March 21, 2018
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17 in ’17: The most controversial staff departures from Trump’s White House

Brynn Anderson | AP
Brynn Anderson | AP
Former White House strategist Steve Bannon is seen speaking in support of U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore during a Dec. 11, 2017, campaign rally in Midland City, Alabama. His was one of many high-profile departures from the Trump White House this year.
By Anita Kumar, Ben Wieder and the McClatchy Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON — Almost from the first day, President Donald Trump’s top aides began to depart — many of them not by choice.

Trump announced on Twitter that he had ousted Reince Priebus while the two men were sitting aboard Air Force One on the tarmac, leaving the chief of staff to step off the plane alone.

Combative and widely ridiculed press secretary Sean Spicer resigned in protest over the hiring of another aide. And Omarosa Manigault-Newman, a breakout star of Trump’s TV show “The Apprentice,” was reportedly escorted off White House grounds after her bosses grew frustrated with her headline-grabbing antics.

And these were just a few of the many staffers who left the administration during the chaotic first year of the Trump presidency.

Here are the 17 most contentious departures of the Trump administration in 2017:

1. Acting Attorney General Sally Yates, an Obama administration holdover who was to serve until Trump’s nominee was installed, was fired Jan. 30, just 10 days into the new term, after she refused to defend the administration’s new policy to ban immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries.

2. National security adviser Michael Flynn was let go Feb. 13 for lying to Vice President Mike Pence and others about conversations with the Russian ambassador to the United States. He pleaded guilty in December to lying to the FBI about those contacts.

3. Boris Epshteyn, assistant communications director for surrogate operations, was dismissed in late March, according to several people familiar with the situation but not authorized to speak publicly. Republicans complain he failed to book members of Congress, Cabinet secretaries and party strategists on TV and regain control over the many critical Trump headlines.

4. K.T. McFarland, deputy national security adviser, was fired in early April after H.R. McMaster took over for Flynn. She was nominated to be ambassador to Singapore, but her confirmation is on hold because of questions about her involvement with Flynn’s contacts with Russia.

5. Angella Reid, the first female usher in White House history, was abruptly dismissed May 5 and replaced by a former employee of the Trump International Hotel in Washington.

6. Within days of firing James Comey on May 9, Trump told NBC’s Lester Holt that “this Russia thing” was on his mind as he dismissed his FBI director. Comey later said his dismissal came after he refused to stop investigating whether Russia had colluded with Trump’s campaign during the presidential race.

7. A Washington insider who never found his West Wing faction, Mike Dubke quit as communications director in late May.

8. Walter Shaub, director of the Office of Government Ethics, resigned July 6 after months of public clashes with the Trump administration over its ethics policies.

9. Spicer, who served as Trump’s first press secretary and regularly made false statements to the media, resigned July 21 after Trump hired Anthony Scaramucci as communications director.

10. Trump fired Priebus July 27 after the chief of staff was unable to impose order in a White House besieged by leaks, scandals and an undisciplined president.

11. Rich Higgins was ousted in late July after authoring a controversial memo in May arguing that the media, the “deep state” and others were conspiring against the president.

12. Scaramucci served just a handful of days as communications director before he was ousted July 31 after he blasted top White House officials in an expletive-laden media interview. New chief of staff John Kelly fired him on his first day, a mere 10 days after Scaramucci was hired, making him the shortest-serving communications director in White House history.

13. Trump fired controversial chief strategist Steve Bannon — the driving force behind Trump’s nationalist ideology — Aug. 21 days after he was quoted in an interview bad-mouthing his colleagues and breaking with Trump policy positions. The two men remain close.

14. Sebastian Gorka, deputy assistant to the president and a foreign policy adviser, was shown the door in late August as part of an exodus of hard-right advisers. Gorka insisted he voluntarily left the White House because he was unhappy with the direction of Trump’s administration.

15. Trump’s longtime bodyguard Keith Schiller quit Sept. 20 out of frustration with his limited access to the president after Kelly took over as chief of staff and with his reduced pay working in the White House rather than the Trump Organization.

16. Tom Price, the secretary of Health and Human Services, resigned Sept. 29 amid criticism about his use of taxpayer-funded travel on charter flights to the tune of more than $400,000.

17. Manigault-Newman, the former Apprentice contestant-turned White House adviser fired Dec. 12, supposedly didn’t leave without a fight, with reports that she had to be physically removed from the White House.

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