Brett McGurk, the U.S. envoy to the international coalition fighting the Islamic State, has resigned in protest of President Trump’s decision to abruptly withdraw U.S. troops from Syria.
His resignation, confirmed by a State Department official familiar with the matter, comes on the heels of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis’s announced departure this week because of differences with the White House over foreign policy, immediately following Trump’s decision. Mattis said he would stay on until February to ensure an smooth transition.
McGurk’s departure is effective December 31, an earlier exit than his intended departure in mid-February, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss a personnel matter. McGurk submitted his resignation letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday, the official said.
President Trump, who aides said has been frustrated by news coverage of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis’s scathing resignation letter, abruptly announced Sunday that he was removing Mattis two months before his planned departure and installing Patrick Shanahan as acting defense secretary.
Shanahan, a former Boeing executive who has been Mattis’s deputy at the Pentagon, will assume the top job on an acting capacity beginning Jan. 1, Trump said.
Kevin Sweeney has resigned as Pentagon chief of staff after serving the defense secretary for two years.
“I’ve decided the time is right to return to the private sector. It has been an honor to serve again alongside the men and women of the Department of Defense,” Sweeney said in a short statement posted on the Department of Defense website late Saturday night.
A knowledgeable source told CNN’s Jake Tapper that the White House forced Sweeney out. The source did not provide further information about the reason.
Moved to Day 718
Rod Rosenstein will be leaving in the next few weeks. We had been hearing that he was actively overseeing Mueller’s investigation, which was more reassuring. Acting AG Matthew Whitaker is now been overseeing this.
And coincidentally, Whitaker has been trying to delay his Congressional questioning…*
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who appointed Special Counsel Robert Mueller and oversaw his Russia election-meddling investigation for more than a year, has told President Trump he’s stepping down in the coming weeks, multiple people tell ABC News. Rosenstein reportedly never planned to serve in the Trump Justice Department for more than two years, and there’s no indiction he’s being forced out.
Rosenstein and Trump have had an at-times contentious relationship — in November, Trump retweeted a photo of Rosenstein in prison, and Rosenstein was rumored to have suggested covertly recording Trump — and there was speculation he would depart after former Attorney General Jeff Sessions was pushed out last fall. Trump elevated Matt Whitaker to acting attorney general in late November, and despite publicly questioning the Mueller investigation, Whitaker is now formally overseeing the probe until the Senate confirms his replacement; Trump has nominated fellow Mueller skeptic William Barr, and Rosenstein has reportedly told White House officials he is leaving about the time Barr is confirmed and takes office.
Rosenstein has worked in the Justice Department for decades, serving as a U.S. attorney from 2005 to 2017 and serving in various roles over the 15 years before that.
It wouldn’t surprise me if Trump shut down our government just to achieve this delay.
Kevin Sweeney was forced out, as he was too aligned w/ DOD Mattis who had just resigned.
Got him thanks!
Yes…I knew we had added him but it was previously reported that he resigned. He was fired.
Former White House Deputy press secretary Raj Shah is joining a Florida- and Washington-based lobbying firm to work on a bipartisan communications practice, the firm announced Monday.
Shah will join Ballard Partners to lead its nascent Media Group, which the firm officially announced Monday. The former White House spokesman will work with Jamie Rubin, former spokesman to Democratic Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who joined the firm last year.
Shah served in the Trump White House beginning in January 2017 as deputy assistant to the president, deputy communications director and deputy press secretary. During his White House tenure, he handled crisis communications for the White House and oversaw the administration’s efforts to confirm Justice Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. Yahoo News reported in September that Shah was planning to leave his post in the Trump White House after Kavanaugh’s confirmation.
Before his stint in the White House, Shah conducted opposition research for the Republican National Committee.
Last fall, Patenaude expressed concern over the Trump administration’s intervention in disaster-recovery money that Congress had appropriated for Puerto Rico and states hit by hurricanes.
President Trump in late September grew incensed after hearing, erroneously, that Puerto Rico was using the emergency money to pay off its debt, according to two people with direct knowledge of Trump’s thinking.
