Don’t everyone rush toward the exits at once. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson isn’t the only member of the the Trump administration departing today: Trump’s personal assistant was fired for an “unspecified security issue” this morning, and Tillerson’s undersecretary was sacked after contradicting the White House’s official account of Tillerson’s exit.
John McEntee, Trump’s personal assistant, was fired and escorted off White House grounds this morning, the “Wall Street Journal” reported, citing the mysterious security issue. The firing was so abrupt that McEntee was not allowed to gather his personal belongings from his desk.
“It’s not going to be great for morale,” one Trump official said.
Just after lunchtime, CNN was reporting that McEntee, who has worked for Trump since the first months of his presidential campaign, was bounced because of a Department of Homeland Security investigation into “serious financial crimes.” White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders wouldn’t comment on the firing, but White House sources told CNN it was related to problems with McEntee’s security clearance.
The Trump re-election campaign then announced that McEntee would be joining it as “senior adviser for campaign operations.”
White House chief of staff John Kelly has complained that too many White House staffers are working with incomplete or interim security clearances; 30 sets of those credentials were stripped last month.
Separately, Steve Goldstein, the State Department undersecretary who has served as Tillerson’s spokesperson, was unanimously confirmed by the Senate and had been on the job for three months, was fired by the White House after contradicting the official White House statement about Tillerson’s departure. “The Secretary had every intention of staying because of the critical progress made in national security,” Goldstein said in a statement after Trump tweeted that CIA director Mike Pompeo would replace Tillerson as Secretary of State. “He will miss his colleagues at the Department of State and the foreign ministers he has worked with throughout the world. The secretary did not speak to the president and is unaware of the reason, but he is grateful for the opportunity to serve, and still believes strongly that public service is a noble calling.”
CBS News reported that the White House then called Goldstein to tell him he was “no longer needed.”