The White House revolving door: Who’s gone?

Donald Trump’s administration has had a very high turnover – with senior officials quitting, being fired or getting eased out at a record pace.

Here is a run-down of what they did, and why they left, starting with the most recent.

Alexander Acosta, Labour Secretary – 12 July 2019

While announcing his resignation, the former US attorney from Florida said he felt the “right thing was to step aside” so his past controversies would not overshadow the administration’s accomplishments.

Mr Trump, who stood next to Mr Acosta while he spoke to reporters, noted: “This was him, not me.” He said Mr Acosta was “a great labour secretary”.

Mr Acosta was sworn in as labour secretary in April 2017 – the first Hispanic appointee to the Cabinet. He was chosen for the role after Mr Trump’s first choice, fast-food billionaire Andrew Puzder, withdrew.

Why did he leave?

Mr Acosta had been defending his role in a 2008 plea deal that saw a light sentence for financier Jeffrey Epstein after he pleaded guilty to prostitution charges. Epstein was charged in July with new sex trafficking charges related to that case.

Top Democrats had called on Mr Acosta to resign for engaging in “an unconscionable agreement” with Epstein.

Mr Acosta said he negotiated the deal to ensure Epstein did not walk free, and that he was happy about the new case moving forward.

Time in post

Just over two years.

Sarah Sanders, White House Press Secretary – 13 June 2019

President Trump announced that White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders would be stepping down in a tweet, later praising her to reporters as a “warrior”.

She started out as deputy press secretary before replacing Sean Spicer in the top post after a chaotic few months.

During her tenure, she was accused of lying to journalists.

Why did she leave?

Mrs Sanders will return to her home state of Arkansas.

The mother-of-three said she was looking forward to spending more time with her children.

Press briefings became increasingly rare during her tenure as Mr Trump took charge of his own messaging.

Time in post

Nearly two years.

Rod Rosenstein, Deputy Attorney General – 30 April 2019

Rod Rosenstein eventually submitted a resignation letter, effective from 11 May, after months of rumours about his departure.

It came shortly after the release of the report into claims of Russian interference in the 2016 election – an investigation he oversaw.

Reports say he specially timed his departure to allow for Robert Mueller’s probe to wind down first.

Why did he leave?

His relationship with the president was always publicly fraught – with the lawyer frequently coming under fire on Mr Trump’s Twitter feed.

There were even reports in 2018 that Mr Rosenstein at one point planned to secretly record the president in order to justify his removal under the 25th amendment of the US constitution.

Despite this, Mr Rosenstein’s resignation letter paid tribute to Mr Trump.

In it, Rosenstein said he was “grateful” for the opportunity to serve under him and even signed it off borrowing his campaign slogan of “America first”.

Time in post

Just over two years from his confirmation.

Kirstjen Nielsen, Homeland Security Secretary – 7 April 2019

Kirstjen Nielsen became Homeland Security Secretary in December 2017.

Her sprawling department, responsible for domestic security, covers everything from borders to responding to national emergencies.

She faced criticism for enforcing some of the most controversial elements of President Trump’s domestic agenda, such as the separation of children from their migrant parents at the Mexican border.

In a resignation letter she said it was the “right time for me to step aside”.

Why did she leave?

There have been tensions between her and the president for months, who blamed her for a rise in migrants at the Mexican border.

Days earlier President Trump withdrew his nominee to lead another key department dealing with immigration, saying he wanted to go in a “tougher direction”. It is widely thought he wants someone “tougher” at Homeland Security too.

Time in post?

14 months.

Brock Long, administrator of Fema – 13 February 2019

Brock Long was appointed administrator of the US Federal Emergency Management Agency by President Trump in April 2017 and confirmed by the Senate two months later.

Fema is responsible for co-ordinating the response to disasters and in his tenure he oversaw 220 of them. He was quickly battered by two hurricanes. Harvey hit Texas with catastrophic effect in August 2017, while Maria a month later devastated Puerto Rico, an unincorporated territory of the US.

He was one of those who bore heavy criticism for the response afforded to Puerto Rico.

Why did he leave?

He tweeted that it had been a “great honour” to serve his country and that it was “time to go home to my family”.

He praised the president for “unprecedented support”.

Mr Long was investigated last autumn for using government vehicles to commute from his home in North Carolina to Washington.

Time in post?

21 months from confirmation.

