Josh Raffel, a senior communications official in the White House who has been a go-to crisis manager and who has worked closely with Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, is leaving the administration, officials confirmed Tuesday.
Raffel's departure, which will take place within the next two months, comes as Kushner, President Trump's senior adviser, is under increasing scrutiny for his inability to secure a complete FBI background check for his security clearance, and with special counsel Robert S. Mueller III's Russia investigation intensifying.
Raffel, who joined the White House in April to help run communications for Kushner's Office of American Innovation, had become a point person internally for some of the most sensitive matters, as well as the Middle East peace process. He functions as a spokesman for assistant to the president Ivanka Trump and Kushner, the president's daughter and son-in-law, but his portfolio is far more expansive, including foreign and domestic policies and day-to-day crisis management. Last fall, he was promoted to deputy communications director and worked closely with communications director Hope Hicks, one of the president's most trusted advisers.
Raffel earned a reputation among reporters for his voluble and fervent defense of his administration charges and came to be respected within the West Wing for his strategic instincts.
His departure was first reported by Axios on Tuesday afternoon.
The announcement of Raffel's exit, just shy of his one-year mark in the administration, is likely to prompt speculation about Kushner's status within the White House. Another close ally, former deputy national security adviser Dina Powell, left the administration earlier this year. And in recent weeks, reported tensions between Kushner and White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly have spilled into public view.
Raffel, a Democrat, left his job running public relations for Blumhouse Productions, a Hollywood movie company, to join the administration. He had previously done work for Kushner's family.
Raffel had told Ivanka Trump and Kushner in recent weeks that he was leaving, and he has told close friends that he has no immediate plans to announce. He has said he has family obligations in New York, where he plans to return and ultimately reenter the private sector.
“Josh is honest, passionate and thoughtful,” Ivanka Trump said in a statement. “Whether it was offering strategic guidance on the communications for tax reform or a foreign trip, Josh's guidance was invaluable. The White House won’t be the same without him.”