CNN’s Kevin Liptak documented the drama in his story, “White House meltdown on full display,” which chronicles the seething anger of Trump and the lack of any remedy for his chaotic underlings to help him turn the page.
Here is a non-exhuastive list, in no particular order, of some of the feuds and frustrations we’ve seen involving White House staffers and Cabinet officials. We’ve mostly left out serious policy disagreements that led to firings and focused instead on the internal squabbles that have seized headlines. We’ve also left out most frustrations between Trump and his Cabinet members, including only those featuring his attorney general and secretary of state, since they have been reciprocated. You could make an argument to include others, but those feel like they extend outside the White House.
Donald Trump vs. Gary Cohn
Cohn, a former Goldman Sachs executive, has kept a mostly low profile at the White House. He was reportedly frustrated after Trump’s defense of white nationalist protesters in Charlottesville, but ultimately decided to stay at the White House. But that pretty much coincided with the end of him being discussed as a possible Chairman of the Federal Reserve. They also disagree on the issue of tariffs Trump supports for steel and aluminum imports. And that was the final straw.
*Cohn resigned from the White House March 7, 2018.
Donald Trump vs. Hope Hicks
After Hicks, who was involved in a romantic relationship with Rob Porter, took a hand in drafting Kelly’s initial gushing defense of him, Trump reportedly grew frustrated with his communications director for putting her own interests ahead of his own. She also drew fire after admitting to House investigators that she told white lies on behalf of the President.
*Hicks resigned February 28, 2018.
Reince Priebus vs. Steve Bannon
The original chief of staff and the original ideas man — a yin and yang of official Republicans and movement conservatives — started off on equal footing, outlasted reports of initial tension and ultimately put on a very public show of unity at CPAC in 2017. Now, both have been gone from the White House for months. Priebus has largely gone underground and Bannon flew too close to the sun, falling out of favor with Trump after the candidate he pushed cost Republicans a Senate seat in deep-red Alabama.
*Neither man works at the White House anymore.
Steve Bannon vs. Gary Cohn
Bannon, now gone, called for Cohn, still there, to step down in September 2017 after Cohn, who is Jewish, criticized Trump’s “both sides” response to the violence in Charlottesville. Protesters there had ranted against Jews.
“If you don’t like what (Trump’s) doing, and you don’t agree with it, you have an obligation to resign,” Bannon told CBS News.
*Bannon has since been fired. Cohn resigned March 7, 2018.
John Kelly vs. Anthony Scaramucci
Kelly kicked off his time as chief of staff by booting Scaramucci, 10 days after his hiring as communications director, who had about 48 hours earlier gone on an obscene, on-the-record rant against a host of White House officials. Scaramucci returned the favor — or tried — at the height of the Rob Porter scandal, publicly calling on Kelly to resign over his handling of the abuse allegations against the erstwhile staff secretary.
*Scaramucci was fired.
Reince Priebus vs. Anthony Scaramucci
After accusing Priebus of being a serial leaker, and suggesting the FBI get involved, Scaramucci during a memorably odd interview with CNN compared their relationship to the fratricidal biblical siblings, Cain and Abel.
“We have had odds we have had differences,” Scaramucci told CNN’s Chris Cuomo. “When I said we were brothers from the podium, that’s because we’re rough on each other. Some brothers are like Cain and Abel, other brothers can fight with each other and get along. I don’t know if this is repairable or not, that will be up to the President.”
Priebus would be out days later, and Scaramucci days after him. Earlier in February, Scaramucci told Vanity Fair that Priebus was mostly friendly to his face, but like a Star Wars “Sith Lord behind your back.”
*Neither man works at the White House anymore.
Sean Spicer vs. Anthony Scaramucci
Spicer, an ally of Priebus, was so dismayed by Scaramucci’s being named communications director that he stepped down as press secretary.
*Neither man works at the White House anymore.
John Kelly vs. Jared Kushner
Currently the hottest ongoing feud at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. pits the chief of staff against Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser. The source of the tension now is the FBI’s refusal to sign off on a full security clearance for Kushner, who’s been working with interim credentials. Kelly last week took Kushner down a peg, cutting off his open access to any top secret material.
*Both are still employed at the White House.
John Kelly vs. Omarosa
It’s believed that Kelly led the charge against Omarosa Manigault-Newman, who goes way back with Trump (to when she was a contestant on “The Apprentice), and was initially hired as a top communications official at the White House Office of Public Liaison. Kelly’s rise appeared to coincide with her fall. That no one ever seemed entirely sure what she actually did certainly didn’t help the situation.
*Manigault-Newman no longer works at the White House.
Mike Flynn vs. Mike Pence
Before his ouster less than a month after the inauguration, former national security adviser Michael Flynn is said to have misled Vice President Mike Pence about his past chatter with now-former Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. Flynn has since apologized to Pence, but questions over what the vice president knew and when remain.
