For all the schadenfreude-y zeal it brought him in his past life, it seems the President doesn’t much like saying “You’re Fired!” to his verging-on-former employee’s faces. A ranked compendium of ways to have your White House pass revoked.
1. On Twitter: According to now former Undersecretary of State Steve Goldstein, Rex Tillerson learned he was fired when the president tweeted out his replacement (despite reports that John Kelly called to warn Tillerson). When Trump was asked if he fired the Secretary of State for calling him a “moron,” the President feigned being hard of hearing. When the White House heard that Goldstein was contradicting the official account, he was also fired, making this humiliating for everyone involved. Thus it takes the top spot.
Mike Pompeo, Director of the CIA, will become our new Secretary of State. He will do a fantastic job! Thank you to Rex Tillerson for his service! Gina Haspel will become the new Director of the CIA, and the first woman so chosen. Congratulations to all!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 13, 2018
2. On TV: James Comey learned he was out of work from TV news that was playing in the background while he addressed agents at the FBI’s LA bureau. The former Director thought they were playing an elaborate prank on him.
3. In a car you find out isn’t going anywhere: Reince Priebus alighted Air Force One and boarded an SUV with other White House staffers only to then watch those staffers leave the car. The former Chief of Staff’s SUV pulled over, separating from the motorcade. The President sat on the plane while, I like to imagine, Priebus filmed his Bachelor-style exit confessional: “I don’t know what I could have done differently, you know? Why does this always happen?”
4. From New Dad: Firing Comms Director Anthony Scaramucci was one of new-but-soon-to-be-old Chief of Staff John Kelly’s first orders of business upon moving his stuff into the White House and hanging his medals in the half of the closet that used to belong to Priebus.
5. In a sea of confusion: When Omarosa Manigault was fired, it happened with trademark chaos. After months of speculation that she was not in fact doing anything, she screamed profanities at Kelly before being physically removed from the White House.
6. The Office Space method: Leandra English, the CFPB’s deputy director and therefore, legally, it’s acting chief is not technically fired. It’s just that another person, OMB head Mick Mulvaney, has been hired to do the exact same job that she’s supposedly doing. But she’s not fired. Technically. She can still come to work. But just don’t touch anything.
7. The Quick Out: Trump’s personal assistant John McEntee—more famous for being the UConn QB who released a trick shot video that went viral than for being the president’s valet—was fired after being denied a security clearance due to online gambling and mishandled taxes. He was urgently escorted from premises without time to clean out his desk or even grab his jacket.
8. This one was ice cold: Acting Attorney General Sally Yates was informed she was fired for refusing to defend the travel ban two minutes before reporters were notified. Publicly, the White House accused her of having “betrayed” the Justice Department where she worked for 30 years. According to Michael Wolff’s book Fire & Fury, the President privately called her a “cunt.”
9. Perhaps prematurely: Sean Spicer apparently left his post of press secretary of his own volition (and against Trump’s wishes) after unsuccessfully opposing the hiring of Scaramucci. The Mooch’s tenure lasted all of 10 days.
10. So did he break up with you or did you both just agree that it wasn’t working really anymore?: Adviser Sebastian Gorka’s letter of resignation to Trump was published on the Federalist, citing the systematic removal of pro-MAGA forces as a cause of departure. The White House, for its part, confirmed that Gorka didn’t work there anymore, but noted that he did not actually resign.
And truly the most exceptional case: After a series of disagreements over new steel tariffs, top economic adviser Gary Cohn resigned. His departure is expected in coming weeks while the White House publicly considers a possible replacement, likely Larry Kudlow. It’s been bewilderingly civil.