Trump told then-White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly and then-Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney that he did not want a single dollar going to Puerto Rico, because he thought the island was misusing the money and taking advantage of the government, according to a person with direct knowledge of the discussions who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe sensitive internal deliberations. Instead, he wanted more of the money to go to Texas and Florida, the person said.
“POTUS was not consolable about this,” the person said.
Patenaude told White House budget officials during an early December meeting in the Situation Room that the money had been appropriated by Congress and must be sent, according to two people with direct knowledge of the meeting. She assured them that HUD had proper oversight of the funds.
Trump Admin related departure.
A five-term Republican congressman who co-chaired Donald Trump’s successful presidential campaign in Pennsylvania is resigning.
Tom Marino said in a statement Thursday that his last day will be Jan. 23 and that he’s taking a job in the private sector.
The 66-year-old Marino is a former county and federal prosecutor who co-chaired Donald Trump’s successful presidential campaign in Pennsylvania.
He easily won re-election in November to his heavily Republican district in northern Pennsylvania.
Trump nominated Marino in 2017 to become the nation’s drug czar, but Marino withdrew his name after reports he played a key role in weakening federal power to stop companies from distributing opioids.
Marino’s survived multiple bouts of kidney cancer.
Gov. Tom Wolf must schedule a special election to fill the remainder of Marino’s term.
A voluntary resignation from A Wess Mitchell - Diplomat in charge of European Affairs in State Dept.
Top diplomat for European affairs resigns from State Department
A. Wess Mitchell, the top diplomat in charge of European affairs, will resign from the State Department next month, creating a key vacancy at a time when European leaders are questioning President Trump’s commitment to historic alliances.
Mitchell, 41, cited personal and professional reasons in a Jan. 4 letter of resignation he submitted to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. His last day as assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs will be Feb. 15.
“As the administration completes its second year in office, I feel that I have completed what I set out to do in taking this position,” he wrote, citing the development of a Europe strategy and helping Pompeo transition into the job after Rex Tillerson was fired in March.
Seems rather suspicious
A White House security specialist has been suspended without pay for defying her supervisor Carl Kline, less than a week after NBC News reported Kline approved Jared Kushner for top secret clearance over the objections of career staff.
The specialist, Tricia Newbold, had filed a discrimination complaint against Kline three months ago.
Newbold’s two-week suspension from the White House security office was for failure to supervise, failure to follow instructions and defiance of authority, according to the suspension decision notice obtained by NBC News. Security office chief Crede Bailey first proposed the suspension on Dec. 3, 2018.
This headline is hilarious
Yes, I laughed when I saw that too! It hardly could seem true or probable, given this twisted Administrations AND that Fox reporters could tell a truthful story.
The only possible(?) redeeming fact is that she worked with Shep Smith who will occasionally call out the T bs…and tell the story straight.
But I am looking at the the glass half-full scenario.
Update on that staffer who was suspended for two weeks, which ends Thursday. She has requested whistleblower protections for raising the alarm about how Kushner gained his security clearance to work in the White House.
A White House security specialist is seeking official whistleblower protection from the federal government after raising concerns about “unwarranted security clearances" for administration officials, including Jared Kushner, according to two sources familiar with the matter.
The specialist, Tricia Newbold, filed the whistleblower complaint less than two weeks after she was suspended without pay for defying her supervisor, Carl Kline.
The complaint, which was obtained by NBC News, alleges Newbold raised concerns with Kline about a security clearance for an individual as early as July 2017. The complaint does not identify the person, but sources familiar with the situation told NBC News that it was Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and adviser.
In the complaint, Newbold says Kline "repeatedly mishandled security files and has approved unwarranted security clearances."
The complaint says that on July 18, 2017, Newbold emailed Kline about “potential derogatory information” related to the individual that could impact his security clearance. At the time, Kushner had interim security clearance and his FBI investigation was ongoing, according to sources familiar with the situation.
