Resignations and Dismissals
Resignations and dismissals of cabinet members and senior White House staff are not uncommon. During Obama's first six years as president, 36 high-ranking officials resigned for various reasons. The George W. Bush administration experienced 42 resignations. Nine criminal convictions of high-ranking or senior administration members followed those resignations.
Reagan's administration saw the most resignations, due largely to the Iran-Contra Affair. By the end of his two terms, 138 White House officials had been convicted, indicted, or had been the subject of official investigations for official misconduct and/or criminal violations following their resignations, including his press secretary and chief of staff.
Trump's presidency has been marked by swift resignations and withdrawals from consideration. National Security Adviser Michael Flynn resigned amid scandal. Trump's nominee for Labor Secretary, Andrew Puzder, stepped aside amid controversies over unpaid taxes and other issues. Trump's campaign manager Paul Manafort stepped down after ties between him and Russia were revealed during the campaign. Manafort himself was only appointed the campaign manager after the previous one, Corey Lewandowski, resigned after physically abusing a journalist, among other things. Another staffer, adviser Michael Caputo, was fired after mocking Lewandowski for being fired. And Trump's North Carolina state campaign director resigned after being accused of pointing a loaded gun at staffers.
|2017.02.13||Michael Flynn resigns as National Security Adviser. nytimes.com |
After less than a month on the job, he said he had given “incomplete information” about a telephone call with the Russian ambassador before President Trump’s inauguration.
|2017.02.15||Andrew Puzder withdraws from consideration as Labor Secretary. nytimes.com|
|2017.02.15||Andrew Puzder withdraws from consideration for Labor Secretary after Republicans join Democrats in opposing his nomination. theguardian.com (See also Andrew Puzder, First 100 Days, Department of Labor)|
|2017.02.16||Retired Navy vice-admiral Robert Harward, Trump's choice to replace Michael Flynn as National Security Adviser, says no. npr.org (See also Robert Harward)|
|2017.02.16||Six White House staffers are dismissed after failing FBI background checks. politico.com|
|2017.02.22||Chief digital officer and director of scheduling step down from positions after being unable to pass FBI background check required for White House staffers whose positions include national security. politico.com (See also First 100 Days)|
|2017.11.02||Sam Clovis, an early backer backer of President Donald Trump caught up in the special counsel’s Russia investigation, has withdrawn his nomination to be a top official in the Agriculture Department. bloomberg.com (See also Trump Cabinet, Department of Agriculture, Russian Meddling in Election, Assaults on Government)|
It should be noted that Mr. Clovis had no scientific background.
|2017.12.08||Deputy national security adviser Dina Powell plans to leave the White House as part of an anticipated wave of departures following President Trump’s first year in office. washingtonpost.com (See also Foreign Policy, H.R. McMaster, Rex Tillerson)|
|2017.12.13||Omarosa Manigault-Newman, the former reality TV star turned political aide to Donald Trump, has resigned from her administration position. buzzfeed.com (See also Black Americans)|
|2017.12.21||Rick Dearborn, one of Donald Trump’s top aides, will step down early next year to pursue private-sector work, becoming the latest high-profile departure from the West Wing in recent weeks. wsj.com|
|2017.12.28||The Trump White House saw a record number of first-year staff departures at 34%, which is unprecedented in the modern era, as the next highest first year turnover rate was 17% under Ronald Reagan in 1981. wsj.com (See also Unprecedented Actions)|
|2018.01.19||Trump administration appointee Carl Higbie resigned Thursday as chief of external affairs for the federal government's volunteer service organization after a review of racist, sexist, anti-Muslim and anti-LGBT comments he made on the radio. cnn.com (See also Racism, Homophobia, Women, Black Americans)|
|2018.01.31||The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention resigned on Wednesday, in the middle of the nation’s worst flu epidemic in nearly a decade, because of her troubling financial investments in tobacco and health care companies that posed potential conflicts of interest. nytimes.com (See also Conflicts of Interest, Department of Health and Human Services)|
|2018.02.01||A wave of retirements has hit the Environmental Protection Agency’s research program to identify and evaluate toxic chemicals, as it faces a shrinking budget under the Trump administration and a complicated overhaul of how it conducts chemical assessments. buzzfeed.com (See also Environmental Protection Agency, Environment, Scott Pruitt)|
|2018.02.02||K.T. McFarland, picked by Donald Trump to be the U.S. ambassador to Singapore, withdrew from consideration for the job on Friday after her nomination became stalled in the U.S. Senate, due to concerns about her testimony to Congress over communications with Russia. reuters.com (See also Russia, False Statements)|
|2018.02.04||The Trump administration plans to withdraw its nomination of Kathleen Hartnett White, a climate change skeptic, to lead the Council on Environmental Quality, who has said that carbon dioxide should be considered the “gas of life” rather than a pollutant. nytimes.com (See also Climate Change, Environment, Administration Errors)|
Carbon dioxide emissions contribute to global warming.
