To work for President Donald Trump is to feel his wrath.
That the White House – or any White House – would be the scene of internal debate or power struggles is hardly surprising. But while most presidents try to keep their distance from the daily drama, Trump seems to seek it out.
Inside his motley administration, Trump is constantly judging, assessing and – most colorfully – complaining about his staff. National security adviser Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster is the latest official to come under the gun, reportedly, according to one Bloomberg post, for undermining his boss.
Note here: Officials have denied reports of a rift to CNN.
If the story is true, McMaster would hardly be alone. The White House doghouse has, at various times and in various news reports, been inhabited by everyone from top aide Kellyanne Conway to Trump’s seemingly untouchable son-in-law Jared Kushner. Ironically, one person who has mostly escaped a public rebuke is Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn – the same guy who was fired for misleading Vice President Mike Pence about his contacts with Russian operatives. Trump has maintained that Flynn did nothing wrong, Pence conversation aside, and has been one of his most vocal supporters as the Russia probe continues in Congress.
Others haven’t been so lucky. Here’s a brief rundown of their transgressions as reported by CNN and other news outlets.
Press Secretary Sean Spicer
The administration wasn’t a day old when Spicer first stepped in it.
Ordered by the boss to argue, against all and ample evidence, that Trump had been celebrated by the “largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period, both in person and around the globe,” Spicer gathered reporters to pass along the message. His delivery didn’t go over well. Not with the press and not with Trump, who didn’t like the cut of Spicer’s jib – or suit.
White House Adviser Kellyanne Conway
The former campaign manager was one of the leading voices of the administration – until around the end of February. At issue: Conway’s penchant for going “off message.”
Perhaps more so than her references to the imaginary “Bowling Green Massacre” or “alternative facts,” it was Conway’s declaration, during an interview on MSNBC, that former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn had Trump’s “full confidence.”
Flynn was fired a day later. Conway was briefly sidelined from television appearances and has since kept a lower profile, as noted by Saturday Night Live this week.
Trump’s campaign was on the fritz when Bannon and Conway joined up during the summer of 2016. Their efforts revived and helped vault to Trump into the White House. But the perception that Bannon was guiding Trump’s every move – acting, as critics suggested, like a shadow president – irked Trump. When his strategist was featured on the cover of Time magazine, described as “The Great Manipulator,” the frustration grew.
A few days after its release, Trump tweeted: “I call my own shots, largely based on an accumulation of data, and everyone knows it. Some FAKE NEWS media, in order to marginalize, lies!”
Trump offered a similar assessment months later, when he downplayed Bannon’s role in reviving his campaign.
“I like Steve, but you have to remember he was not involved in my campaign until very late,” Trump told the New York Post in April. “I had already beaten all the senators and all the governors, and I didn’t know Steve. I’m my own strategist and it wasn’t like I was going to change strategies because I was facing crooked Hillary.”
Senior staff and communications team/Attorney General Jeff Sessions
The former Alabama Senator was one of Trump’s first high profile backers and, by all accounts, has maintained a relatively drama-free relationship with the White House.
But even then, Sessions did stir up some frustration – even if it was directed at White House staffers – when he recused himself from any investigation into Trump’s presidential campaign. This followed a revelation that Sessions, during his confirmation hearings, failed to disclose two earlier meetings with the Russian ambassador to Washington.
“Nobody has seen (Trump) that upset,” a source told CNN back in March. The President blamed his team for not forcefully pushing back against the story and, in his thinking, allowing the media to dictate Sessions’ decision.
Chief of Staff Reince Priebus
Trump and Priebus are perhaps the oddest couple in the White House. The former Republican National Committee boss spent the first months of the GOP primary trying to tame Trump, eventually joining the band when the insurgent candidate turned into the nominee.
His selection as chief of staff, traditionally the most powerful White House job, was mitigated by the announcement – delivered in the same press release – that Bannon would, effectively, be his equal. Since then, Priebus’s job security has been in near constant question. When the first run at overhauling Obamacare in the House failed, Priebus, a longtime ally of House Speaker Paul Ryan, took extra heat.
Had it not been for the health care bill’s narrow escape last week, the New York Times recently reported, Priebus might have been a goner.
White House adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner
The husband of Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, Kushner has been given an almost comically long slate of responsibilities, from raising peace in the Middle East to reorganizing the federal government.
Those efforts are still, well, ongoing. But while Trump figures to patient there, he was reportedly miffed when Kushner went on vacation during the first, failed attempt to undo Obamacare in the House. While the bill’s prospects were going downhill, Kushner and family were doing the same – on a mountain, skiing, in Aspen, Colorado.
“(Trump) is upset that his son-in-law and senior adviser was not around during this crucial week,” a source close to the President told CNN in March. Kushner stuck around for the more successful May 4 vote.