- Undersecretary for Public Diplomacy Steve Goldstein said Tillerson, who had been on a week-long tour of African nations until Tuesday morning, did not speak to Trump before his ouster and is unaware of the reasons behind the firing.
- Gary Cohn, Trump's top economic adviser, resigned from the White House last week after he voiced his fierce disagreement with the President's decision to levy steel and aluminum tariffs.
- John McEntee, Trump's longtime personal aide and bodyman, was fired and escorted from the White House on Monday, three sources with knowledge of the situation told CNN on Tuesday.
Several Trump administration staffers are vying for Hope Hicks' job, but some see her as 'irreplaceable'
- Current Trump administration staffers and some old associates of the president are among those being considered, while chief of staff John Kelly is looking for candidates outside the White House, Politico reported on Friday.
- The White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, is among the names being floated, as well as director of strategic communications Mercedes Schlapp, and Tony Sayegh, a public-affairs staffer at the Treasury Department.
- Both Schlapp and Sayegh have made known their interest in the job, the report said, adding that Schlapp is already a known quantity in the West Wing and a close ally of Kelly.
- Hicks had been reluctant to the job last year, Politico said, initially taking on the title of "interim" communications director.
- On average, Trump's communications directors have stayed in the job for fewer than 100 days, according to CNN — the shortest average for the role since it was created during the Nixon administration.
'This is not going to end well': Trump's friends and allies are worried he's spiraling out of control — and they say this time is different
- One of the president's closest confidantes who's been with him since the beginning, Hicks' departure will be a huge loss for Trump, who has fewer and fewer close, trusted allies in his White House.
- Trump has recently undertaken significant policy measures, like the planned tariffs announced this week on steel and aluminum, without consulting or reviewing them with his advisers.
- On Wednesday, Trump had chided Republicans in a meeting for being "afraid of the NRA," and then invited members of the gun rights group to the White House the following night.
- Trump also escalated his public feud with attorney general Jeff Sessions, attacking him on Twitter Wednesday.
- The Post reported that Trump was "raging" about Sessions' disloyalty to friends the following morning.
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- On the domestic front, this week saw embattled senior White House aide and Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner headline multiple troubling stories in the span of one day, including pointed questions about whether he might be using his official government role for personal gain.
- Kushner also lost his top-secret security clearance this week due to unresolved red flags in his federal background check that he has struggled to overcome.
- The Trump administration also lost another communications director in Hope Hicks— one of Trump's closest and most trusted aides.
- The West Wing drama rolled on, with reports that national security adviser H.R. McMaster could be on his way out, and news that Trump's chief of staff, John Kelly, is still smarting from the scandal around former staff secretary Rob Porter, who was ousted earlier this month over allegations of domestic abuse.
Think the White House is in chaos now? Just wait.
- But now, chaos -- spurred by surprise departures, the ongoing Russia investigation and Trump's own grudge-nursing -- is threatening to overwhelm his presidency, and there's every reason to believe things will get worse, not better, in the coming days.
- The descriptions coming out of the White House describing Trump's state of mind over the last few days all paint a picture of a frustrated and angry executive who feels more and more isolated in his own White House.
- What's different this time is that three of the people he trusts most -- his daughter Ivanka, his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and his longtime aide Hope Hicks -- are either leaving him or weathering problems that put them in weakened positions, at best, and in jeopardy of being forced to leave the White House, at worst.
5 things you need to know today
- Trump defied GOP doctrine on guns and pushed strongly for expanded background checks and raising the age to buy a rifle to 21.
- Walmart and Dick's Sporting Goods both said they're raising the age for gun sales to 21, while Dick's is also ending sales of assault-style rifles.
- She's one of President Trump's closest and most trusted aides.
- Hicks' departure was announced a day after she testified before the House Intelligence Committee and admitted to telling white lies for Trump.
- Russian President Vladimir Putin wanted a daily five-hour "humanitarian pause" in the fighting so civilians could get out of the besieged area.
- Of course, that ticked off the Indians, who called such talk "baseless and unacceptable." Trudeau's trip last week was widely panned amid his own missteps and the sense that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was snubbing him over Canada's alleged cozy relationship with Sikh separatists.
With Hope gone, Trump could soon be left home alone
- Hicks' departure will come at a moment of maximum instability for the White House, with staff morale plummeting and the prowling presence of special counsel Robert Mueller and his Russia probe becoming ever more oppressive.
- Another former White House communications director, Jen Psaki, who served in the Obama administration, said that when people such as Hicks depart the West Wing they leave an emotional void, for other staffers as well as the President, describing Hicks as the "tamer of the savage beast" that is Trump.
- Hicks tearfully told White House communications staff Wednesday that the time was simply right for her to go, CNN's Kaitlan Collins reported.
- The Hicks news Wednesday was just the latest in a succession of broadsides to hit the scandal-plagued White House in the last 48 hours that suggest Mueller's probe is getting ever closer to the President.
Hope Hicks' totally ridiculous explanation for why she quit
- Whatever the opposite of the perfect time to leave the White House is -- the "imperfect time"?
- Whatever you thought of her credentials to be the head of the White House's communications operation -- Hicks had little practical experience in dealing with the media -- there is no debate that she was one of the few aides who Trump trusted totally.
- Hicks had been part of the original Trump campaign staff alongside the likes of Corey Lewandowski and Dan Scavino.
- Remember that Trump tends to view the world in very stark terms: those who are loyal to him (very few people) and those who are out to get him (everyone else).
- Simply put: This is a White House in crisis.
- Hicks' departure adds to that sense that the sky is falling around and on Trump.
Hope Hicks Will Resign as White House Communications Director
- Hope Hicks, one of President Donald Trump’s longest serving advisers and closest aides, will resign, the White House said a day after she testified to congressional investigators probing Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election.
- Hicks was named White House communications director in September, but was on Trump’s staff from the beginning of his presidency.
- Another communications aide, Josh Raffel, said Tuesday he would resign.
- A top technology aide, Reed Cordish, said earlier this month he would leave.
- Staff Secretary Rob Porter resigned earlier this month after reports that he had been accused of domestic violence by two ex-wives.
- Hicks told the panel that if Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, had gone through the same level of background checks as other Trump campaign aides, he never would have gotten the campaign’s top job, a House official familiar with the testimony said.
Hope Hicks just testified before the House Intelligence Committee — here's why she's such an important witness in the Russia investigation
- But when she appeared before the House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday, she reportedly refused to give them answers to a number of questions about her role on Trump's transition team and in the White House, mimicking former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon's refusal to give up information.
- While it is unclear what exactly investigators asked Hicks, their questions were likely related to a couple of standout events she took part in during the campaign and during Trump's presidency.
- Hicks was also in Trump's company while he and policy adviser Stephen Miller wrote a letter explaining the administration's reasoning for firing former FBI director James Comey, which was later withheld from the public in favor of a different letter penned by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.