|2018.02.07||White House staff secretary Rob Porter resigns amid abuse allegations axios.com (See also Women, Misogyny, John Kelly)|
|2018.02.09||Rachel L. Brand, the No. 3 official at the Justice Department, plans to step down after nine months on the job as the country’s top law enforcement agency has been under attack by Donald Trump. nytimes.com (See also Department of Justice, Jeff Sessions, 2016 Election)|
|2018.02.12||More than a year into his administration, Donald Trump is presiding over a staff in turmoil, one with a 34 percent turnover rate, higher than any White House in decades, struggling to fill openings, unwilling to hire Republicans he considers disloyal and unable to entice Republicans who consider him unstable. nytimes.com (See also Administration Errors)|
Trump's 23% turnover rate in his first year is more than three times as high as Barack Obama's in the same period, and twice as high a Ronald Reagan's which until now was the modern record holder.
|2018.02.12||The Trump administration’s controversial pick to run the 2020 census, Thomas Brunell, a political science professor who has defended Republican redistricting efforts in more than a dozen states, has withdrawn from consideration. motherjones.com (See also Assaults on Civil Liberties, Voter Suppression)|
|2018.02.13||FBI Director Christopher Wray appeared to completely contradict White House’s response and timeline regarding allegations that former staff secretary Rob Porter beat both his ex-wives. splinternews.com (See also Legal Issues, Administration Errors)|
|2018.02.13||The White House changed its story on Tuesday about how it handled allegations of spousal abuse against Rob Porter, the staff secretary who resigned in disgrace, conceding that the F.B.I. told White House career officials last summer about problems in Mr. Porter’s background check, but members of President Trump’s team said top advisers in the West Wing were kept in the dark. nytimes.com (See also Reversals, False Statements)|
|2018.02.14||A senior official on the National Economic Council resigned after being informed that he would not receive a permanent security clearance, as the White House faces increasing scrutiny over the number of high-ranking officials allowed to work on interim clearances. politico.com (See also John Kelly)|
|2018.02.20||A top official at the Department of Health and Human Services has been placed on administrative leave after a CNN KFile inquiry while the agency investigates social media postings in which he pushed unfounded smears on social media. cnn.com (See also Department of Health and Human Services, Belief in Conspiracy Theories, Racism)|
|2018.02.27||Josh Raffel, a senior communications official in the White House who has been a go-to crisis manager and who has worked closely with Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, is leaving the administration. washingtonpost.com (See also Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner)|
|2018.02.28||Hope Hicks, the White House communications director and one of President Trump’s longest-serving advisers, said that she was resigning. nytimes.com (See also Russian Meddling in Election)|
Her resignation came a day after she testified for eight hours before the House Intelligence Committee.
|2018.03.06||Gary D. Cohn, President Trump’s top economic adviser, said on Tuesday that he would resign, becoming the latest in a series of high-profile departures from the Trump administration. nytimes.com (See also Economy, Anti-Semitism, Nationalism)|
|2018.03.07||Several White House staffers have been terminated or reassigned for issues related to their security clearances — with at least one individual employed in the Office of the First Lady relieved of duty. abcnews.go.com (See also John Kelly, Jared Kushner, Administration Errors)|
|2018.03.13||Donald Trump has fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and plans to nominate CIA Director Mike Pompeo to replace him as the nation’s top diplomat, orchestrating a major change to his national security team amid delicate outreach such as possible talks with North Korea. washingtonpost.com (See also Rex Tillerson, Department of State, North Korea, Mike Pompeo)|
|2018.03.13||Donald Trump’s personal assistant, John McEntee, was escorted off of the White House on Monday, due to and unspecified financial security issue. wsj.com (See also Legal Issues)|
|2018.03.13||Hours before being ousted as secretary of state, Rex Tillerson called the poisoning of an ex-Russian spy and his daughter with a military-grade nerve agent in the U.K. “a really egregious act” that appears to have “clearly” come from Russia. nbcnews.com (See also Trump Relationship with Russia, Russia, Rex Tillerson, Department of State)|
“It's almost beyond comprehension that a state, an organized state would do something like that,” Rex Tillerson said on a trip to Africa, hours before being fired.
