Three more members of Trump’s inner circle are parting ways with the Trump administration this week. The POTUS fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and had his assistant, John McEntee, removed for an unknown security issue. Both firings surprised Republicans, as the two were considered by many to be Trump’s closest allies. Tillerson reports feeling “blindsided” by the move, while the POTUS indicated that McEntee will be moving on to help with the 2020 campaign. Today, Trump fired Steve Goldstein, Tillerson’s top aide.
• White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee-Sanders refused to comment on the firings when questioned by the press. Talking specifically, about McEntee, she indicated that White House administrators “don’t comment on personnel issues.”
• McEntee is perhaps the most surprising because he is Trump’s longest-standing personal aide. The assistant first came on early in the POTUS’s campaign and has remained by his side throughout.
• Tillerson’s firing is less startling; there has been speculation over whether or not he would be fired for months now. Trump’s relationship with the Secretary of State has been increasingly strained.
• CIA director Mike Pompeo will take Tillerson’s place at the helm, working closely with the POTUS for the foreseeable future. Pompeo hasn’t yet stepped into the role, but is expected to do so within the next two to three weeks.
• One White House source reported that McEntee was forcibly removed from the White House without being allowed to collect his belongings, including his jacket. Other sources close to the man reveal the security issue was related to his security clearance and background check. It wasn’t immediately clear what issue, if any, they were alluding to.
• Many of the most recent firings have to do with adjustments to the government’s screening process. A few months ago, Chief of Staff John Kelly modified the security clearance policy for stricter prevention of access to White House jobs. His goal was to tighten up access to provide the Trump administration with better security.
• Kelly’s original decision to alter the clearance policy stems from an investigation that revealed serious flaws in the White House hiring process. These issues included leaving many workers on temporary interim clearance for as long as nearly a year.; McEntee likely suffered the same fate as others who had not been properly cleared until recent weeks.
• Goldstein’s removal is reportedly tied directly to his response to Tillerson’s dismissal. The aide made statements that suggest Tillerson made no remarks about leaving, and was given no warning about being let go.
• At this point, it is unclear whether Tillerson knew of the pending dismissal and found out through Twitter, or if he was given notice previous to the tweet.
• McEntee won’t be leaving Trump’s service entirely. He will now move to working on the 2020 campaign.