The consequence of a restaurant simply asking Donald Trump’s press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Smith, to leave got violent. No, the anti-Trump protesters were peaceful. It was a Trump cult followers who was arrested.
Police arrested one man outside of The Red Hen restaurant in Lexington, Virginia for throwing something disgusting at the building. All that the people who worked for their living in the small diner did was follow their own convictions.
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.”
“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.”