The Fix

‘You’re fired’: A timeline of Team Trump departures

“You’re fired!” It’s the phrase for which Donald Trump was best known before he moved into the White House. But as president, dismissing subordinates hasn’t been quite so clear-cut.

Of the dozens who have left President Trump’s orbit thus far, at least 10 were outright firings. The others fall in the murkier “resignation” pool.

Here are the most notable exits, beginning with the most recent, since Trump took office Jan. 20, 2017.

Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post

Resigning | December 20, 2018

Gen. Jim Mattis

Defense secretary

Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post

A day after President Trump startled aides and allies by announcing the United States had defeated the Islamic State militant group in Syria and that all U.S. troops would withdraw immediately, the president tweeted Dec. 20 that his secretary of defense, Jim Mattis, would be “retiring” at the end of February. Mattis, a retired Marine general who served in the post for two years, had resigned earlier that day after clashing with Trump on the Syria decision. Mattis pushed for continued U.S. commitments in the country.

Resigning | December 15, 2018

Ryan Zinke

Interior secretary

Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke submitted his resignation to the White House on Dec. 15, after weeks of intense pressure to step down. Zinke faced multiple investigations tied to his conduct while in office and to real estate dealings in his home state of Montana. Trump announced the secretary’s exit via Twitter and said Zinke will leave his post by the end of the year.

Zinke, one of four Trump Cabinet members to leave office while under investigation, lost White House support in October when Interior’s inspector general referred one of its inquiries to the Justice Department, according to Washington Post reporting.

Resigning | December 15, 2018

Ryan Zinke

Interior secretary

Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke submitted his resignation to the White House on Dec. 15, after weeks of intense pressure to step down. Zinke faced multiple investigations tied to his conduct while in office and to real estate dealings in his home state of Montana. Trump announced the secretary’s exit via Twitter and said Zinke will leave his post by the end of the year.

Zinke, one of four Trump Cabinet members to leave office while under investigation, lost White House support in October when Interior’s inspector general referred one of its inquiries to the Justice Department, according to Washington Post reporting.

Will leave by end of year | December 8, 2018

John F. Kelly

Chief of staff

Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post

President Trump confirmed that White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly will leave his position by the end of the year. Kelly has served as chief of staff since July 2017 and was Trump’s homeland security secretary before that. White House officials had previously said Kelly would serve as chief of staff through 2020. Trump clashed with Kelly’s management style and resisted Kelly’s attempts to instill discipline in the White House.

Resigned | Nov. 7, 2018

Jeff Sessions

U.S. attorney general

Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post

Attorney General Jeff Sessions submitted his resignation letter to President Trump the day after the 2018 midterm election.

Sessions was the first U.S. senator to endorse Donald Trump’s bid for the White House, and in many ways he has been the biggest supporter of the president’s policies on immigration, crime and law enforcement.

But those areas of agreement were overshadowed by the attorney general’s recusal from the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Trump has never forgiven Sessions for that decision, which he regarded as an act of disloyalty that denied him the protection he believed he deserved from his attorney general.

Resigning | Oct. 9, 2018

Nikki Haley

U.S. ambassador to the U.N.

Stephanie Keith/Getty Images

On the morning of Oct. 9, President Trump tweeted that he would be making a “big announcement” in the Oval Office with his “friend” Nikki Haley, the U.N. ambassador and former Republican governor of South Carolina. Reports that she was resigning were confirmed when Trump, sitting beside Haley, announced that she was leaving the administration at the end of 2018. The president said she could return in any capacity, if she wished. “She has been very special to me, done an incredible job,” Trump said. Haley said she had no next plans, but quashed speculation she’d run for president in 2020. She intends to campaign for Trump, she said.

Stepped down | Aug. 29, 2018

Donald McGahn

White House counsel

Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

President Trump announced on Twitter that Donald McGahn would be leaving in the fall, writing the departure would come “shortly after the confirmation (hopefully) of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the United States Supreme Court.” McGahn has been a presence at Trump’s side since the early days of the 2016 presidential campaign. “I have worked with Don for a long time and truly appreciate his service!” Trump wrote in the tweet. It was widely known that McGahn planned to step down after the confirmation, but a source close to him said the tweet caught McGahn by surprise.

