Sarah Sanders, Raj Shah planning to depart the White House

Two of the most visible members of the Trump administration are planning their departures, the latest sign of upheaval in a White House marked by turmoil.

Press secretary Sarah Sanders and principal deputy press secretary Raj Shah are both heading for the exits, according to sources inside the White House and close to the administration. Sanders, who has become a confidante of President Trump since the departure of former communications director Hope Hicks, has told friends that she plans to leave the administration at the end of the year.

Shah is also considering his exit, but he has not yet settled on an exact date. Neither Sanders nor Shah responded to repeated requests for comment before this story was published. When reached Wednesday evening, both declined to comment on the record, and Sanders tweeted that she is “honored to work for @POTUS.”  Several other lower-level positions in the communications department left vacant in recent weeks are likely to remain unfilled, with more departures expected in the coming weeks, according to a former official.

Numerous staffers have left the White House over the last several months, some voluntarily and others having been forced out. Those departures include Hicks; Jared Kushner’s top communications aide, Josh Raffel; homeland security adviser Tom Bossert; National Security Council spokesman Michael Anton; Trump personal aide John McEntee; director of White House message strategy Cliff Simms; communications aide Steven Cheung; congressional communications director Kaelan Dorr; assistant press secretary Natalie Strom; and deputy director of media affairs Tyler Ross.

Over the course of the Trump administration, the White House has consolidated its workforce, eliminating jobs and assigning multiple portfolios of responsibility to individual staffers. Some positions have never been filled. Despite the smaller number of positions, the record-setting turnover rate has not slowed. Less than halfway through Mr. Trump’s term, the turnover rate stands at 51 percent, according to the Brookings Institution. Turnover during Mr. Trump’s first year in office was 34 percent — nearly four times higher than turnover during the first year of the Obama administration.

“There will be even more people leaving the White House sooner rather than later, laid off or just leaving out of exhaustion. And it is going to be harder to find good people to replace them,” a source close to the administration told CBS News. “I do think they’re going to have a harder time getting the second wave of people in than the first, because those people were loyalists, and [new] folks will have to be recruited and encouraged and then survive the vetting process. In addition to all of that, the president prefers to have a small communications staff.”

Kathryn Dunn Tenpas, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution who has studied turnover dating back to the Reagan administration, published a report that tracks senior-level departures of the Trump administration compared to previous presidencies. She told CBS News that the sheer number of top-level exits indicates a troubling inconsistency in the ranks of those who see the president on a regular basis.

If the White House were a private-sector business, Tenpas said the level of turnover among senior staffers would result in the “stock and shareholders … going nuts.”

The White House has been plagued by leaks that have infuriated top White House officials, including one about communications aide Kelly Sadler making an insulting joke about Arizona Sen. John McCain, who is suffering from brain cancer. The incident spawned an Oval Office meeting with Sadler and senior communications aide Mercedes Schlapp that ended in recriminations and expletives over leaking. Many staffers have described the White House as a dysfunctional and toxic place to work. Sadler, too, recently left the White House.

“So many people haven’t even stayed in these jobs to master the learning curve,” Tenpas told CBS News. “You don’t hear much about the importance of expertise. This is a White House that doesn’t seem to value that or understand the consequences of it. It’s kind of one of those things where we may not know the vulnerability of lacking expertise unless there is a crisis — or a crisis that may have been averted had a person been in the room.”

Sources close to the administration fear that while Mr. Trump has been able to bring in a handful of senior, high-profile replacements like national security adviser John Bolton, National Economic Council director Larry Kudlow and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, there aren’t many more qualified people willing to sign up for such an unpredictable high-wire job.

“Nobody wants to come in,” a source close to the administration said. “So they’ve gone through two rounds and now they’re at third tier of people who are just lucking out — battlefield promotion ends up promoting people who aren’t qualified for the position.”

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Sarah Sanders was asked if Trump recognizes real reason NFL players demonstrate. It was a mess.

“I would be happy to answer if you would stop talking.”
Aaron Rupar Jun 5, 2018, 4:37 pm
The day after President Trump abruptly canceled the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles’ visit to the White House, Press Secretary Sarah Sanders was confronted about whether Trump understands why NFL players began demonstrating during the national anthem during the first place.  “Is the president aware that this was about police-involved shootings, and not about disrespecting the flag?” reporter April Ryan asked Sanders toward the end of Tuesday’s briefing — one in which Sanders repeatedly tried to pin blame for the last-minute cancellation on the Eagles.  Fox News uses pictures of Eagles players praying to pretend they were kneeling for national anthem
“There’s a underlying issue that just keeps going about disrespect of the flag,” Ryan began. “There are black and brown soldiers that fight in the military as well who feel that taking a knee, bringing attention to police-involved shootings, is something this White House should deal with. Is the president aware that taking a knee is about police-involved shootings?”  Sanders got testy.  “The president has made his position crystal clear,” Sanders said. Ryan then tried to interject, but Sanders admonished her.

“I let you rudely interrupt me and your colleague, I’m going to ask that you allow me to finish my answer,” she said. “I would be happy to answer if you would stop talking long enough to let me do that.”  Sanders immediately pivoted to talking about why Trump thinks it’s important to stand for the national anthem — ignoring that not a single Eagles player kneeled for it during the 2017 season — while completely ignoring Ryan’s question.  “The president has made his position crystal clear on this topic,” Sanders said. “He feels strongly that standing for our national anthem is something that we should do, something that matters to what makes our country special and unique and what sets us apart. He’s not going to waver on that, he’s not going to apologize for it, and frankly, more than 70 percent of Americans agree with him on that matter. If you go back to what the original intent was, this has been made a political argument, of which the president is not going to back down from, and he’s been clear on it.”  Sanders ignored Ryan’s subsequent attempts to ask whether Trump acknowledges the problem with police-involved shootings of black people, and moved on to another reporter.