Jim Mattis, Defence Secretary – 20 December 2018

The departure, scheduled for February, was announced in an evening tweet by the president.

In his social media post, Mr Trump said General Mattis would retire “with distinction” at the end of February, but did not name a successor.

A distinguished former Marine Corps general, Gen Mattis had held the post since Mr Trump took office.

Why did he leave?

The move came just one day after the president controversially announced the withdrawal of US troops from Syria.

Although not referring directly to that, in his resignation letter Gen Mattis said the president had the right to have a defence secretary “whose views are better aligned” with his.

The two had diverging public views on a number of subjects, including Mr Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal.

Time in post?

By the time he leaves, just over two years.

Ryan Zinke, Interior Secretary – 15 December 2018

A former Navy SEAL, Ryan Zinke was picked to lead the agency that oversees federal land, including national parks such as Yosemite and Yellowstone.

He is a former congressman for Montana, where he was raised near Glacier National Park.

Why was he sacked?

President Trump tweeted that Mr Zinke would be leaving the administration at the end of 2018. He did not offer any further details as to the reasons for his departure and it is unclear whether he resigned or was fired.

“Ryan has accomplished much during his tenure and I want to thank him for his service to our Nation,” Mr Trump said.

Mr Zinke has been under a number of investigations for his conduct in office. They include a land deal in Montana involving Mr Zinke and the chairman of oilfield services Halliburton, Politico reported.

Time in post?

Almost two years.

John Kelly, Chief of Staff – December 2018

The retired Marine general was initially nominated to oversee Homeland Security before Mr Trump promoted him to chief of staff in July 2017, replacing Reince Priebus.

However, on 8 December Mr Trump announced that Gen Kelly would leave his post by the end of the year.

Why is he leaving?

By December 2018 his relationship with the president was said to have deteriorated, with some reports saying the pair were no longer on speaking terms.

Earlier in the year Mr Kelly was forced to deny that he had called Mr Trump an “idiot” after the quote was included in a book by the veteran investigative journalist Bob Woodward.

Time in post

About one year, five months. (He was previously Homeland Security secretary from January to July 2017.)

Jeff Sessions, Attorney General – 7 November 2018

The Alabama Republican was the first senator to endorse Donald Trump’s presidential candidacy, in early 2016.

During the campaign, he became one of Mr Trump’s closest national security advisers and, in government, was a supporter of the president’s policies on immigration and law enforcement.

Why was he fired?

Mr Sessions became a frequent target of the president’s ire as soon as he stepped aside, in March 2017, from the investigation over alleged Russian collusion with Mr Trump’s campaign. The recusal allowed his deputy Rod Rosenstein to oversee the inquiry, which led to the appointment of special counsel Robert Mueller.

At various times, Mr Trump publicly belittled Mr Sessions as “beleaguered”, “VERY weak”, and “DISGRACEFUL”. But Mr Sessions reacted to most of the insults in silence.

US media reported that Gen Kelly had called Mr Sessions to say the president wanted him to step down. Mr Trump did not speak to Mr Sessions himself, and announced the departure on Twitter.

In his resignation letter, Mr Sessions made clear the decision was not his own, saying: “Dear Mr President, at your request I am submitting my resignation.”

WATCH: How Trump-Sessions relations soured

Time in post?

One year, nine months

Nikki Haley, Ambassador to the UN – 9 October 2018

The former governor of South Carolina was the first non-white woman to be appointed to Mr Trump’s cabinet, and the first female, minority governor of her state.

She had limited foreign policy experience prior to her role as US envoy and was a vocal critic of Mr Trump during his campaign.

Trump names former critic as UN envoy

Why did she leave?

In a news conference with Mr Trump, Mrs Haley announced she was stepping aside after a “rough” eight years as governor and envoy.

She will be leaving her post at the end of 2018, but said she did not yet know what her next steps would be.

Mrs Haley said she wanted to make sure Mr Trump’s administration “has the strongest person to fight” for the US at the UN.

While accepting her resignation, Mr Trump thanked her and said she did a “terrific job”, making the role “very glamorous”.

Time in post?

One year, eleven months

Scott Pruitt, Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency – 6 July 2018

The lawyer served as the attorney general of Oklahoma from 2011 – 2017.

He had sued the EPA, the agency which he presided over, a number of times in his role as the state’s attorney general.

Why did he leave?

Donald Trump announced that Mr Pruitt had resigned due to “unrelenting attacks” on himself and his family.

