behind the scenes drama
May 18, 2019

The Department of Homeland Security has remained embroiled in drama even after the tense resignation of former Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen in April.

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan threatened to leave his post after President Trump's senior adviser Stephen Miller tried to dictate agency hiring, administration officials told The Washington Post on Friday. McAleenan blocked Miller's attempts, but he reportedly made known that he needed to have more control over his agency.

The dispute revolved around former FBI official Mark Morgan, whom Trump selected to be the new director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Miller, though, sought to have Morgan installed as the commissioner of Customs and Border Protection instead. But McAleenan made clear to White House officials, including Trump's chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, that he, not Miller, was the head of the DHS in closed-door meetings. One anonymous Trump aide described the clash as an "immigration knife fight."

McAleenan ultimately prevailed and Morgan will take over as acting ICE director next week. Read more at The Washington Post. Tim O'Donnell

May 8, 2019

In January 2018, Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team fought to keep memos written by former FBI Director James Comey private, over concerns that President Trump and other witnesses would read them and change their stories, according to a court transcript released Tuesday.

In the memos, Comey wrote about Trump asking him for his loyalty and to end the FBI probe into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. Several media outlets sued the Justice Department to make the memos public, but prosecutor Michael Dreeban argued during the closed-door hearing that "in any investigation of this kind, the recollections of one witness, if disclosed to another potential witness, have the potential to influencing, advertently or inadvertently, the recollections of that witness."

The hearing took place at the same time the special counsel's office was trying to schedule an interview with Trump at Camp David, which ultimately fell through, CNN reports. In April 2018, redacted versions of Comey's memos were made public, after copies were sent to Congress. Catherine Garcia

August 31, 2017

To most people he's a decorated former Marine Corps general, but those closest to President Trump see White House Chief of Staff John Kelly as "The Church Lady," The Washington Post reported Thursday.

The Post spoke with more than a dozen senior White House officials and Trump friends and advisers for their look at Trump's relationship with Kelly, who accepted his new position about a month ago so he could bring discipline and order to the Oval Office. This new regime reportedly irks Trump, who misses having his friends call him directly (now, their calls go through Kelly, and don't necessarily get passed along to the president) and their spontaneous White House visits (they must have a meeting scheduled and a purpose for being there).

One Trump friend told the Post that the president is "having a very hard time" and "doesn't like the way the media's handling him. He doesn't like how Kelly's handling him. He's turning on people that are very close to him." Other loyalists agree, and that's why they dubbed Kelly "The Church Lady" — they think he's too strict and feels superior to others. When Kelly's not around, Trump sneaks calls to friends — like former chief strategist Stephen Bannon — on his personal phone, and that's not surprising, friend and former adviser Roger Stone said. Trump "resists being handled," Stone told the Post, and Kelly is attempting to treat him "like a mushroom. Keeping him in the dark and feeding him s--t is not going to work. Donald Trump is a free spirit."

For his part, Kelly is not trying to tell Trump what to do, say, or tweet, White House officials said, and he understands that it's really up to the president to control himself. Read the entire fascinating story — and find out who else Trump is mad at — at The Washington Post. Catherine Garcia

August 28, 2017

Before President Trump even took the stage at his rally in Phoenix last week, George Gigicos' fate was sealed — he would soon be relegated to the discard bin, jostling for room alongside Sean Spicer, Reince Priebus, Stephen Bannon, and Anthony Scaramucci.

Trump was backstage watching the crowd fill the floor of the Phoenix Convention Center, but he was angry when he saw how much empty space there was, one person familiar with his frame of mind told Bloomberg. Trump has always harped about staging and the size of his crowds, famously inflating the number of people who attended his inauguration, and even though more people streamed in the closer it got to Trump's speech, he decided that Gigicos, the man who organized the event, was never going to manage anther one of his rallies, three people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg; Trump didn't give him the message, instead sending his security aide Keith Schiller to break the news. Trump went on to give an animated, heavily panned speech in front of an estimated 10,000 people that included him threatening to shut down the government to get funding for a border wall, ripping apart the media, and lambasting the two Republican U.S. senators from Arizona without ever saying their names.

Gigicos put together all of Trump's major campaign events, and although Trump wasn't always happy with how those turned out, his anger would pass, Bloomberg reports. Gigicos left his role as White House director of advance on July 31 in order to go back to his consulting business, but was still working for Trump's re-election campaign as a contractor to the Republican National Committee. Gigicos, who was one of Trump's longest-serving political aides, declined to comment to Bloomberg. Catherine Garcia

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