Thursday, 14 December, 2017

Top Trump aide exits as wider White House overhaul expected

Velma Reese | 02 June, 2017, 03:02

But it remains unclear whether the president might envision them working inside the White House or in outside roles.

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway told The Associated Press on Tuesday that Dubke resigned before Trump left for his worldwide trip earlier this month, suggesting that his departure is not linked to any pending shake-ups.

Trump, who returned to Washington on Saturday after a nine-day trip to the Middle East and Europe, has been expected to shake up staff to tackle the firestorm over investigations into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and communication between Russia and Trump's campaign and transition team. His connections to Capitol Hill could be an asset to a White House hoping to bolster those relationships, but, like other top advisers now serving Trump, he doesn't bring prior White House experience to the table.

The disclosure of the back channel has put the White House on the defensive. Moscow has denied U.S. intelligence agencies' conclusion that it meddled in the campaign to try to tilt the election in Trump's favour.

"They have talked to many people, including me", Bossie said.

White House chief of staff Reince Priebus thanked Dubke in a statement and said he had "offered to remain onboard until a transition is concluded".

While overseas, Trump's longtime lawyer, Marc Kasowitz, joined a still-forming legal team to help the president shoulder the intensifying investigations into Russian interference in the election and Trump associates' potential involvement.

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Mr Lewandowski was forced out in June past year amid reports of a power struggle with Jared Kushner, Mr Trump's son-in-law and a senior White House adviser. TheWashington Postreported Friday that Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak told his superiors in Moscow that Kushner had proposed a secret channel between Trump and the Kremlin and had suggested using Russian diplomatic facilities in the United States for the communications. The person wasn't authorized to publicly discuss private policy deliberations and insisted on anonymity.

The termination comes as the role of President Trump's senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner is also under Federal Bureau of Investigation scrutiny for his alleged establishment of a back-channel of communications with the Kremlin during the transition.

There's also concern inside some White House factions that bringing in the "old gang" may derail the president's agenda by triggering defections inside the West Wing.

Flynn handed in his resignation in February, ousted on grounds that he had misled top White House officials about his contacts with Russian officials.

When Dubke was hired - after an extended search - the spin from Trump allies was that Dubke being brought on was a sign of Trump's willingness to step outside his small circle of loyal advisers to find talent. In fact, majorities of all Americans thought Trump's main spokespeople - such as counselor Kellyanne Conway and Press Secretary Sean Spicer - did more harm than good.

In his return to the White House briefing room Tuesday after a two-week absence, Spicer showed off his pugilistic side, taking aim at members of the press for their reporting on everything from the shakeup rumors to Trump's foreign trip. Spicer discussed ongoing possible connections to Jared Kushner and Russians as well as the president's worldwide trip.

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