Since taking office Mr Pruitt has been mired in series of scandals concerning his spending habits and alleged misuse of office, and is the subject of at least a dozen investigations into his conduct.

As the head of the EPA, he angered many liberals and environmentalists by severely curtailing the agency’s activities and repealing many measures designed to protect the environment.

The long list of Scott Pruitt controversies

While accepting Mr Pruitt’s resignation, Mr Trump tweeted that he had done “an outstanding job, and I will always be thankful to him”.

Time in post?

One year, four months, 19 days

David Shulkin, Veterans Affairs Secretary – 28 March 2018

A doctor, he had served as undersecretary of veterans affairs for health under Barack Obama.

President Trump had hailed him as “fantastic” when appointing him, and the Senate gave him the only 100-0 confirmation of the Trump team.

Why did he leave?

Donald Trump announced that Mr Shulkin was resigning and that the president’s personal doctor, Rear Admiral Ronny Jackson, would replace him.

Mr Shulkin had come under fire for alleged improper behaviour by department staff on a trip to Europe in 2017, including his own acceptance of tickets to the Wimbledon tennis tournament. He denied wrongdoing but agreed to reimburse the government for his wife’s air fare for the trip.

Mr Shulkin won praise from veterans’ groups, but his lack of action on privatising the Veterans Health Administration had angered conservatives.

In parting, he condemned the “toxic, chaotic, disrespectful and subversive” environment in Washington.

Time in post?

Fourteen months

HR McMaster, National Security Adviser – 22 March 2018

A lieutenant general with the US Army, HR McMaster served in Iraq and Afghanistan, where he worked on a government anti-corruption drive.

He replaced Lt Gen Michael Flynn, who was fired after just three weeks and three days in the job after he misled Vice-President Pence about his contacts with the Russian ambassador.

Time magazine named him as one of its 100 most influential people in the world in 2014, saying he “might be the 21st Century Army’s pre-eminent warrior-thinker”.

Why did he leave?

Mr Trump reportedly disliked his “gruff and condescending” manner and staff said the two never “gelled”.

Gen Kelly, White House chief of staff at the time, also had little positive to say about him.

Time in post?

Thirteen months.

Rex Tillerson, Secretary of State – 13 March 2018

President Trump announced on Twitter that his secretary of state was leaving his position and being replaced with CIA director Mike Pompeo.

The dramatic shake-up came during a delicate time for diplomatic relations, with direct talks agreed in principle with North Korea.

In a statement, Mr Trump thanked him for his service and wished his family well.

Why did he leave?

The news came just after Mr Tillerson cut short a trip through Africa, with a statement saying he returned a day early because of schedule demands in Washington.

Mr Tillerson reportedly disagreed with a number of the president’s policies, including his recently announced proposal to impose tariffs on steel and aluminium imports.

Mr Trump reportedly believed Mr Tillerson was “too establishment” in his thinking, US media reports.

Time in post?

Fourteen months.

Gary Cohn, Chief Economic Adviser – 6 March 2018

The former president of the Goldman Sachs bank was appointed as head of the National Economic Council as Mr Trump took office, so becoming the president’s top economic adviser.

In his time at the White House, he helped push through sweeping reforms on taxes, one of the most significant policy achievements of the administration.

But the two were not reported to be close, and rumours of Mr Cohn’s departure continued to swirl.

Why did he leave?

A staunch globalist, Mr Cohn had reportedly vowed to quit if Mr Trump pressed ahead with plans to impose tariffs on steel and aluminium imports to the US.

According to US media, Mr Cohn initially planned to resign after Mr Trump blamed “both sides” for violence at a deadly far-right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August 2017.

Time in post?

Fourteen months.

Hope Hicks, White House Communications Director – 28 February 2018

Ms Hicks served as Mr Trump’s press secretary and handled media requests during his campaign.

She became his fourth director of strategic communications for the Trump White House after Anthony Scaramucci was fired after just 10 days in the job.

The fashion model-turned-spokeswoman previously worked as a publicist for Ivanka Trump’s fashion label before entering politics with Mr Trump’s bid for the White House.

Who is Trump’s media director?

Why did she leave?

Her resignation came a day after she testified to a congressional panel investigating Russian influence on the 2016 election, telling them she had occasionally told “white lies” for her boss.

Her departure came only weeks after another top aide to Mr Trump, Rob Porter – with whom Ms Hicks was reported to have been in a relationship – quit amid allegations by two ex-wives of abuse.