|2018.03.13||The San Francisco spokesman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has resigned over what he described as “false” and “misleading” statements made by top-ranking officials, including Attorney General Jeff Sessions and ICE Acting Director Thomas D. Homan. washingtonpost.com (See also Jeff Sessions, Department of State, False Statements, Immigration)|
|2018.03.16||Attorney General Jeff Sessions fired former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe, a little more than 24 hours before McCabe was set to retire — a move that McCabe alleged was an attempt to slander him and undermine the ongoing special counsel investigation into the Trump campaign. washingtonpost.com (See also 2016 Campaign, Jeff Sessions, Department of Justice, Conflicts of Interest)|
|2018.03.21||Nearly a year before Attorney General Jeff Sessions fired senior FBI official Andrew McCabe for what Sessions called a "lack of candor," McCabe oversaw a federal criminal investigation into whether Sessions himself lacked candor when testifying before Congress about contacts with Russian operatives. abcnews.go.com (See also Jeff Sessions, False Statements, Department of Justice)|
|2018.03.22||Donald Trump named John R. Bolton as his third national security adviser, replacing General H.R. McMaster, creating one of the most hawkish national security teams of any White House in recent history nytimes.com (See also H.R. McMaster, Foreign Policy)|
|2018.03.22||The president’s lead lawyer for the special counsel investigation, John Dowd, resigned, days after the president called for an end to the inquiry. nytimes.com (See also Legal Issues)|
|2018.03.25||Donald Trump has decided not to hire two lawyers previously announced as new additions to his legal team, leaving him with a shrinking stable of lawyers as the investigation by Robert S. Mueller III enters an intense phase. nytimes.com (See also Reversals, Legal Issues)|
|2018.03.28||After weeks of uncertainty atop the Department of Veterans Affairs, Donald Trump said he plans to replace its secretary, David J. Shulkin, with Dr. Ronny L. Jackson, the White House physician and a rear admiral in the Navy. nytimes.com (See also David Shulkin, Department of Veterans Affairs)|
|2018.04.08||National Security Council spokesman Michael Anton plans to leave the White House — a move that will leave Donald Trump without one of the earliest and sharpest defenders of his “America First" foreign policy. politico.com (See also Michael Flynn, H.R. McMaster)|
|2018.04.10||The EPA removed a career staffer, Mario Caraballo, who approved an internal report that undermined Administrator Scott Pruitt's claims that he needed around-the-clock bodyguards and other expensive security protection. politico.com (See also Scott Pruitt, Environmental Protection Agency, Corruption)|
|2018.04.11||Nadia Schadlow, the US deputy national security adviser for strategy, has resigned and will leave her position at the end of the month. cnn.com (See also Federal Departments)|
Schadlow is the third senior national security official to resign or be pushed out in the wake of national security adviser John Bolton's entrée to the White House.
|2018.04.12||A former top EPA staffer has told Democratic lawmakers that the agency fired him after he refused to retroactively approve the first-class travel of one of Administrator Scott Pruitt's closest aides "because it violated federal travel regulations." politico.com (See also Scott Pruitt, Environmental Protection Agency, Corruption)|
|2018.04.26||Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson has withdrawn as Donald Trump's nominee to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs, as his nomination was hampered by a flurry of allegations about his professional conduct. cnn.com (See also Reversals)|
|2018.04.27||Job vacancies are fast becoming a singular threat to Donald Trump’s administration, with a record number of openings that stretch from low-level appointments to the secretary’s office at the Department of Veterans Affairs, as many senior career government workers have quit or retired since Trump took office, taking institutional knowledge with them. politico.com (See also Assaults on Government, Administration Errors)|
|2018.04.29||White House physician Ronny Jackson will not return to his role as the president’s personal physician, after a string of allegations caused the Navy rear admiral to withdraw his nomination last week to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs. politico.com|
|2018.04/28 Donald Trump called for the resignation of Senator Jon Tester and threatened to spread allegations about the Democratic lawmaker in retaliation for helping to thwart his effort to install the White House physician in the cabinet. nytimes.com (See also Belief in Conspiracy Theories, Unpresidential Behavior)|
|2018.05.01||Two top aides to Scott Pruitt, the EPA chief who is facing an array of investigations related to his spending and management practices, have resigned amid widening scrutiny of their roles at the agency. nytimes.com (See also Scott Pruitt, Environmental Protection Agency)|
|2018.05.02||White House lawyer Ty Cobb, who served as the administration’s point person in dealing with special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, is stepping down and will be replaced by veteran white-collar defense attorney Emmet Flood. washingtonpost.com (See also Legal Activity)|
|2018.05.03||Sam Clovis, the former Trump campaign aide who had been serving as USDA's liaison to the White House, is leaving the Agriculture Department and will return home to Iowa. politico.com (See also Russian Meddling in Election, 2016 Campaign)|
|2018.05.10||The top White House official responsible for leading the U.S. response in the event of a deadly pandemic, Rear Adm. Timothy Ziemer, has left the administration, and the global health security team he oversaw has been disbanded under a reorganization by national security adviser John Bolton. washingtonpost.com (See also Reversals)|
Ziemer’s last day was Tuesday, the same day a new Ebola outbreak was declared in Congo. He is not being replaced.
