From all accounts, Donald Trump’s White House is not a fun place to work. Even the president’s second favorite person, adviser Hope Hicks, could not take the part of the job that included House hearings and bailed. Never mind that there is a near-continuous raging volcano named POTUS ready to blow at any moment. The president beat all of his predecessors with the highest turnover rate, but there was this one guy.
Axios’ Jonathan Swan tweeted that one very long-term Trump aide, Johnny DeStefano, will soon leave the White House. Somehow, he managed to stay under the press’ radar and survive the chaos until “this week,” according to The Washington Post.
‘Trump aide DeStefano to finish at White House this week’
DeStefano has been a top adviser who has managed to place himself in the very precarious position between the Republicans and the Trump administration. Now, the aide has chosen to trade the people’s house for the e-cigarette manufacturer, Juul.
‘Beyond grateful to
@realDonaldTrump and @FLOTUS for the opportunity to serve in the best job I’ve ever had. Will very much miss my fantastic colleagues, from WH staff to those in uniform. Was the honor of a lifetime.’
The Kansas City native was a critical contributor in the 2018 midterm political strategy, according to some. When he first started, he manned the Office of Presidential Personnel. His responsibility was finding people to staff the government for a naive administration, no easy task.
In a divided White House, other advisers questioned the strategy he supplied to the president for the 2018 midterm elections. They were uncertain about his messaging and travel suggestions.
Some on the right doubted his sincerity given that he was not a long-time Trump supporter. Plus, DeStefano and some of the Cabinet secretaries did not get along. Former secretary of State Rex Tillerson and he clashed over hiring.
DeStefano plans to leave the White House but not Trump. Although he will serve as a consultant to various corporations, including the e-cigarette manufacturer Juul, the aide will also work on the Trump campaign. Juul is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), The former White House spokesperson for Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, Josh Raffel, moved to Juul last year. The company has been trying to expand its lobbying presence as questions about nicotine and children have surfaced.
National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow released a statement:
‘I love the guy — no one better. Johnny is indefatigable, knowledgeable, worthy of the highest praise, and personnel is policy. He served the President extremely well.’
DeStefano, 40, started out as an aide to Speaker John A. Boehner (R-OH). Although he has been one of the longest-serving staff members in the White House, the beginning was not easy. After all, he was linked to the establishment Republicans.
He managed to stay out of the way by developing close relationships with both former chiefs of staff John Kelly and Reince Priebus. He also spent most of his time away from the madding crowd in his second-floor office.
According to GOP strategists familiar with the White House, DeStefano usually gave Trump good advice and served as a bridge between this most unusual White House and the Republican establishment. His understanding of how Capitol Hill operated allowed the president to get a sense of its inner workings, for example, how the votes were lining up on specific issues.
DeStefano also managed to keep some of the bad ideas from finding their way into policy. In addition, he ran interference from guests accustomed to too much accessibility at Trump’s vacation homes.
He will be one of the very few advisers or Cabinet secretaries to leave on good terms.