Time in post?

Six years in the Trump Organization, and three years with Mr Trump during his campaign and presidency.

Rob Porter, White House Staff Secretary – 8 February 2018

Mr Porter, who had been described as Mr Trump’s “right-hand man”, resigned after two of his ex-wives publicly accused him of physical and emotional abuse.

One woman said he had kicked her during their 2003 honeymoon, and punched her in the face whilst on holiday a few years later.

He denies all the accusations.

Explaining Trump’s Rob Porter problem in three simple ways

Why did he quit?

The White House, and Gen Kelly in particular, were feeling increasing pressure to dump Mr Porter after the accusations of violence were first published in the Daily Mail.

Questions quickly arose over how early Gen Kelly had been made aware of the accusations by the FBI, and whether that was why Mr Porter was forced to operate with only an interim security clearance.

Time in post?

One year.

Andrew McCabe, FBI deputy director – 29 January 2018

Andrew McCabe resigned as deputy director of the FBI, where he served under current director Christopher Wray and former FBI director James Comey.

He was reportedly forced to step down ahead of his official retirement date in March, according to CBS News. His resignation came a week after a report that Mr Trump wanted him out.

The career agent became the FBI’s acting director for nearly three months after the president sacked Mr Comey. He returned to his post after Mr Wray was appointed.

Why was he sacked?

The attorney has faced repeated criticism from President Trump, who claims his ties to Democrats made him partial in the ongoing Russia investigation.

His wife, Jill McCabe, ran a failed Democratic bid for a state senate seat in Virginia in 2015, during which she received $500,000 (£355,000) from a political action group allied with Hillary Clinton – a move which Mr Trump apparently found unforgiveable.

Time in post?

Two years as FBI deputy director, including a year under Mr Trump’s administration.

Tom Price, health secretary – 29 September 2017

The former Georgia congressman was a long-standing opponent of the Affordable Care Act – known as Obamacare.

Mr Price was confirmed by the Senate along party lines, amid allegations of insider trading while he worked on healthcare laws – which he denied.

As health secretary, Mr Price was involved in President Trump’s repeated failures to push through bills repealing Obamacare.

Why was he sacked?

An analysis of transport spending by Politico discovered that Mr Price had, between May and late September, spent more than $1m on flights.

Some $500,000 of that was on military flights approved by the White House, but private charter flights made up at least $400,000 where commercial flights were available. Mr Trump said he was “not happy”.

Time in post?

Almost eight months.

Steve Bannon, chief strategist – 18 August 2017

Steve Bannon joined the Trump campaign after leading the right-wing Breitbart News website, which rose to prominence through its attacks on mainstream Republicans, as well as those on the left.

The website helped to elevate the so-called “Alt-right”, which critics label a white supremacist group.

Like other aides to Mr Trump, he made his fortune as an investment banker, but later turned to financing film and television programmes such as the popular 90s sitcom Seinfeld.

Why was he sacked?

Some of Mr Trump’s most influential advisers, including his son-in-law Jared Kushner, had been pushing for his departure for months.

His firing came amid a public backlash to Mr Trump’s response to a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in which an anti-racist protester was killed by a 20-year-old man with Nazi sympathies.

Time in post?

Fired one year after being named campaign chief.

Anthony Scaramucci, communications director – 31 July 2017

The brash, Wall Street bigwig has known President Trump for years, and defended him in TV interviews.

While in the job, he appeared to accuse then-Chief of Staff Reince Priebus of being responsible for White House leaks in a tweet (later deleted) that also appeared to threaten him.

Mr Scaramucci then attacked Mr Priebus and President Trump’s senior adviser Steve Bannon in an expletive-filled rant on the phone with a reporter from the New Yorker magazine.

Why was he sacked?

Although he had boasted of reporting directly to the president, Mr Scaramucci’s outbursts may have cost him any post alongside Gen Kelly, who was replacing Reince Priebus as chief of staff.

Mr Scaramucci’s departure was announced hours after Gen Kelly was sworn-in.

Time in post?

Ten days (although his official start date was 15 August – so possibly minus 15 days.)

Reince Priebus, chief of staff – 28 July 2017

The former Republican National Committee chairman was one of few Washington veterans given a top role in the Trump White House but was unable to assert his authority.

He grappled with competing powers in an administration where Mr Trump’s daughter Ivanka, and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, played key roles.

