We know Donald Trump has ousted Secretary of State Rex Tillerson from the cabinet. There's still some question, however, about how and why.
According to the White House, Tillerson was notified late last week about his fate. According to the State Department, that's not true. Indeed, NBC News' Andrea Mitchell reports that Tillerson didn't learn about his firing until he saw Donald Trump's tweet this morning.
It's enough to make one wonder if yesterday's disagreement between Tillerson and the White House over Russia had something to do with the developments.
Complicating matters, this may not be the most unusual personnel news out of Trump World today. The Wall Street Journal reports:
President Donald Trump's personal assistant, John McEntee, was escorted out of the White House on Monday, two senior administration officials said. The cause of the firing was an unspecified security issue, said a third White House official with knowledge of the situation. [...]Mr. McEntee wasn't as well known as the others, but had been a constant presence at Mr. Trump's side for the past three years. He made sure Mr. Trump had markers to sign autographs, delivered messages to him in the White House residence and, over the weekend, ensured that the clocks in the White House residence were adjusted for daylight-saving time.
In other words, McEntee was Trump's "body man." If you watched "The West Wing" television show, McEntee was Charlie. (Or, for "Veep" fans, he was Gary.)
According to the WSJ's piece, McEntee was removed from the White House grounds yesterday "without being allowed to collect his belongings." Indeed, he "left without his jacket."
Well, that certainly sounds serious. But CNN reported that almost immediately after McEntee was removed from the White House, he joined Trump's re-election campaign team "as a senior adviser for campaign operations."
So let me get this straight. McEntee's "security issue" was serious enough that he had to be escorted from the White House complex without his belongings, but he could still get a good job on the president's campaign team?
I feel like we're not getting the whole story here.
And on that note, this seems like a good time to update the list of prominent Trump World departures:
Cabinet: HHS Secretary Tom Price, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson
West Wing: Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, Deputy Chief of Staff Katie Walsh, Deputy Chief of Staff Rick Dearborn, National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn, Director of Public Liaison George Sifakis, Office of Public Liaison Communications Director Omarosa Manigault, Staff Secretary Rob Porter, Deputy Assistant to the President Sean Cairncross, Chief Usher Angella Reid, Assistant to the President Reed Cordish, Personal Assistant to the President John McEntee Deputy Chief of Staff Jim Carroll (who’s leaving his post to become the “drug czar”)
White House Communications: Press Secretary Sean Spicer, Assistant Press Secretary Michael Short, Communications Director #1 Mike Dubke, Communications Director #2 Anthony Scaramucci, Communications Director #3 Hope Hicks, Rapid Response Director Andy Hemming, Speechwriter David Sorensen, Senior Communications Official Josh Raffel
National Security team: National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, Deputy National Security Advisor K.T. McFarland, Deputy National Security Advisor Dina Powell, Advisor to the National Security Council Monica Crowley, Director for intelligence programs at the National Security Council Ezra Cohen-Watnick, Deputy Chief of Staff at the National Security Council Tera Dahl, Director Of Strategic Planning at the National Security Council Rich Higgins, NSC Middle East Advisor Derek Harvey, U.S. diplomat overseeing North Korea policy Joseph Yun, Senior Advisor to the Defense Secretary Sally Donnelly, Homeland Security Deputy Secretary Elaine Duke
The self-identified “nationalist” wing: Chief White House Strategist Steve Bannon, National Security Aide Sebastian Gorka
Justice Department: Acting U.S. Attorney General Sally Yates, FBI Director James Comey, Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Mary McCord, FBI Assistant Director Mike Kortan, Justice Department’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section chief David Laufman, Associate Attorney General Rachel Brand, dozens of U.S. Attorneys
Office of the Vice President: Chief of Staff Josh Pitcock, Press Secretary Marc Lotter, Chief Counsel Mark Paoletta, Domestic Policy Director Daris Meeks
A cavalcade of others that includes CDC Director Brenda Fitzgerald, National Economic Council Deputy Director Jeremy Katz, Domestic Policy Council Deputy Director Paul Winfree; Director of Office of Government Ethics Walter Shaub, Department of Energy Office of Indian Energy Director William Bradford, Department of Homeland Security Faith-Based Director Jamie Johnson, Corporation for National and Community Service Chief of External Affairs Carl Higbie, Office of Drug Control Policy Deputy Chief of Staff Taylor Weyeneth, Trump legal team spokesperson Mark Corallo, EPA Office of Science and Technology Director Elizabeth Southerland, State Department Counselor Maliz Beams, State Department Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Thomas Shannon, Ambassador to Panama John Feeley, Ambassador to Mexico Roberta Jacobson, National Economic Council adviser George David Banks, Federal Railroad Administration’s acting chief Heath Hall, U.S. Forest Service Chief Tony Tooke, and Carl Icahn, who served as a special adviser to the president on regulatory reform.
As we discussed a while back, this does not include a variety of people the president nominated for prominent administrative posts – including some cabinet positions – who ultimately withdrew in the face of assorted controversies.