Resigned | July 5, 2018

Scott Pruitt

Environmental Protection Agency administrator

Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post

Facing more than a dozen federal inquiries scrutinizing his abuses of power as EPA administrator, Scott Pruitt resigned in early July. Reports of ethical lapses and questionable spending had been trickling out for months, including on his expensive travel and elaborate security measures. President Trump tweeted that he had accepted Pruitt’s resignation and that EPA Deputy Administrator Andrew Wheeler would become acting administrator. “Within the Agency Scott has done an outstanding job, and I will always be thankful to him for this,” Trump tweeted. “…We have made tremendous progress and the future of the EPA is very bright!”

Stepping down | June 18, 2018

Joe Hagin

White House deputy chief of staff for operations

Alex Brandon/AP

Joe Hagin, the White House deputy chief of staff for operations who has served in every Republican White House since President Ronald Reagan’s, will leave the Trump administration in July. Hagin planned Trump’s summit with North Korea in Singapore in early June and is an ally of Chief of Staff John F. Kelly. A White House official said Hagin had planned to stay with the administration for only a year but was persuaded to remain there an additional six months.

Stepping down | May 2, 2018

Ty Cobb

White House attorney

Jerry Cleveland/The Denver Post/AP

Trump attorney Ty Cobb, the White House point person in dealing with special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, is stepping down, according to senior administration officials. Emmet T. Flood, a defense lawyer and partner at Williams & Connolly, is expected to replace him. Flood helped President Bill Clinton during his impeachment proceedings in the 1990s. "For several weeks, Ty Cobb has been discussing his retirement and last week he let Chief of Staff Kelly know he would retire at the end of this month," press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement.

Resigned | April 10, 2018

Tom Bossert

Homeland security adviser

Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post

An ally of former national security adviser H.R. McMaster, Trump’s homeland security adviser, Tom Bossert, resigned his post a day after McMaster’s replacement, John Bolton, took over. “The president is grateful to Tom’s commitment to the safety and security of our great country,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement.

Resigned | April 8, 2018

Michael Anton

National Security Council spokesman

Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post

The day before John Bolton stepped in as Trump’s new national security adviser, Michael Anton said he would leave the administration to become a lecturer at the D.C. campus of Hillsdale College. Anton might be best remembered for writing unusual, pro-Trump essays under a pseudonym during the 2016 election. In one, he said that “a Hillary Clinton presidency is Russian Roulette with a semi-auto. With Trump, at least you can spin the cylinder and take your chances.”

Forced out | March 28, 2018

David Shulkin

Veterans Affairs secretary

Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post

After weeks of turmoil within his department, Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin was ousted by Trump, who also announced that he would nominate Rear Adm. Ronny L. Jackson, his personal physician, as Shulkin’s replacement. Once considered a favorite of the president, Shulkin was an Obama administration holdover who fell out of favor with the White House after a travel scandal and reports of growing discord inside VA. Shulkin also clashed with some Trump appointees who wanted to offer veterans private medical care using taxpayer-funded benefits.

Replaced | March 22, 2018

H.R. McMaster

National security adviser

Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post

Trump announced via Twitter that former U.N. ambassador John Bolton would replace three-star Army general H.R. McMaster as his national security adviser, effective April 9. News about McMaster’s eventual removal first came out March 15, just days after Trump fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. The president never gelled with McMaster and had complained that he delivered lengthy and irrelevant briefings, according to Post reporting.

Resigned | March 22, 2018

John Dowd

Personal attorney to President Trump

Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post

John Dowd’s resignation came three days after Trump hired another personal lawyer, Joseph E. diGenova, and amid infighting on Trump’s legal team. The weekend before, Dowd had told reporters that Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation should be shut down, though he later clarified he wasn’t speaking in his official capacity.

