Here Are All the Major Trump Team Players Who Heard 'You're Fired!' — or Quit, Been Replaced or Moved On
After 14 months as the White House's acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney will be replaced by Rep. Mark Meadows, President Donald Trump wrote on Twitter on March 6.
"I am pleased to announce that Congressman Mark Meadows will become White House Chief of Staff. I have long known and worked with Mark, and the relationship is a very good one," Trump wrote about the Republican congressman from North Carolina.
The president thanked Mulvaney for "having served the Administration so well."
While Trump did not give a reason for the replacement, he wrote that Mulvaney will become the United States Envoy for Northern Ireland.
It remains unclear if Mulvaney will continue to serve as the director of the Office of Management and Budget, a position he held concurrently with his time as chief of staff.
On Sept. 10, in the manner of his many other professional breakups while in the White House, President Trump abruptly announced he had asked John Bolton, his third national security advisor in three years, to resign.
"I disagreed strongly with many of his suggestions," Trump wrote.
A counter-narrative soon emerged, however, as Bolton reportedly insisted that he had resigned and not been fired. According to the Washington Post, Bolton's ouster after 17 months was the result of multiple deep-seated disagreements about foreign policy and an untenable lack of trust between the president and Bolton.
After Trump fired then-FBI Director James Comey, McCabe was named acting director. But McCabe was eventually fired by former Attorney General Jeff Sessions just 26 hours before he was going to retire. The bold move was interpreted by some as Trump’s retaliation for McCabe’s testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee about Russia and possible collusion, which sparked a very long and public fight with the president.
McCabe has since written a tell-all book called The Threat, which details his views on how Trump has undermined both democracy and the nation’s security with constant attacks on the FBI.
David J. Shulkin
Shulkin claimed he was fired from his position as Veterans Affairs secretary because the Trump administration wanted to move toward privatizing the VA and he was getting in the way. Shulkin wrote an Op-Ed for The New York Times about his concerns and on the same day it was published, Trump announced on Twitter that he had nominated Admiral Ronny L. Jackson to be his replacement.
Shulkin was also accused of using agency funds to pay for a trip that he and his wife went on to Europe, which he vehemently denied. "There was nothing improper about this trip, and I was not allowed to put up an official statement or to even respond to this by the White House,” he told NPR. “I think this was really just being used in a political context to try to make sure that I wasn't as effective as a leader moving forward."
The former White House counsel left his post in August 2018 after a chaotic few years. McGahn was significant in helping add more conservative appeals court and district court judges along with securing Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh as Supreme Court picks. But things with Trump soured as he decided to cooperate extensively with special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, according to The Washington Post. Although he had planned to leave his role, Trump beat him to the punch by tweeting McGahn’s resignation plan without telling McGahn first. Trump selected Washington attorney Pat Cipollone to take his place.
The former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations announced her unexpected resignation in October 2018 and received glowing remarks from President Trump in an unexpected appearance together in the Oval Office. Haley, who had an up-and-down relationship with the president, said that she had found a way to use his erratic leadership style to her advantage. “I’d go back to the ambassadors and say: ‘You know, he’s pretty upset. I can’t promise you what he’s going to do or not, but I can tell you if we do these sanctions, it will keep him from going too far,’ ” she said in an interview with Today.
Heather Nauert, a spokeswoman from the State Department and former Fox & Friends host, was chosen to be Haley’s replacement but she withdrew from consideration because of family concerns.
The former Interior Secretary made a grand entrance on his first day of the job by riding a horse to work. But after almost two years and mounding pressure from the president to resign or get fired, Zinke said he would step down at the end of 2018 and has since been replaced by former oil lobbyist David Bernhardt.
By the end of his term, Zinke was facing several federal investigations, including whether he had used taxpayer resources to advance his own land developments and if he violated the Hatch Act, which prohibits federal employees from using their position of power to influence elections, according to The New York Times.