|2018.05.11||One of the State Department’s top experts on nuclear proliferation resigned this week after Donald Trump announced the U.S. withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, in what officials and analysts say is part of a worrying brain drain from public service generally over the past 18 months. foreignpolicy.com (See also Iran, Nuclear Weapons)|
|2018.05.25||Mark S. Inch, the man in charge of the federal prison system, has resigned, stating he was tired of the Trump administration flouting "departmental norms" and complained that Jeff Sessions and Jared Kushner had marginalized his role. nytimes.com (See also Department of Justice, Jeff Sessions, Jared Kushner)|
|2018.06.05||Kelly Sadler, the White House communications aide who made a imprudent comment about Republican Sen. John McCain's health, was quietly let go nearly a month after making the insensitive remark. cnn.com|
|2018.06.06||Mick Mulvaney took yet another swipe at his consumer watchdog bureau — all but terminating an entire board of advocates who advise the agency about fair lending and underserved communities. money.cnn.com (See also Mick Mulvaney, Assaults on Civil Liberties, Assaults on Government)|
The CFPB has effectively dismissed the members of the Consumer Advisory Board, which is supposed to advise the bureau on fair lending, civil rights and underserved communities.
|2018.06.06||Two of Scott Pruitt’s most trusted aides have given notice that they are leaving the Environmental Protection Agency as its embattled administrator faces growing scrutiny over his spending and management decisions. washingtonpost.com (See also Scott Pruitt, Environmental Protection Agency)|
|2018.06.14||The White House’s top liaison to Capitol Hill will leave the job as early as this summer, lamenting to colleagues the “diminishing returns” of pushing Donald Trump’s agenda through the Republican-controlled Congress as the midterm elections approach. wsj.com|
|2018.06.19||White House deputy chief of staff Joe Hagin is departing the administration, and is expected to move to the private sector. independent.co.uk|
|2018.06.28||The Housing and Urban Development official who first raised concerns about Secretary Ben Carson’s push to redecorate his office alleged that she has been forced to resign. washingtonpost.com (See also Ben Carson, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Corruption)|
|2018.06.29||The U.S. ambassador to Estonia, James D. Melville Jr., a career diplomat and member of the senior foreign service ranks, announced to friends Friday that he was resigning in disgust amid a string of controversial comments Donald Trump made about U.S. allies in Europe. foreignpolicy.com (See also Unpresidential Behavior, Foreign Policy, Department of State)|
|2018.07.05||Donald Trump’s record-breaking staff churn continued on Thursday with the resignation of Scott Pruitt as the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. nytimes.com (See also Fact-Checking Resources, Scott Pruitt, Rex Tillerson, H.R. McMaster)|
Mr. Pruitt is the fifth cabinet-level official to be forced out or resign since Mr. Trump took office in January 2017.
|2018.07.05||Scott Pruitt, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, resigned after facing months of allegations over legal and ethical violations. nytimes.com (See also Scott Pruitt, Environmental Protection Agency, Corruption)|
|2018.07.05||The Environmental Protection Agency will be led in the coming months by Mr. Pruitt’s deputy, Andrew Wheeler, a former coal lobbyist who shares Mr. Pruitt’s zeal to undo environmental regulations. nytimes.com (See also Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, Climate Change, Environment)|
|2018.07.12||Marc Short, Donald Trump’s legislative affairs director is heading for the exits just as the White House gears up for a major Supreme Court nomination battle and approaches a daunting midterm election landscape. politico.com (See also Supreme Court)|
|2018.07.15||Shortly before Donald Trump detonated a NATO summit, shanked the beleaguered British prime minister and prepped for a face-to-face love session with Vladimir Putin, his White House quietly divested itself of a senior official hawkish on Russia and bullish on the transatlantic military alliance. thedailybeast.com (See also Russia, Trump Relationship with Russia)|
|2018.08.19||A White House speechwriter for Donald Trump was terminated last week after revelations that he had spoken at a conference attended by well-known white nationalists. washingtonpost.com (See also Racism)|
|2018.08.27||The federal official in charge of protecting student borrowers from predatory lending practices has stepped down. npr.org (See also Mick Mulvaney, Office of Management and Budget, Betsy DeVos)|
In a scathing resignation letter, Seth Frotman, who until now was the student loan ombudsman at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, says current leadership "has turned its back on young people and their financial futures." The letter was addressed to Mick Mulvaney, the bureau's acting director.