Fired | March 16, 2018

Andrew McCabe

FBI deputy director

Melina Mara/The Washington Post

A little more than 24 hours before Andrew McCabe was set to retire, Attorney General Jeff Sessions fired the deputy FBI director. McCabe was a frequent target of Trump’s criticism after he took over for fired FBI director James B. Comey. An investigation alleged that McCabe, who stepped down in January, intentionally misled investigators about disclosures to the media in a Hillary Clinton-related case, though McCabe disputes that. Trump also suggested the FBI’s No. 2 was biased after reports revealed that McCabe’s wife, a Democratic politician in Virginia, received campaign contributions from a Clinton ally.

Fired | March 13, 2018

John McEntee

Personal assistant to the president

Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post

Having lost his security clearance, John McEntee could no longer perform his duties. The former University of Connecticut quarterback was reportedly the subject of a Secret Service investigation into his personal finances. He landed softly, however. Trump’s reelection campaign immediately hired McEntee as a senior adviser.

Fired | March 13, 2018

Rex Tillerson

Secretary of state

Melina Mara/The Washington Post

On a diplomatic trip through Africa, Rex Tillerson received a phone call in the wee hours of March 10 from White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly. The message: Return to Washington; you’re going to be fired. The State Department cleared the rest of Tillerson’s Saturday schedule, claiming the secretary was ill. Three days later, Trump announced his plan to replace Tillerson with CIA Director Mike Pompeo.

Resigned | March 6, 2018

Gary Cohn

Director of the National Economic Council

Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post

A Democrat and a former president of Goldman Sachs, Gary Cohn was always an outsider in the administration of a populist Republican. Cohn tried to steer Trump toward free-trade policies but lost a major debate when Trump decided to impose tariffs on imported steel and aluminum.

Resigned | Feb. 28, 2018

Hope Hicks

White House communications director

Leah Millis/Reuters

An original member of Trump’s political team, Hope Hicks rose to become the White House’s top press aide, following brief tenures by three men. But she, too, succumbed to the grind of the job after 196 days. Particularly draining, according to Hicks’s colleagues, was an episode involving her boyfriend, White House staff secretary Rob Porter, who resigned when two ex-wives publicly accused him of domestic abuse.

Resigned | Feb. 7, 2018

Rob Porter

White House staff secretary

Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post

Rob Porter, who served as top enforcer in the chief of staff’s quest to bring order to the West Wing, resigned after two ex-wives accused him of abuse. One woman presented photos of her blackened eye. Porter’s ex-wives said they told the FBI about the alleged abuse in January 2017 during interviews for Porter’s security clearance. Porter denied their claims, and the White House rallied to support him.

Resigned (or fired, depends
on who you ask)
| Dec. 12, 2017

Omarosa Manigault

White House Office of Public Liaison communications director

Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post

A former participant in Trump’s show “The Apprentice,” Omarosa Manigault was tasked with, but didn’t succeed in, improving Trump’s relationship with African Americans. In a statement, the White House said Manigault “resigned … to pursue other opportunities.” But a White House official told The Post that chief of staff John F. Kelly pushed her out. Manigault, who “did not go quietly,” was escorted from the White House.

Resigned | Dec. 8, 2017

Dina Powell

Deputy national security adviser

Andrew Harnik/AP

A Middle East expert, Dina Powell planned foreign trips for Trump during his first year in office and helped prepare him for meetings with world leaders. Colleagues said she always expected to serve for only a year.

Resigned | Sept. 29, 2017

Tom Price

Health and Human Services secretary

Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post

Trump publicly chastised Tom Price after it was reported that he traveled on costly private and military planes for government work on the taxpayer’s dime. Price pledged that he would reimburse nearly $52,000 — just a fraction of the cost of the full flights. Though it initially appeared the secretary would fight to keep his job, Price eventually resigned in a four-page letter to the president.

Resigned | Sept. 5, 2017

Keith Schiller

Head of Oval Office operations

Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post

The former New York Police Department detective took over security at Trump Tower in Manhattan in 2004 and became one of the future president’s closest confidants. Keith Schiller served as Trump’s personal bodyguard throughout the 2016 campaign, even as the billionaire was protected by a Secret Service detail, and joined his boss in the White House. But Schiller reportedly never planned to stay long and did not like Washington.

