The halls of the White House have begun to echo as the staff finds the exits as fast as they can. Donald Trump has been having a terrible problem filling those empty positions. After all, who would want to take a job where the boss will most certainly scream and yell at everyone, the position made a huge black mark on every resume, and everyone needs $400,000 for a not-so-rainy-day legal fund? Another top-level employ just abandoned his place in the White House.
Deputy White House Counsel Stefan Passantino will leave, immediately following the president’s Twitter firing of the chief White House counsel, his boss. Apparently, four of the five assistants to White House Counsel Don McGahn planned their escape, leaving just one in place.
Ethics attorney for President Barack Obama and former ambassador to the Czech Republic, Norm Eisen, indicated that he thought Passantino would have left before now. When CNN’s Don Lemon interviewed Eisen, he told The Independent:
‘(Passantino) He has a nightmare client, possibly the worst client in the history of American ethics, President Trump. Look at the damage the president has done to the reputations and the careers and the freedom of the people around him. Start with the criminal investigations, almost 190 charges by special counsel Mueller, the president’s former national security adviser pleading guilty, his fixer Michael Cohen pleading guilty, and that’s just breaking the law.’
I heard rats float, is that true?
— ? WrasslingFanatic (@ValkyrieToGlory) August 29, 2018
‘The violations of ethics and norms have been even worse, thousands of them, too many to count. That’s an ethics hazard zone, nobody could thrive in that environment.’
The ethics attorney was responsible for keeping all the White House people compliant with government ethics rules. That is a near-impossible job in this administration. He first came to notice after Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway did a virtual ad for daughter of the president and top adviser, Ivanka Trump’s, clothing line on live television.
Ever since Passantino became the ethics attorney in January 2017, he continued to commute between Washington, D.C. and his home in Atlanta, Georgia.
His boss, McGahn, was Trump’s attorney during the campaign and followed him to the White House. The White House counsel has been at his job for nearly two years and had been contemplating a change after he hoped the Congress would approve ultra-conservative Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, a man who is adamantly against investigating the president.
The departing McGahn had his up side and his down side. He managed to keep Trump from firing his Attorney General Jeff Sessions and undermining the Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian election hacking and a Trump campaign conspiracy. In fact, the top attorney in the White House spent 30 hours cooperating with Mueller’s team, which would not have endeared him to this president.
On the other hand, McGahn was the brains behind POTUS placing extremely conservative life-timer judges in the courts. These judges will have a lasting impact.
Trump pink-slipped a surprised McGahn in a tweet:
‘I have worked with Don for a long time and truly appreciate his service!’
Minority Leader of the Senate, Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) noted that the White House was “hollowed out.” White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders commented:
‘(It’s) an intense place, as is every White House…It’s not abnormal that you would have people come and go.’
However, the turnover rate at this White House is extremely fast, much faster than that of any other administration. Walter Shaub, former director of the independent Office of Government Ethics, also resigned his position in July 2017. He said to NPR:
‘The current situation has made it clear that the ethics program needs to be stronger than it is. At the Campaign Legal Center, I’ll have more freedom to push for reform. I’ll also be broadening my focus to include ethics issues at all levels of government.’
Featured image is a screenshot via YouTube.