Trump’s personnel chief hired influencers — then targeted government aide for liking Taylor Swift post: new book
White House

Donald Trump's personnel chief hired "comically inexperienced" aides to help him carry out a White House purge in the final months of the administration, according to a new book.

Former college quarterback Johnny McEntee took over White House staffing in January 2020, over the objections of other administration officials and despite being previously fired over undisclosed gambling, after assuring Trump he would root out "deep state" traitors in the federal government, according to Jonathan Karl's new book, "Betrayal: The Final Act of the Trump Show," republished in excerpt form by The Atlantic.

"McEntee's underlings were, for the most part, comically inexperienced," wrote Karl, the chief Washington correspondent for ABC News. "He had staffed his office with very young Trump activists. He had hired his friends, and he had hired young women — as one senior official in the West Wing put it to me, 'the most beautiful 21-year-old girls you could find, and guys who would be absolutely no threat to Johnny in going after those girls.'"

"It was the Rockettes and the Dungeons & Dragons group," the official said.

One hire literally was a Rockette whose only other work experience listed on her résumé was a White House internship and her job as a dance instructor, and he also hired Instagram influencers, including 20-year-old college student Camryn Kinsey, who McEntee hired as external-relations director.

"Only in Trump's America could I go from working in a gym to working in the White House, because that's the American dream," said Kinsey, who joined the pro-Trump One American News Network after the administration ended.

McEntee's team questioned officials up and down the administration looking for signs of disloyalty, and they scrutinized social media and voting records -- in one case an office assistant in the Department of Justice was denied a promotion and raise because she had voted in an open Democratic primary at the recommendation of her parents.

"In late October 2020, Donald Trump's chief of staff, Mark Meadows, was attending the confirmation hearing for Amy Coney Barrett when his cellphone rang," Karl reported. "He answered with a whisper and walked out to the hallway to take the call. What was so urgent as to pull the chief of staff out of a Supreme Court confirmation hearing just two weeks before a presidential election?"

Andrew Hughes, the chief of staff for the Department of Housing and Urban Development, was on the line because Meadows had asked him to call and discuss troubling social media activity by a young assistant in the federal agency, Karl reported.

"She had liked an Instagram post from the pop star Taylor Swift," Karl reported. "The first photo in the post was of Swift with the word vote superimposed on it in large blue letters. But a swipe revealed a second photo, of Swift carrying a tray of cookies emblazoned with the Biden-Harris campaign logo. 'We really can't have our people liking posts promoting Joe Biden,' Meadows told Hughes."