A Trump administration staffer who exposed former EPA chief Scott Pruitt's corruption slammed the former president in a new interview about how his life has fallen apart since he became a federal government whistleblower.
Kevin Chmielewski, who now manages a small golf-course restaurant in Maryland and drives for Uber to make ends meet, told Rolling Stone he "doesn't regret blowing the whistle" and has "long since grown disillusioned with Trump and his cronies."
"We made the swamp bigger and put bigger creatures in there," Chmielewski told the magazine. "I wasn't going to be one of those creatures."
In 2015, Trump hired Chmielewski as an "advance man" — one of the campaign staffers "in suits and earpieces who map out every trip, drive the candidate from event to event, and protect him as he walks through a crowd," Rolling Stone reports.
Chmielewski had previously served in similar roles for George W. Bush and Mitt Romney.
"It was while working for Romney that Chmielewski met Trump. According to Chmielewski, Trump turned to Corey Lewandowski a few months before launching his own presidential bid in 2015 and asked, 'Who was that Polack that used to work for Romney? He was a good guy.'"
For the next 18 months, Chmielewski "planned Trump's trips, safeguarded his cellphone, fetched his McDonald's (two Big Macs and two Fish Filets with fries), and delivered the voice-of-God announcement that signaled Trump's entrance at campaign rallies: 'Please welcome the next president of the United States, Donald J. Trump!'"
Chmielewski also fended off a protester who rushed a stage, guided Trump's motorcade through a violent crowd, and grew close with Trump's children.
"I don't stick up for Trump or the Trumps that much," Chmielewski told Rolling Stone. "But Ivanka, to the staff, was incredible. Jared was helpful and pleasant, would never ask for anything. They were very easy to work for."
Following Trump's victory in 2016, Chmielewski initially joined the Department of Homeland Security, but White House officials later moved him to the EPA — reportedly because they wanted him to keep an eye on Pruitt.
"Pruitt was 'a knucklehead,' Chmielewski remembers Trump telling him," according to Rolling Stone. "'He's doing a lot of stuff we don't agree with,' a White House official told him. 'We need one of our guys' to rein him in."
But when Chmielewski began to report Pruitt's "cartoonishly corrupt" behavior to top administration officials, "it felt like his White House contacts and other Trump pals weren't all that interested in the issues he was raising."
"Maybe his disclosures got lost in the day-to-day chaos of the Trump administration; maybe the White House really didn't want to know about Pruitt's wrongdoing. Plausible deniability," according to Rolling Stone.
Pruitt was eventually fired and "removed from the EPA building by an armed security guard."
"His friends from the Trump White House won't return his calls and texts," Rolling Stone reported. "No Republican campaign will hire him, he says. When he sought protection under a federal whistleblower statute, he learned that as a political appointee he fell into a legal loophole. He then sued the EPA, saying the agency had violated his First Amendment free-speech rights as a citizen whistleblower. The lawyers for the Trump administration fought his case, only for the Biden administration to pick up where the Trump-era lawyers left off."
After Pruitt resigned, Chmielewski hoped to rejoin the Trump administration in 2020. A friend from the 2016 campaign, Johnny McEntee, tried to help him, finding a position in the Department of Energy, which said it planned to hire him.
"But when McEntee tried to finalize Chmielewski's paperwork, someone blocked it," Rolling Stone reported. "Chmielewski suspects advisers close to Trump had blacklisted him. 'There's nothing I can do,' Chmielewski says McEntee told him. 'My hands are tied because the job has been rescinded.'"