another one bites the dust
February 7, 2019

Scandals aren't just for Virginia Democrats anymore.

After a blackface photo was revealed to be on Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam's (D) yearbook page, and after Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax (D) was accused of sexual assault, the state's Attorney General Mark Herring (D) admitted he too wore blackface in college. And now, it seems the state's top Republican, state Senate Majority Leader Tommy Norment, was in charge of a college yearbook similarly packed with racism, The Virginian-Pilot reports.

Norment attended the Virginia Military Institute and was the managing editor of its 1968 yearbook, which was published just before VMI's first black students were allowed to enroll that fall. The Pilot didn't find any explicit racist behavior from Norment on those pages. But there are several pictures of students in blackface inside, along with at least one use of the n-word and other anti-Asian and anti-Semitic slurs. When asked about the yearbook Thursday, Norment said "the only thing I'm talking about today is the budget."

Northam also attended VMI, and a yearbook from his time at the school listed one of his nicknames as "Coonman." Northam has not addressed that nickname, but has said he is not one of men in blackface or Ku Klux Klan robes on his medical school yearbook page, and has refused calls to resign. Fairfax has said the alleged 2004 sexual assault was "consensual."

Norment isn't in line for the Virginia governorship; If Northam, Fairfax, and Herring all step aside, House of Delegates Speaker Kirk Cox (R) will become governor. Cox literally got his speaker job thanks to a coin toss, and if it turns out he did something unsavory and resigns himself, the House of Delegates will have to pick a new governor. Kathryn Krawczyk

January 6, 2019

Defense Department Chief of Staff Kevin Sweeney resigned Saturday evening.

"After two years in the Pentagon, I've decided the time is right to return to the private sector," he said in a brief statement. "It has been an honor to serve again alongside the men and women of the Department of Defense."

This is the third major departure from the Pentagon in recent weeks, following the exits of Defense Secretary James Mattis and Brett McGurk, the United States' special presidential envoy for the global coalition to counter the Islamic State, over President Trump's announcement of intent to withdraw from Syria. Bonnie Kristian

December 15, 2018

President Trump on Twitter Saturday morning announced Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke is leaving his administration by year's end:

Trump did not say whether Zinke resigned or was fired.

Zinke's tenure at Interior has been marred by allegations of unethical conduct which have reportedly troubled Trump and prompted a Justice Department investigation. His policy proposals have included privatizing campgrounds on public land, shrinking national monument land, and raising national park visitor fees to cover renovations.

This announcement comes one day after Trump said Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budget and acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, will step in as acting White House chief of staff. A Politico report in late October indicated further turnover in the already volatile administration was likely following the midterm elections. Bonnie Kristian

November 29, 2018

Yet another of President Trump's judicial nominees has spent the last week taking the controversy test. But this time, he failed to pass.

Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), the chamber's only black Republican, said Thursday he'd vote against the nomination of Thomas Farr to become a North Carolina federal judge. Scott joins Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) to defeat the nomination of Farr, who's been accused of defending a law that slashed minority voters' rights.

As a North Carolina attorney, Farr defended what a court eventually ruled was "the most restrictive voting law North Carolina has seen since the era of Jim Crow," per The Washington Post. That led all 49 Democrats and Flake to vote against moving his nomination forward on Wednesday, prompting Vice President Mike Pence to break a tie and advance Farr's case.

Still, three Republicans who'd initially voted for Farr — Sens. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Susan Collins (Maine), and Scott — were still considering ultimately voting against him. Scott became the first to affirm he'd block the controversial nominee with a Thursday statement.

Flake, meanwhile, has said he'd vote against every judicial nominee in a protest against Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's (R-Ky.) refusal to call a vote on a bill protecting Special Counsel Robert Mueller. He did say Thursday he'd vote against Farr regardless of the Mueller bill. Kathryn Krawczyk

October 6, 2018

Office of Personnel Management chief Jeff Pon resigned Friday after about eight months on the job, an announcement little noticed amid the furor over Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

A White House statement on Pon's departure did not say why he is leaving. For now, his duties will be assumed by Margaret Weichert, deputy director for management at the White House Office of Management and Budget. Weichert will also keep her current role.

"The broader objectives of the president's management agenda are focusing on driving and really modernizing how we think about governing and our workforce in the 21st century," Weichert said of her new responsibilities. "The president wants me to continue the work that we are doing around the president's management agenda."

Pon is the latest in a long list of administration officials to quit. Resignations and firings have accumulated at a record-setting rate in the Trump White House. Bonnie Kristian

June 27, 2018

Everett Eissenstat, one of the Trump administration's top economic advisers, is leaving his post in July.

Eissenstat was once a top aide to Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and chief Republican trade counsel for the Senate Finance Committee. Since becoming a senior White House official last year, Eissenstat has represented Trump at several international meetings, including the G7 summit this month in Canada, which ended with Trump leaving early after refusing to sign a joint statement from all the countries.

"Everett was a consummate professional and a valued member of the White House staff," White House Chief of Staff John Kelly said in a statement. "We will miss his deep expertise, commitment to duty, and skillful management of the National Economic and National Security Council's international team." People with knowledge of the matter told Politico that Eissenstat has spent the last few weeks looking for a new job, but does not have anything secured yet. Catherine Garcia

April 8, 2018

Michael Anton announced Sunday that he is leaving his position as National Security Council spokesman to work at Hillsdale College's Kirby Center as a writer and lecturer.

"I will be forever grateful to President Trump for the opportunity to serve my country and implement his agenda," he said. One of the more outspoken conservative intellectuals who defended Trump during his campaign, Anton was brought aboard by former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. Flynn's replacement, H.R. McMaster, left the White House on Friday, and Trump's third national security adviser, John Bolton, starts Monday.

Trump has "nothing but good things to say" about Anton, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told Politico, and she called him one of the "smartest and most talented individuals I've ever worked with." Anton did not give a departure date, but he's expected to leave within the next few weeks. Catherine Garcia

February 10, 2018

A second White House staffer on Friday followed Rob Porter in resigning his position over domestic abuse allegations. Former speechwriter David Sorensen left his role after his ex-wife, Jessica Corbett, told The Washington Post he "ran a car over her foot, put out a cigarette on her hand, threw her into a wall, and grasped her menacingly by her hair while they were alone on their boat in remote waters off Maine's coast, an incident she said left her fearing for her life."

Corbett said she shared these accusations with the FBI months ago when Sorensen was subject to a background check. The FBI declined to comment to the Post.

Sorensen has denied all allegations. "I have never committed violence of any kind against any woman in my entire life," he said in a statement to CNN. "In fact, I was the victim of repeated physical violence during our marriage, not her." Corbett said the most she did was slap Sorensen repeatedly "after he called her a vulgar term." Bonnie Kristian

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