As Circle of Trump Aides Dwindles, a Few Plan to Stay to the End
WASHINGTON — Hope Hicks was so close to President Trump that he heeded her advice last June to defy protesters and march across Lafayette Square for a photo op she staged to project an image of “toughness.” The plan backfired when the peaceful protesters had to be flushed from the square with flash grenades and chemical spray, but Ms. Hicks remained a valued adviser.
Now Ms. Hicks is nowhere to be found. She has been to the White House only sporadically since Mr. Trump lost the election, while continuing to collect her taxpayer-funded salary of $183,000.
And yet she does not plan to add her name to the growing list of White House officials and cabinet secretaries submitting their resignations or issuing public statements condemning the Trump-incited mob assault on the Capitol, in which two people were killed and three others died of medical emergencies. Ms. Hicks does not want to create issues for Mr. Trump, a person familiar with her thinking said, so she plans to simply stay quiet. Her planned last day is next week, which she has told people was already set before the storming of the Capitol.
Some people in Trumpworld have begun to refer to the group that is loyally sticking with Mr. Trump as the “dead enders,” those advisers who are so closely associated with him that they have few options available to them other than remaining by his side.
Still working in the building, even as the West Wing has been clearing out, are Nick Luna, the president’s body man; Johnny McEntee, the director of the presidential personnel office; and Dan Scavino, the president’s former golf caddy turned deputy chief of staff for communications. Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff, is still working in the West Wing and plans to stay until the lights are turned off. But he has been described by colleagues as shellshocked in recent days.
Kayleigh McEnany, the White House press secretary, is still there, too, but she did not come into the West Wing on Friday, telling her staff she needed to spend the day at home. Judd Deere, a deputy White House press secretary, plans to stay through Jan. 20.
Stephen Miller, the president’s top policy adviser who has been at his side since the 2016 campaign, is still working for Mr. Trump. But even Mr. Miller has been around much less frequently because of his newborn, who has been sick in the hospital. His first day back full time at his West Wing office was Jan. 6.
His wife, Katie Miller, works as the communications director for Vice President Mike Pence, whose own close relationship with the president has fractured in recent weeks. Ms. Miller has been on maternity leave.
A group of more senior officials have struggled with how to deal with their roles: Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin; Larry Kudlow, the national economic adviser; Robert C. O’Brien, the national security adviser; and Christopher Liddell, the head of the White House’s transition team. But all have decided to remain in their jobs until the inauguration to try to keep Mr. Trump under control and to ensure that unfinished business gets completed, despite their disappointment in Mr. Trump’s destructive behavior, a person familiar with their plans said.
“I’m intending to stay and try and do the right thing for the country,” Mr. Liddell said in an interview with a New Zealand publication. “It is actually critical I keep my job for the next 12 days. This is an unbelievable, volatile situation.”
Pat A. Cipollone, the White House counsel, has considered resigning, but on Friday evening was still in his job.
Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, was seen in the West Wing on Friday after flying back from the Middle East. His presence was seen as an attempt at damage control. Both he and his wife, Ivanka Trump, had been absent from the White House in recent weeks. A junk-hauling truck was spotted in front of their house in the exclusive Kalorama neighborhood of Washington on Thursday.
Those still on the job were angry at many who had left. After Stephanie Grisham, a former White House press secretary, resigned on Wednesday, many Trump advisers said they viewed it as an opportunistic move by someone who had already checked out long ago.
Former colleagues on Friday were particularly furious at Alyssa Farah, the former White House communications director, who appeared eager to reinvent her role in the Trump administration by claiming in an interview with Politico that she had resigned in December because “I saw where this was heading.”
“They’re bottom-feeders who are showing their true colors,” said Jason Miller, the Trump campaign strategist. “The Democrats are still going to hate them, the Trump base is going to hate them for being a rat that’s jumping ship.”
Alan Rappeport contributed reporting.
Source: Read Full Article