The former Fox News executive left the White House after eight months — but didn’t leave Trump’s orbit. Shine decided in March 2019 to resign from his role as the White House communications director so he could devote his energy into getting the president re-elected in 2020.
Shine was brought on during a time when Trump was reportedly growing more frustrated with the negative press coverage surrounding his administration. Although sources close to the matter said that the president had lost some confidence in the former TV exec, who was forced out of his last job for his handling of sexual harassment scandals at Fox News, he wished Shine well and thanked him for doing an “outstanding job,” according to Bloomberg. Shine was the fifth communications director under Trump.
The U.S. Secretary of the Air Force announced in a letter to President Trump that she plans to resign from her post in late May 2019. She is expected to be the next president of the University of Texas at El Paso.
Tensions began to grow between Wilson and Trump once Trump announced that he wanted to create a space force, which Wilson said it would cost approximately $13 billion over five years to complete, according to NPR.
In retrospect, the job of White House communications director appeared snake-bitten from the very start. Miller was appointed to the role on December 22, 2016, and just two days later, Miller confirmed that he wouldn't be taking the job. He cited his family, saying they needed to be his "top priority." Miller had been a part of Team Trump since joining the campaign in June 2016, according to CNN.
Yates lasted as long as Scaramucci: 10 days on Team Trump. As Deputy Attorney General under President Obama since 2013, Yates took the post of acting Attorney General on the day of Trump's inauguration, January 20, 2017. She was fired on January 30, 2017 after announcing that Justice Department lawyers would not defend the president's so-called travel ban in any legal challenges to his executive order closing the nation’s borders to refugees and people from predominantly Muslim countries.
In May, she was back in the spotlight, testifying before a Senate Judiciary subcommittee about how she had warned the Trump White House that then-National Security Adviser Michael Flynn had hidden his contacts with Russian nationals.
One of the most talked-about departures in the Trump administration so far, Flynn was out as National Security Adviser on February 13, 2017, less than a month into Trump's presidency, according to the New York Times. The move came after it was revealed that Flynn misled Vice President Mike Pence, among other White House officials, about his level of contacts with Russia. The Justice Department warned the White House about Flynn's Russian connections and how they might have left him vulnerable to blackmail, according to The Washington Post.
Kathleen Troia (K.T.) McFarland
McFarland, who served as the deputy National Security Adviser, was asked to step down on April 9, 2017 by Trump's second National Security Adviser, H.R. McMaster, according to Bloomberg, as he moved to assemble his own team.
Things are all good between McFarland and Trump, however: In May, he nominated McFarland to be the United States ambassador to Singapore.
Comey wasn't appointed by Trump. It was President Obama who named Comey to the standard 10-year term of FBI Director in 2013. On May 9, 2017, Spicer announced that Trump fired Comey, marking only the second time in history that an FBI Director has been fired by a sitting president. A special counsel is now investigating whether Trump firing Comey was an attempt at obstruction of justice in the ongoing federal investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
After three months on the job, Republican strategist Dubke resigned his post as White House communications director on May 18, 2017, amid frustration from President Trump over his administration's messaging operation.
One of the most talked-about members of the Trump White House—complete with a wildly popular Saturday Night Live doppleganger in Melissa McCarthy—Spicer resigned as press secretary on July 21, 2017, the same day Trump brought Scaramucci aboard. The Washington Post reported that Spicer and Scaramucci had a strained relationship in the past. Spicer had been appointed to the White House's most high-profile staff position on December 22, 2016.
The former chairman of the Republican National Committee was one of Trump's first appointments, named White House Chief of Staff just five days after the election last November. He also proved one of Trump's most unceremonious firings. The day after Scaramucci accused Priebus of leaking to the press, Trump announced in July 2017 —on Twitter—that Homeland Security Secretary General John Kelly would be taking Priebus' job.
“Look, the president wanted to go a different direction," Priebus told CNN's Wolf Blitzer in his first exit interview. "I support him in that.”