Newbold’s complaint explains that standard procedure would be to call in the employee and discuss the negative information, which in this case had already been deemed to be “credible." Newbold’s complaint alleges that Kline refused to do so and instead suggested he “was going to wait until the [FBI] investigation was completed.”
Newbold says in the complaint that she “questioned why we were treating this individual any differently than we would any other individual.” The complaint claims Kline then shut down the discussion saying, “he would not address this matter further.”
Newbold’s complaint says she raised concerns with Kline again on the same individual, identified by sources as Kushner, on Aug. 21, 2017. The complaint states that Kline “advised I should ‘watch myself.’"
Months later, Kline approved top-secret clearance for Kushner, overruling the determination by Newbold and one other career White House security specialist, according to two sources familiar with the situation.
The career staffers rejected Kushner’s top-secret application because of concerns about his foreign contacts that were detailed in his FBI background investigation, according to the two sources.
Doesn’t look good Kush.
Head of FEMA resigns to spend more time with his family.
Brock Long, who led the Federal Emergency Management Agency during 220 declared disasters since 2017, announced his resignation Wednesday.
In a statement, Long, 43, said "While this has been the opportunity of the lifetime, it is time for me to go home to my family — my beautiful wife and two incredible boys."
William “Brock” Long has led FEMA since June 2017. A former state emergency management director in Alabama, Long was faced with immediate challenges in the federal post, including hurricanes Harvey in Texas and Maria in Puerto Rico. FEMA’s response to Maria was widely criticized as slow and inadequate.
Long was also found by the Department Of Homeland Security’s inspector general to have improperly used government vehicles and resources to travel back to his North Carolina home.
Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said of Long in a statement, “I appreciate his tireless dedication to FEMA and his commitment to fostering a culture of preparedness across the nation.”
Nielsen said Deputy Administrator Pete Gaynor will become acting FEMA administrator upon Long’s departure. It’s not clear how much longer Long will remain at his position.
Who’s coming in…
Bill Barr is still needing to be confirmed by Congress, but it seems like he will be made Attorney General. But his daughter and son-in-law are now being sent to jobs within the government. Both positions seem like they are in pretty key areas…FinCen (scrutinizes financial transactions and crimes) and White House Counsel’s office.
Mary Daly, Barr’s oldest daughter and the director of Opioid Enforcement and Prevention Efforts in the deputy attorney general’s office, is leaving for a position at the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), the Treasury Department’s financial crimes unit, a Justice official said.
Tyler McGaughey, the husband of Barr’s youngest daughter, has been detailed from the powerful US attorney’s office in Alexandria, Virginia, to the White House counsel’s office, two officials said.
The moves were by choice and are not required under federal nepotism laws, but Walter Shaub, the former director of the Office of Government Ethics, called them “a good idea” to “avoid the bad optics that could come from the appearance of them working for him.”
Barr confirmed and will be sworn in later today.
The Senate confirmed William P. Barr on Thursday for a second stint as attorney general, handing oversight of the Justice Department — and its ongoing investigation into links between Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and the Trump campaign — to a seasoned Republican legal hand known for his expansive view of presidential power.
Senators expressed hope that the installation of a conventional figure like Mr. Barr could return some stability to the Justice Department’s 115,000 employees, after two years of intense battering by President Trump and his allies in Congress. The president lost confidence in his first attorney general, Jeff Sessions, early on and, after months of publicly scorning him for recusing himself from overseeing the Russia investigation, Mr. Trump installed Mr. Sessions’s chief of staff, Matthew G. Whitaker, as a temporary replacement in November.
“Steady leadership at a time we need steady leadership to give a morale boost to the Department of Justice,” Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina and the Judiciary Committee chairman, said shortly before the vote. “Somebody who will be fair to the president, but also be fair to the rule of law and protect the integrity of the Department of Justice.”
But with the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, believed to be finishing his work, Mr. Barr’s tenure is likely to be shaped by the same cross currents, and his decisions could have far-reaching consequences for Mr. Trump, the presidency and the department for years to come.