|2018.08.28||New emails link a former Homeland Security official to White Nationalists. theatlantic.com (See also Racism, Department of Homeland Security)|
|2018.08.29||White House Counsel Donald McGahn, who has led the Trump administration’s efforts to reshape the judiciary while confronting turmoil in the West Wing surrounding the ongoing special counsel probe, has decided to leave the White House, according to a Tweet from Donald Trump. washingtonpost.com (See also Unpresidential Behavior)|
Donald McGahn was not aware that the President was going to tweet the news of his resignation.
|2018.08.30||Ian M. Smith, a Department of Homeland Security analyst resigned this week after he was confronted about his ties to white nationalist groups, and attended multiple immigration policy meetings at the White House. washingtonpost.com (See also Racism, Anti-Semitism, Department of Homeland Security)|
|2018.10.09||Donald Trump has accepted Nikki Haley’s resignation as UN Ambassador, and she will exit at the end of the year. axios.com (See also Nikki Haley, Foreign Policy)|
|2018.10.09||Nick Ayers, the main focus of Donald Trump’s search to replace John F. Kelly as chief of staff in recent weeks, declined the offer and said that he was leaving the administration at the end of the year. nytimes.com (See also John Kelly, Administration Errors)|
|2018.10.17||Donald F. McGahn II departed as White House counsel, ending a tumultuous 21-month tenure, including two appointments to the Supreme Court, and also became a chief witness against him in the special counsel investigation. nytimes.com (See also Supreme Court, Legal Activity, Trump Relationship with Russia)|
|2018.11.07||Donald Trump fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions, replacing him with a loyalist who has echoed the president’s complaints about the special counsel investigation into Russia’s election interference and will now take charge of the inquiry. nytimes.com (See also Department of Justice, Jeff Sessions, Russia, Russian Meddling in Election)|
|2018.12.06||Donald Trump plans to nominate Heather Nauert, a former Fox News anchor and the chief State Department spokeswoman, to become his next ambassador to the United Nations, replacing Nikki Haley. nytimes.com (See also Nikki Haley)|
Past ambassadors to the UN have either been diplomats and international scholars or prominent politicians.
|2018.12.08||Donald Trump announced that White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly would exit his post by the end of the year, capping the retired Marine general’s rocky tenure as the president’s top aide and portending a major personnel shake-up as Trump prepares to navigate a divided Congress and focuses on his reelection campaign. washingtonpost.com (See also John Kelly, Reince Priebus)|
Nick Ayers, Vice President Pence’s chief of staff, is widely expected to be Kelly’s replacement.
|2018.12.14||Donald Trump announced that he has selected Mick Mulvaney, his budget director, to serve as his acting chief of staff. nytimes.com (See also Mick Mulvaney)|
|2018.12.15||Interior Department Secretary Ryan Zinke submitted his resignation to the White House, facing intense pressure to step down because of multiple probes tied to his real estate dealings in his home state of Montana and his conduct while in office. washingtonpost.com (See also Ryan Zinke, Department of the Interior, Corruption)|
|2018.12.20||Jim Mattis, the four-star Marine general turned defense secretary, resigned in protest of Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw 2,000 American troops from Syria, where they have been fighting the Islamic State. nytimes.com (See also James Mattis, Syria, Department of Defense)|
|2018.12.21||Donald Trump has discussed firing Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell as his frustration with the central bank chief intensified following this week’s interest-rate hike and months of stock-market losses. bloomberg.com (See also Conflicts of Interest)|
President Donald Trump has discussed firing Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell as his frustration with the central bank chief intensified following this week’s interest-rate increase and months of stock-market losses, according to four people familiar with the matter.
|2018.12.22||The US envoy for the global coalition to fight ISIS, Brett McGurk, is resigning over Donald Trump's decision to withdraw US troops from Syria. buzzfeednews.com (See also Syria, James Mattis)|
It's the second major resignation over the president's decision in as many days.
|2018.12.23||Donald Trump, who aides said has been seething about news coverage of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis’s pointed resignation letter, abruptly announced that he was removing Mattis two months before his planned departure and installing Patrick Shanahan as acting defense secretary. washingtonpost.com (See also Department of Defense, James Mattis)|