According to CNN, he's the shortest-serving Chief of Staff in White House history.
An aide to Trump, Harvey was his senior director for the Middle East on the National Security Council. According to Politico, he was let go by National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, who replaced Michael Flynn. “McMaster wants his own guy,” a White House aide told Politico. Harvey was dismissed on July 27, 2017.
One of the shortest-lived members of the Trump administration, Scaramucci was fired even before his official August 15, 2017 start date as White House Communications Director. But he logged plenty of eye-popping headlines in the 10 days between his July 21 appointment and his July 31 termination: an expletive-packed interview to The New Yorker, in which he insulted his new White House colleagues; reports that his wife, Deidre Scaramucci, had filed for divorce on July 6 while nine months pregnant at the time of the divorce filing; and criticism that he skipped the birth of his son to be with Trump.
Sources told the New York Times that Trump approved Scaramucci's firing at the request of new White House chief of staff General John Kelly.
Almost exactly a year to the day after he was hired to run Trump's campaign (on August 17, 2016), Bannon is out at the White House. On August 18, his nearly eight-month tenure came to a close, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement. “White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and Steve Bannon have mutually agreed today would be Steve’s last day,” the statement read. “We are grateful for his service and wish him the best."
Bannon was appointed to the position of Chief Strategist on November 14, 2016, according to CNN, after running Trump's campaign for the last few months before the election. There were protests at the news of his hiring due to his past role as executive chairman of Breitbart News, a far-right website that has earned criticism for publishing sexist and racist articles. The news of his departure comes in the aftermath of the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. Following the rally, Trump faced pressure on social media to remove Bannon from his staff, with the hashtag #FireBannon trending on Twitter.
Cohen-Watnick was the senior director for intelligence programs on the National Security Council until August 2, 2017, when his departure was confirmed by the White House in a statement that read: "[National Security Adviser H.R.] McMaster appreciates the good work accomplished in the NSC's Intelligence directorate under Ezra Cohen's leadership. He has determined that, at this time, a different set of experiences is best-suited to carrying that work forward. General McMaster is confident that Ezra will make many further significant contributions to national security in another position in the administration." According to the Conservative Review, which first reported the news, McMaster has previously attempted to remove Cohen-Watnick, who worked on the Trump transition team, but was stymied by Senior Adviser Jared Kushner, Chief Strategist Steve Bannon and President Trump himself.
The former Secretary of Health and Human Services resigned from his post on Sept. 29, 2017, according to NBC News. His departure comes in the midst of a scandal involving Price's use of private jets to travel for government business. Multiple investigations have been opened into looking at Price's use of the jets, which cost at least $400,000 of taxpayer dollars, according to the New York Times. Trump himself criticized Price's choice, saying that he "didn't like the optics" of the situation. Price said that he would write a check for $51,887.31 to help make up for the spending, which he said was the cost of his own seat on the flights.
"I regret the concerns this has raised regarding the use of taxpayer dollars," Price said in a statement on Sept. 28. "All of my political career I’ve fought for the taxpayers. It is clear to me that in this case, I was not sensitive enough to my concern for the taxpayer."
Price had already come under fire with Trump for the failed efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare. At the National Scout Jamboree in July, Trump said that he'd tell Price "you're fired" if they did not get the votes to pass the repeal.
Hicks — Trump's fourth Communications Director in just over a year — announced her impending departure from the White House in February 2018 following her testimony in front of a congressional investigative committee. During the eight-hour meeting with the House Intelligence Commitee, Hicks reportedly said that she's occasionally told "white lies" on Trump's behalf, though never dealing with the Russia investigation, according to the New York Times. After Trump reportedly "berated" her, according to CNN, she handed in her resignation.
