Over the course of the last year, President Donald Trump has burned through staff and advisors quickly. In a mere 11 months, 31 staffers or aides have bailed or been canned, so far.
Some, like former ethics director Walter Shaub and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau head Richard Cordray left because they couldn’t, in good conscience, continue to contribute to an administration intent on burning down critical institutions and policies in the U.S. government. Others, like former acting Attorney General Sally Yates, James Comey and U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, refused to compromise their own ethics to do the bidding of the president.
Yesterday, Gary Cohn announced that he would be leaving the White House after getting everything he wanted out of the GOP’s tax bill. He’s likely headed back to Wall Street to reap the benefits of the corporate-friendly legislation he helped author.
But many other members of the Trump administration had their careers eaten by their boss. This is the “In Memoriam” for those lost to the almighty presidential ego.
UPDATE: As were were publishing this story, the public received word that Trump’s Deputy Chief of Staff Rick Dearborn also resigned. Paul Winfree, Trump’s Deputy Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council and Director of Budget Policy also decided to make an exit.
1. Michael Flynn
One of the first to go, retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn had the distinction of being one of the only generals in history to be fired by two different presidents of two conflicting parties. Now headed to prison after a plea deal for “lying to the FBI,” Flynn is in control of the chickens coming home to roost for the president and his family. The hiring of Flynn already has humiliated the White House, but now it might be one of the ways special counsel Robert Mueller is able to indict those at the highest levels of government.
2. Derek Harvey
When Derek Harvey was booted from Trump’s National Security Council, the right wing fumed with disapproval claiming he was one of the “smartest minds” on Iraq. But, H.R. McMaster was not a fan, particularly given the fact that he was one of Flynn’s far-right allies thought to be leaking and undermining McMaster behind the scenes. After Flynn’s exist, McMaster purged almost all of the people he assembled for the NSC.
3. K.T. McFarland
With the release of a series of emails talking about the Russia meeting with top Trump aides and family members, K.T. McFarland’s testimony that Flynn acted alone is now suspect. The former Fox News military analyst served on the Trump transition and was then appointed to serve as former deputy national security adviser. That position didn’t last long, once again, thanks to Flynn. After her purge, she was appointed to be an ambassador to Singapore, but now that is stalled in wake of possible lies about her own involvement.
4. Reince Priebus and Katie Walsh
Trump’s former chief of staff and deputy chief of staff were part of the establishment in the GOP. It isn’t surprising their careers were annihilated by a president intent on worshiping the alt-right. Anyone seen as part of the “deep state” was an enemy to counselor to the president Steve Bannon and deputy assistant Sebastian Gorka. There was no way the two contrasting ideologies were going to last. With a coordinated battle attack from the far right through websites and on social media, Priebus and his deputy were dropped fast. The former Republican Party director is officially the enemy of the base. Now he’ll have no choice but to find a high-paid private sector job and secure a book deal.
5. Sean Spicer
No one, other than Trump himself, has been ridiculed more than Sean Spicer. His willingness to completely abandon his principles along with his dignity prompted “Saturday Night Live” to create one of the best caricatures in the show’s history. The combative press secretary became a national joke, and the fact that he was played by a woman on SNL reportedly bothered Trump. He was first forced to take over after communications director were ousted, but he too got the boot. The Trumps were awful to Spicer. Even though he willingly sacrificed his dignity on the alter of duty to Trump, the president refused to allow the devout Catholic attend the meeting with Pope Francis.
In wake of his final day, Spicer has attempted to try and regain some sense of self-respect by kidding around about his famous “biggest crowd in history, PERIOD” at the Oscars. It didn’t work.
6. Ezra Cohen-Watnick
No one knew who he was or what his experience was when it came to his position as Senior Director for Intelligence Programs. McMaster worked to kick him off the intelligence team in March, but as The Atlantic reported, Trump, “at the urging of Bannon and Jared Kushner, told McMaster that Cohen-Watnick was staying.” His loyalty got him the job and kept it for a while. In August he “left.”
“He has determined that, at this time, a different set of experiences is best-suited to carrying that work forward,” a White House official said. Now he works at Oracle, though the company refused to confirm it.
7. Michael Dubke, Michael Short and Andrew Hemming
Michael Dubke was the first communications director for Trump. It was short lived. With rumors of a major staff shakeup, Dubke decided to abandon ship before it could suck him down with it. For a while, Spicer covered his position. Then Anthony Scaramucci was hired. That didn’t last long either.
Press aide Michael Short soon followed with his resignation when he heard Scaramucci was going to fire him.
Rapid response director Andrew Hemming was another former RNC staffer that didn’t mesh well with the anti-establishment staffers in the West Wing. The White House comment was that the decision for Hemming to leave was “mutual.”
8. Anthony Scaramucci
One of the shortest White House jobs in history, lasting only 10 days. He was forced to divest from his hedge fund SkyBridge Capital, his wife, who hated Trump, left him and he missed the birth of his son due to his boss’s selfishness. The short-lived White House career certainly left the country laughing and problems have plagued him since.
9. Tera Dahl
Another of the far-right’s loves cut by McMaster. Dahl is a former Breitbart writer and friend of Bannon. Dahl was one of the Trump campaign staffers who offered a “readout” about Carter Page’s trip to Moscow. Page told her he would send a memo “regarding some incredible insights and outreach I’ve received form a few Russian legislators and senior members of the presidential administration.” She was ousted in the McMaster purge too.
10. Steve Bannon and Sebastian Gorka
If Trump wanted a general as his chief of staff, there was no way Bannon and Gorka would continue. Gorka didn’t have an easy start to begin with. Bannon had more of Trump’s trust after hooking up the president with his data friends and funders during the 2016 campaign. But trust began to errode once Trump learned that Bannon duped him into signing an executive order to put the Breitbart CEO in charge of the national security council.
11. Tom Price
Arguably one of the more humiliating forced resignations was Tom Price. He was canned after spending a bundle in taxpayer dollars for his own private fancy travel instead of being a good steward of America’s money. Price is hardly the only one scoring sweetheart deals on utilizing military jets and private jets to bounce around. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke keeps getting caught overspending. Yet, he still remains. Price was forced to resign.
12. Rich Higgins
Yet another national security advisor cut by McMaster. He made the mistake of authoring a controversial memo that embraced a series of conspiracy theories to explain the difficulties that Trump was experiencing trying to get his policy agenda passed.
“Higgins’s memo describes supposed domestic and international threats to Trump’s presidency, including globalists, bankers, the ‘deep state,’ and Islamists,” The Atlantic wrote at the time. “The memo characterizes the Russia story as a plot to sabotage Trump’s nationalist agenda. It asserts that globalists and Islamists are seeking to destroy America.”
Even more than a week after Omarosa Manigault-Newman’s security card was deactivated, no one has any idea what she did there. When reporters shadowed her, they discovered she spend a lot of time walking around giving positive affirmations to staffers and planning her wedding. Conservative African-Americans in Washington had horrific stories of the former reality star blocking other black conservatives from working at the White House or even participating in the outreach. Trump reportedly didn’t even know she was fired until it was seen on television. In the aftermath, Omarosa spent a lot of time bashing the White House — which prompted them to tell other conservatives they were allowed to “take the gloves off” and tell the truth about her.
Any White House job is hectic and stressful. It’s the most important office representing the free world and those who have worked in positions typically understand the rare opportunity to make a difference for Americans. The instability that has overwhelmed this administration doesn’t seem like what most signed up for. Perhaps that’s why they’re still so understaffed.