Resigned | Aug. 25, 2017

Sebastian Gorka

Deputy assistant to the president

Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post

The former national security editor of Breitbart News left the White House shortly after the exit of fellow Breitbart alumnus Stephen K. Bannon. In a resignation letter to Trump, Sebastian Gorka wrote, “Regrettably, outside of yourself, the individuals who most embodied and represented the policies that will ‘Make America Great Again,’ have been internally countered, systematically removed, or undermined in recent months.”

Fired | August 18, 2017

Stephen K. Bannon

White House chief strategist

Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post

After racial unrest in Charlottesville, Trump and his new chief of staff dismissed Stephen K. Bannon, perhaps the most embattled member of the president’s inner circle. Bannon promptly returned to Breitbart, the conservative news site he ran before joining the White House, and vowed to continue elevating the platform that got Trump elected in 2016: a fear of globalization, an “America First” mind-set and populist-nationalist rhetoric that has energized white supremacists.

Fired | July 31, 2017

Anthony Scaramucci

White House communications director

Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post

It didn’t take long for John Kelly to make his first personnel move. Just days after taking the helm as White House chief of staff, Kelly fired Anthony Scaramucci on his 10th day as communications director. Scaramucci’s tenure was brief but full, marked by his tinted sunglasses and a public feud with Reince Priebus. “The Mooch’s” firing came the same day Trump insisted, via Twitter, that there was “no WH chaos” in his administration.

Resigned | July 28, 2017

Reince Priebus

White House chief of staff

Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post

One week after White House spokesman Sean Spicer resigned and 24 hours after communications director Anthony Scaramucci’s expletive-laden interview was published in the New Yorker, Reince Priebus resigned as chief of staff. Trump replaced him with Department of Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly. Trump had come to perceive Priebus as unable to push through his legislative agenda.

Fired | July 27, 2017

Derek Harvey

National security council adviser

Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Derek Harvey was the National Security Council’s top official for the Middle East. But he and H.R. McMaster, his new boss, “had different visions for what the mission required,” an official told The Post in July. Harvey, a retired Army colonel and influential voice on Iran, Syria and counterterrorism policy, said in a statement that the “tough” decision to leave was his own but came with “mixed emotions.”

Resigned | July 21, 2017

Sean Spicer

Press secretary

Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post

Often a punching bag, Sean Spicer resigned in protest after Trump replaced his former communications director with wealthy financier Anthony Scaramucci. Spicer told The Post he was giving the office “an opportunity to have a clean slate,” but his departure was characterized as abrupt and angry. Scaramucci had a contentious relationship not just with Spicer but also White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, and Scaramucci’s installment kick-started a week of chaos. Spicer's exit was the beginning of a mass exodus.

Resigned | July 20, 2017

Mark Corallo

Spokesman for Trump’s legal team

Zach Gibson/Bloomberg News

After two months on the job, Mark Corallo resigned as the public face of the president’s growing legal team, tasked with defending Trump as Congress and special counsel Robert S. Mueller III investigated the administration’s relationship with Russia.

Resigned | July 6, 2017

Walter Shaub

Office of Government Ethics director

Linda Davidson/The Washington Post

With his consistent ridicule of the Trump administration’s loose relationship with ethics, Walter Shaub earned himself a cult following among the president’s critics. He challenged Trump to fully divest from his business holdings and chastised other White House officials. Six months before his tenure expired, Shaub resigned, citing his sense that he had accomplished all he could. Some considered the move a “protest resignation.”

Resigned | May 30, 2017

Mike Dubke

Communications director

Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post

A Republican strategist who came to the White House having not worked on the campaign on the transition team, Mike Dubke worked closely with then-press secretary Sean Spicer. But the two often caught heat from Trump and his closest allies, who believed the communications office failed him — particularly after the firing of James B. Comey. Dubke resigned from his post after three months.