Previously, Hicks has been mentioned in the scandal surrounding former White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter, who resigned after accusations of domestic abuse from both of his ex-wives came to light — and White House officials reportedly knew about the allegations and attempted to hide them, according to CNN. Porter was also using an interim security clearance, and wasn't able to have a permanent one because of the allegations, CNN reported. However, he was still handling classified information. And The Daily Mail also reported that Porter and Hicks had a romantic relationship, and that she was involved in the cover-up of the allegations, including helping Chief of Staff John Kelly write a statement defending Porter.
Top economic adviser Gary Cohn confirmed his departure from the White House in March 2018 after breaking with President Donald Trump on trade policy. The former Goldman Sachs executive who was appointed as the director of the National Economic Council had been the leading internal opponent to Trump’s planned tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum, working to orchestrate an eleventh-hour effort in recent days to get Trump to reverse course. But Trump resisted those efforts, and reiterated Tuesday he will be imposing tariffs in the coming days.
The outgoing secretary of state was reportedly blindsided by Trump's ousting of him, learning the news the same way as everyone else — on Twitter in March 2018. It was a shock for the former head of ExxonMobil, and the rawness was underscored by a statement State Department Under Secretary Steve Goldstein gave to CBS News. Goldstein said Tillerson “had every intention of staying because of the critical progress made in national security.”
In March 2018, Trump replaced the national security adviser with John Bolton, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. McMaster, a respected three-star general, succeeded the president's first national security adviser, Michael Flynn
Homeland security adviser Bossert's departure from the White House comes just after the arrival of newly-instated national security adviser John Bolton in April 2018. According to CNN, Bolton was the one who pushed for Bossert's exit, hoping to put his own team in place. Before working for Trump, Bossert had previously been a part of George W. Bush's administration.
After 17 months in office, the administrator of the Environmental Protection agency resigned on July 5, 2018. Pruitt is currently the subject of at least 13 federal investigations which the EPA inspector general will continue to review even after the resignation.
On Dec. 20, 2018, Trump announced Defense Secretary Mattis' departure. "Because you have the right to have a Secretary of Defense whose views are better aligned with yours on these and other subjects, I believe it is right for me to step down from my position," Mattis wrote in his resignation letter.
Trump announced Nielsen was leaving on Twitter April 7, writing, "Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen will be leaving her position, and I would like to thank her for her service."
The deputy attorney general submitted his resignation on April 29 after a two-year run, according to Rosenstein's letter obtained by CNN. His leave, which is effective May 11, marks the end of a term during which Rosenstein was targeted by Trump for hiring Robert Mueller in 2017.
L. Francis Cissna
The Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services resigned on May 24 at Trump's request, effective June 1. Former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli is expected to be the next director of USCIS within the Department of Homeland Security.
On June 1, Trump announced the departure of White House lawyer Emmet Flood on Twitter, writing, "Emmet Flood, who came to the White House to help me with the Mueller Report, will be leaving service on June 14th," Trump wrote. "He has done an outstanding job – NO COLLUSION - NO OBSTRUCTION! Case Closed! Emmet is my friend, and I thank him for the GREAT JOB he has done." Flood is set to leave on June 14.
Sarah Huckabee Sanders
Trump announced her departure on Twitter on June 13 after her 22-month tenure, writing in the first of two tweets, "After 3 1/2 years, our wonderful Sarah Huckabee Sanders will be leaving the White House at the end of the month and going home to the Great State of Arkansas."
Trump’s reference to the governorship of Arkansas comes amid speculation Sanders will run for office, as CNN reported sources said she has "floated" the possibility in "private conversations in recent weeks." However, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson was re-elected in November 2018, and the next election is in January 2023.
The Department of Labor Secretary announced his resignation on July 12 on Twitter after he and Trump told reporters that Acosta informed the president in a phone call. "This was him not me," Trump said amid the Jeffrey Epstein scandal, in which both he and Acosta have been connected to.
Acosta also noted how the Epstein case was becoming a distraction for the White House, adding, "what this administration needs to focus" is improving the economy.