Why was he sacked?

President Trump lost confidence in him and clearly wanted a shake-up in the White House, opting for a general to replace the Republican Party operative, who was seen as weak.

The announcement also came as the Republicans failed in their efforts to repeal Obamacare in the Senate.

Time in post?

Six months.

Sean Spicer, press secretary – 21 July 2017

Mr Spicer famously kicked off his tenure as White House press secretary by defending a seemingly indefensible claim about the crowd size at President Trump’s inauguration.

Over the course of his time behind the podium he became – unusually for a press secretary – a household name, and was parodied on Saturday Night Live.

Why did he leave?

Unlike most others on this list, Mr Spicer appears to have left on seemingly good terms with the president.

He stepped down after Mr Scaramucci was appointed to a role he had partially filled, saying he did not want there to be “too many cooks in the kitchen”.

Time in post?

Six months.

James Comey, FBI director – 9 May 2017

Mr Comey played a dramatic and controversial part in the closing stages of the election when he announced, a week before the vote, that the FBI had reopened an investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server.

He was criticised first by Democrats for the timing, then by Republicans when he said a week later that no charges would be brought.

The president grew less appreciative of him as the FBI director led an investigation into alleged ties between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Why was he sacked?

The Trump administration first claimed Mr Comey’s handling of the Clinton email investigation rendered him no longer able to credibly lead the bureau and that Mr Trump had acted on the deputy attorney general’s recommendation.

However Mr Trump soon contradicted this, calling him a “showboat” in a TV interview and saying he was thinking of the “Russia thing” when he made the decision to sack him.

Time in post?

Three years, eight months. Less than four months under Mr Trump.

Michael Flynn, national security adviser – 14 February 2017

Technically, Michael Flynn resigned, but he was asked to do so by the president.

His departure followed weeks of deepening scandal in which it emerged that he had misled White House officials, including the vice-president, over his contact with Russian ambassador Sergei Kislyak.

Mr Flynn is said to have discussed US sanctions against Russia with Mr Kislyak before Mr Trump took office.

Why was he sacked?

It is illegal for private citizens to conduct US diplomacy, and once it was established that Mr Flynn had lied about his contact with Mr Kislyak there was no question that he had to go.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer said that the president needed the time to investigate Mr Flynn and establish his guilt, but the scandal prompted fierce speculation over what the president knew of Mr Flynn’s contacts with Mr Kislyak.

Time in post?

23 days.

Sally Yates, acting attorney general – 31 January 2017

The president fired Sally Yates after she questioned the legality of Mr Trump’s travel ban on seven Muslim-majority countries.

Ms Yates, who was appointed by Barack Obama, believed it discriminated unconstitutionally against Muslims, and ordered justice department lawyers not to enforce the president’s executive order.

Why was she sacked?

A White House statement said Ms Yates had “betrayed the Department of Justice by refusing to enforce a legal order designed to protect the citizens of the United States”.

It also described her as “weak on borders and very weak on illegal immigration”.

Time in post?

10 days. She previously served as deputy attorney general from May 2015 until January 2017.

Preet Bharara, New York federal prosecutor – 11 March 2017

It is not uncommon for prosecutors appointed by the previous administration to be replaced as the White House changes hands, but the widely-respected Preet Bharara had been told specifically by the Trump administration that he would be kept on.

At the time of his sacking, he was overseeing several high-profile cases, including allegations of sexual harassment at Trump favourite Fox News.

Why was he sacked?

Mr Bharara was one of 46 prosecutors asked to resign by the Trump administration, which contended that it was part of a simple changing of the guard.

But there was speculation among Democrats and others that Mr Bahara’s jurisdiction, which included Trump Tower, may have concerned the president.

Time in post?

Seven years, seven months. Less than two months under Mr Trump.

Paul Manafort, Trump campaign manager – 19 August 2016

Paul Manafort, a long-time Republican political operative, was supposed to marshal some of the chaos around Mr Trump but ended up falling prey to it.

He was sacked after five months with Mr Trump’s campaign, three of those as campaign chair.

Why was he sacked?

The Trump campaign didn’t give a reason for Mr Manafort’s departure, issuing only a statement wishing him well.

But a wave of reports in the week before the announcement alleged that Mr Manafort had received secret cash payments from a pro-Russian political party for representing Russian interests in Ukraine and the US.

Time in post?

Three months.

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