Fired | May 9, 2017

James B. Comey

FBI director

Matt McClain/The Washington Post

The FBI director was at a recruiting event in Los Angeles when he saw a TV news report that he had been fired. At first, James B. Comey laughed. He thought it was a joke. The White House’s justification for his dismissal was ever-evolving. Initially, it said Comey treated Hillary Clinton unfairly while investigating her emails during the 2016 presidential election. Then, in an NBC News interview, Trump contradicted himself. He said, “In fact, when I decided to just do it, I said to myself, I said, ‘You know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story, it’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should have won.’ ”

Fired | May 5, 2017

Angella Reid

White House chief usher

Carolyn Kaster/AP

The White House chief usher is in charge of the first family’s residential life and the staff who orchestrates that comfort. Angella Reid, appointed by Obama, was the first woman and second African American to hold the job. But she left abruptly in late April, replaced by a Trump hotel staffer. Historians and experts classified Reid’s departure as highly unusual, particularly because the White House did not provide an explanation.

Resigned | April 9, 2017

K.T. McFarland

Deputy national security adviser

Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post

When her boss, Michael Flynn, resigned in February 2017, K.T. McFarland was initially told she could keep her National Security Council post even after H.R. McMaster took over. But as part of a broader reorganization, she was instead offered the job as U.S. ambassador to Singapore. McFarland, who has been under intense scrutiny in the Russia probe, later withdrew her name from consideration.

Resigned | March 30, 2017

Katie Walsh

Deputy chief of staff

Cliff Owen/AP

One of the few women with a senior role in the White House, Katie Walsh came to Team Trump from the Republican National Committee and served as top aide and closest ally to then-Chief of Staff Reince Priebus. She was gone after two months, sent to bolster the president’s agenda through an outside pro-Trump group. The White House insisted that her departure was not part of a shake-up and praised Walsh as a formidable problem-solver. But The Post reported that some officials saw her as a “leaky vessel.”

Fired | Feb. 17, 2017

Craig Deare

Pick to be the National Security Council’s senior director for Western Hemisphere affairs

National Defense University

Nothing is really private in Washington — just ask Craig Deare. At an off-the-record event with academics at the Woodrow Wilson Center in February, the National Security Council’s senior director for Western Hemisphere affairs reportedly trashed Trump and two of his closest advisers for cutting him out of policy discussions about Latin America, in particular the administration’s plan to build a wall along the Mexican border. The next day, Deare was fired.

Resigned | Feb. 13, 2017

Michael Flynn

National security adviser

Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post

On the same day that President Barack Obama announced sanctions against Russia for interfering in the 2016 campaign, Michael Flynn, who had not yet been sworn in, spoke to Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak on the phone five times. Flynn denied the calls were about sanctions — to his bosses, to the FBI and to The Washington Post. Then, on Feb. 13, The Post reported that transcripts of the calls revealed Flynn was lying. That night, the retired general resigned. He later pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI as part of a Russia probe.

Resigned | Feb. 9, 2017

Gerrit Lansing

White House’s chief digital adviser

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

As the Republican National Committee’s top digital strategist in 2016, Gerrit Lansing made nearly $1 million from an online campaign contribution platform he co-founded and reportedly urged GOP candidates to use. Maintaining ties to the company while working in the White House was an ethics violation, but Lansing refused to step away from the business. So, instead, he resigned.

Resigned | Feb. 2, 2017

Travis Kalanick

Advisory board member

Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg News

Just days later, uproar over Trump’s entry ban led to a second exodus. Travis Kalanick, then-chief executive of Uber, resigned from the White House economic council after pressure from staffers. Kalanick was also facing pressure from the 200,000 Uber users who quit the service (remember #DeleteUber?) after the company continued to pick up airport patrons while taxi drivers were on strike. Kalanick’s resignation helped assuage that backlash.

Fired | Jan. 30, 2017

Sally Yates

Acting attorney general

Bill O’Leary/The Washington Post

It was a Friday afternoon when Sally Yates learned from news reports of the president’s executive order restricting entry into the United States from seven Muslim-majority countries. Yates, temporarily in charge of the Justice Department during the transition, decided to take a stand. She told Justice Department lawyers not to defend the ban. Hours later, via a one-line letter from the White House, according to Post reporting, Yates became Trump’s first fire.