According to a report from Politico, a senior White House official slated to take a high profile position overseeing domestic policy had his appointment derailed by a furious response on Twitter from extremist conservatives questioning his bonafides.
The report notes that Derek Lyons was on the verge of being announced as President Donald Trump’s next top domestic policy adviser before having the rug pulled out from him and seeing the job suddenly go to Brooke Rollins.
According to Politico’s Anita Kumar and Daniel Lippman, “The abrupt shuffle at the Domestic Policy Council was the result of several typical Trump-era factors: an announcement that got out early, conservative anger and differing internal messages.”
“Nothing’s done until it’s done, and that’s always been true in Trump world and this is yet another of many examples,” explained a person close to the White House.
Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, floated several people for the role, including both Lyons and Rollins. Newly installed chief of staff Mark Meadows floated his own name, Stephen Miller, an influential immigration policy aide. It was expected that the domestic policy chief would play a significant role in the president’s efforts to reopen the country amid the coronavirus pandemic,” the report notes. “After several days of deliberations, it appeared Kushner and Meadows had selected Lyons to serve as acting DPC director for the rest of Trump’s term, while continuing in his current role as White House staff secretary, a key official who manages document flow to the president.”
However, after a Politico report noted the upcoming announcement, it set off a furor among conservative hardliners about Lyons association with former Florida Governor Jeb Bush.
“Lyons, a lawyer and Harvard Law School grad, started his career as a law clerk to Brett Kavanaugh when the Supreme Court justice was still a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals. He later worked on Capitol Hill,” the report continues. “But it was his time with Jeb Bush’s campaign that made some conservatives suspicious. His affiliation with Kushner also raised some eyebrows, given that Trump’s son-in-law has pushed for some more moderate policies, including business-friendly immigration changes that hardliners say are too lenient.”
That announcement set off anti-immigration gadfly Michelle Malkin who tweeted out, “This is not what #AmericaFirst voters signed up for,” along with the hashtag, “#JaredKushnerIsNotMyPresident..”
Conservative writer and political consultant Ryan Girdusky, piled on, tweeting, “Trump has picked Derek Lyons as the head of the Domestic Policy Council…- he’s a former Jeb! Person.”
The report notes that the outside criticism set off alarms in the White House that eventually led to Lyons being skipped over.
“A White House official said Meadows received praise internally about Lyons but some in the White House worried that criticism from influential conservative pundits, such as Ann Coulter and Tucker Carlson of Fox News, would soon follow,” the report states. “There was another problem that arose during deliberations: Meadows and Kushner had yet to have Trump sign off on Lyons’ appointment when the news broke, according to two White House officials. The White House official said Lyons and Rollins were finalists for the job, but the job ultimately went to Rollins in part because she would be able to appear on television as part of ‘the public facing role’ of DPC director.”
“By the end of the week Rollins had been tapped to head the DPC in an acting capacity,” the report notes before adding, “Lyons was elevated to the title of counselor, making him one of the closest advisers to the president alongside Hope Hicks and Kellyanne Conway, who have similar titles, although Conway is senior counselor. The move was seen internally by some as a face-saving measure and by others as a Kushner attempt to diminish Conway’s status.”
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