Donald Trump 'Forgave' Personal Assistant Who Reportedly Shared Info About His Kids, Including Tiffany and Ivanka
"She is a very good person," Trump tweeted Saturday of Madeleine Westerhout
The 28-year-old, an Oval Office gatekeeper since Trump took office in 2017, was reportedly forced out of her job on Thursday after she had spoken indelicately about the Trump family at an off-the-record dinner with the press last month.
On Twitter on Saturday, Trump wrote that Westerhout had “called me yesterday to apologize. … I fully understood and forgave her!”
According to Politico, which first reported Westerhout’s remarks, she had been drinking when “in an uncharacteristically unguarded moment, she opened up to the reporters,” a source told the outlet.
Westerhout also said that the president felt Tiffany, 25, was overweight and didn’t like being photographed with her because of that, according to Politico. The president later denied this, telling reporters, “[Tiffany] is a wonderful person. … She’s a great student.”
The New York Times, citing its own sources, reported that at the off-the-record dinner Westerhout had discussed “Trump’s eating habits; his youngest son, Barron Trump; and his thoughts about [Tiffany’s] weight and appearance.”
After learning of her comments more than a week later, the president, 73, came to agree last Thursday that Westerhout should resign, the Times reported. (The White House declined to comment to PEOPLE on the record; Westerhout did not return a request for comment but declined to speak with Politico.)
“She is a very good person,” he tweeted Saturday of Westerhout, echoing what he told reporters at the White House the previous day when asked about the unusual drama. Though notoriously leaky, the Trump administration has rarely seen officials publicly confirmed as loose lipped.
“I really think she had a bad night. I think it was unfortunate. She said she was drinking, and the whole thing was very unfortunate,” Trump told reporters on Friday at the White House.
Trump declined to describe Westerhout’s dismissal as a firing — “I think it was automatic” — and partially blamed the “very dishonest” press for Westerhout’s decision to be candid at an off-the-record gathering.
“I always felt she did a good job,” he said, adding, “She called, and I wish her well.”
Westerhout’s reported comments were unusual in another way: for dishing to outsiders about the Trump children, who are largely seen as off-limits. (Ivanka and her husband, Jared Kushner, are both White House aides; sons Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump run their father’s real estate company. Tiffany is in law school and Barron is in school in Washington, D.C.)
“She mentioned a couple of things about my children,” Trump told the press on Friday, without elaborating.
“You don’t say things like she said, which were just a little bit hurtful to some people,” he said.
Asked whether it was true that he didn’t like being photographed with Tiffany, the president said, “Oh, no. No. Tiffany is great. I love Tiffany.”
He said Friday he was going to speak with her by phone soon: “I’m going to say it’s just absolutely false. She is a wonderful person. She studies so hard. She’s a great student.”
In an interview with The Atlantic published earlier this year, Trump sounded off on each of his children. He shares Don Jr., Eric and Ivanka with first wife Ivana Trump. Tiffany is his only child with second wife Marla Maples, who raised Tiffany on the West Coast after their split. He and First Lady Melania Trump share Barron.
“If [Ivanka] ever wanted to run for president, I think she’d be very, very hard to beat,” he told The Atlantic.
Of his other kids, he said, “Barron is young, but he’s got wonderful potential. And Tiffany’s doing extremely well. Don is, uh, he’s enjoying politics; actually, it’s very good. And Eric is running the business along with Don and also very much into politics. I mean, the children — the children have been very, very good.”