Shortly after the briefing ended, the White House held the “Celebration for America” that took place instead of the previously scheduled event with the Eagles. During it, Trump appeared to struggle with the lyrics to “Good Bless America.”  Tuesday wasn’t the first time Ryan has flummoxed Sanders with a question about Trump’s response (or lack thereof) to police shootings of black people.  In March, Ryan asked Sanders if Trump had anything to say about news that two white Baton Rouge police officers who shot and killed a black man named Alton Sterling while he was pinned down would not be charged. Sanders replied with a word salad about how the Sterling case was “a local matter and something that we feel should be left up to the local authorities at this point in time.”  Sanders tried to justify Trump saying nothing about police shootings of black men. It made no sense.
Asked later during that briefing about Trump’s lack of leadership on the issue of tensions between police and communities of color, Sanders quickly changed the topic to how Trump wants to “grow the economy for everybody.”

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Senator Sanders, Rep Pocan introduce bill to Restore Workers’ Rights

Posted on May 9, 2018 by postal
WASHINGTON, May 9, 2018 – With public support for unions at 61 percent, the highest in 15 years, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) and their colleagues in the Senate and House introduced legislation Wednesday that would strengthen the middle class by restoring workers’ rights to bargain for better wages, benefits and working conditions. The legislation has been endorsed by virtually every major union in America.
Unions lead to higher wages, better benefits and a more secure retirement. Union workers earn 26 percent more, on average, than non-union workers. Union workers are also half as likely to be victims of health and safety violations or of wage theft, 18 percent more likely to have health coverage, and 23 percent more likely to have either an employer sponsored pension or 401(k).
However, the rights of workers to join together and bargain for better wages, benefits, and working conditions have been severely undermined. Sixty years ago, nearly a third of all workers belonged to a union. Today, that number has gone down to less than 11 percent. When workers become interested in forming unions, 75 percent of private-sector employers hire outside consultants to run anti-union campaigns. An employee who engages in union organizing campaigns has a one in five chance of getting fired.
“We must no longer tolerate CEOs and managers who intimidate, threaten or fire pro-union workers, who threaten to move plants to China if their workers vote in favor of a union, and who refuse to negotiate a first contract with workers who have voted to join unions,” Sanders said. “If we are serious about reducing income and wealth inequality and rebuilding the middle class, we have got to substantially increase the number of union jobs in this country.”
“Republicans like President Trump and Governor Walker continue to crack down on unions and push a special interest, corporate-driven agenda that makes it harder for middle class families to get ahead. And while they stack the deck against the American worker, unions are fighting to expand economic opportunity and strengthen the middle class,” said Pocan. “The Workplace Democracy Act restores real bargaining rights to workers and repeals the right to work laws like those that Governor Walker has used to undercut American workers. I’m proud to introduce this legislation with Senator Sanders and stand up for the millions of middle class families who are under attack by Republican leaders.”
The Workplace Democracy Act would make it easier for workers to join unions in a number of ways.
It would end right to work for less laws by repealing Section 14(b) of the Taft Hartley Act, which has allowed 28 states to pass legislation eliminating the ability of unions to collect fair share fees from those who benefit from union contracts and activities.
Under the legislation, when a majority of workers in a bargaining unit sign valid authorization cards to join a union, they must have a union. Companies would not be allowed to deny or delay a first contract with workers who have voted to join a union. Unions would be given the right to have their voice heard through secondary boycotts and picketing. And workers would have the right to know when their company spends millions of dollars running anti-union campaigns.
The bill would also stop employers from ruthlessly exploiting workers by misclassifying them as independent contractors or denying them overtime by falsely categorizing them as a “supervisor.”
“When workers’ rights to collective bargaining are attacked and undermined, corporations have enormous power over their workers and can keep wages so low that even full-time employees are still living in poverty,” said Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.). “That is not how our economy is supposed to work. We need to start rewarding work again in this country, and that means making sure every worker has the right to join together to fight for the pay and protections they deserve. I am proud to fight for this important legislation with Senator Sanders, and I urge all of my colleagues in the Senate to join us in standing up for our workers.”
The bill is cosponsored in the Senate by Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Edward Markey (D-Mass.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.). Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) introduced the bill with Pocan in the House.

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Sanders rips Vanity Fair over Kelly report: I wouldn’t use it for much other than a coaster

By Brett Samuels – 01/23/18 10:54 AM EST

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Tuesday morning ripped Vanity Fair for a report that the relationship between President Trump and chief of staff John Kelly was strained.

“Look, I would not use Vanity Fair for much other than a coaster. I don’t think it is a reliable source of information, and certainly not on this topic,” Sanders said on “Fox & Friends.”

Sanders added that Kelly plans to be part of the administration “for the long haul.”

Trump in a tweet on Tuesday also backed Kelly, saying he’s “doing a fantastic job.”

Vanity Fair in a report published Monday said Trump’s relationship with Kelly “may have finally gone past the point of no return” and that a search for a replacement was in the works.Kelly reportedly angered the president last week when he told a group of Democratic lawmakers that Trump’s campaign rhetoric about immigration — including his promise to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border — was “uninformed.” Kelly said in a later interview that Trump had “evolved.”

Trump later pushed back on his chief of staff, tweeting that his vision of a border wall has never “changed or evolved.”

Kelly has been chief of staff since August, following the departure of Reince Priebus. There have been frequent reports of tension between Kelly and Trump in the months since.

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