*Flynn was fired and has since pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI and is cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller. Mike Pence is still the vice president.
Donald Trump vs. Steve Bannon
The relationship between the President and former campaign chief stayed friendly even after Bannon was let go last year. But things went sour in 2018 after the publication of “Fire and Fury,” Michael Wolff’s White House tell-all. In the book, Bannon is quoted describing the 2016 sit-down between Trump campaign officials (including Kushner, Donald Trump Jr. and Paul Manafort) and a Russian lawyer as potentially “treasonous.” Reporter Joshua Green later revealed that, after leaving the White House, Bannon was quite angry and said he’d grown “sick of being a wet nurse to a 71-year-old man.”
In between those two quotes going public, Trump lashed out at his former chief strategist, downplaying his role on the campaign and saying in a statement, “When (Bannon) was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind.”
*Bannon was fired.
Donald Trump vs. Jeff Sessions
Sessions was the first sitting senator to back Trump. For his trouble, the attorney general’s been one of the President’s most consistent targets for criticism. The reason? Trump was infuriated when Sessions recused himself from any investigation into the 2016 campaign. Worse, Trump tends to make his statements very publicly, usually via Twitter, where he roasted Sessions again on Wednesday morning.
*Sessions is still the attorney general.
Donald Trump vs. Rex Tillerson
In October 2017, it was first reported that Tillerson had called Trump a “moron” during a meeting with officials at the Pentagon. Not long after, Trump responded, in an interview with Forbes, by challenging his secretary of state to a contest of sorts.
“I think it’s fake news, but if he did (say) that, I guess we’ll have to compare IQ tests,” Trump said. “And I can tell you who is going to win.”
*Tillerson is still secretary of state.
John Kelly vs. Donald Trump
Kelly has several times either threatened to resign, offered to resign, or considered resigning. He’s been in office since July of 2017. Most recently, Kelly came under the gun for his handling of the Porter mess. He also reportedly drew Trump’s ire after it was revealed he told a group of Democratic lawmakers that some of the President’s past comments on immigration were “not fully informed.”
*Kelly is still the White House chief of staff.
Donald Trump vs. Jared Kushner
Back in March, Trump fumed that Kushner, one of his top aides, went off to ski in Aspen with Ivanka Trump and their kids as the fight over the Congressional GOP’s Obamacare repeal plan went south. As a source close to Trump told CNN’s Kate Bennett at the time, the President “is upset that his son-in-law and senior adviser was not around during this crucial week.”
*Kushner is still employed and still the President’s son-in-law.
Donald Trump vs. Sean Spicer
Trump niggled and embarrassed his first press secretary repeatedly. First over his performance on the day after the inauguration, when Spicer was trotted out to insist that the crowd watching was the largest ever. (Trump didn’t like his tone or his suit.) Later on, during a trip the Vatican, Spicer, a Catholic, was left out of the group that got to meet Pope Francis.
*Spicer was fired.
Donald Trump vs. H.R. McMaster
Less public than some of the others has been simmering tension between Trump and H.R. McMaster, the general who serves as National Security Advisor and took the job after Flynn was fired. Trump upbraided McMaster on Twitter recently and the White House is thought to be looking for a replacement.
*McMaster is still National Security Advisor.
Note: This post has been updated repeatedly.
- ^ White House meltdown on full display (www.cnn.com)
- ^ pretty much coincided with the end of him being discussed as a possible Chairman of the Federal Reserve (www.cnn.com)
- ^ grew frustrated with his communications director (www.cnn.com)
- ^ both sides” response to the violence in Charlottesville (www.cnn.com)
- ^ booting Scaramucci (www.cnn.com)
- ^ on-the-record rant (www.newyorker.com)
- ^ suggesting the FBI get involved (www.cnn.com)
- ^ told CNN’s Chris Cuomo (www.cnn.com)
- ^ Vanity Fair (www.vanityfair.com)
- ^ he stepped down as press secretary (www.cnn.com)
- ^ the hottest ongoing feud (www.cnn.com)
- ^ cutting off his open access (www.cnn.com)
- ^ Kelly’s rise appeared to coincide with her fall (www.cnn.com)
- ^ said to have misled Vice President Mike Pence (www.cnn.com)
- ^ questions over what the vice president knew (www.cnn.com)
- ^ treasonous (www.cnn.com)
- ^ sick of being a wet nurse to a 71-year-old man (www.cnn.com)
- ^ was the first sitting senator to back Trump (www.cnn.com)
- ^ roasted Sessions again (twitter.com)
- ^ had called Trump a “moron” (www.cnn.com)
- ^ Trump said (www.cnn.com)
- ^ not fully informed (www.cnn.com)
- ^ went off to ski in Aspen with Ivanka Trump (www.cnn.com)
- ^ tone or his suit (www.cnn.com)
- ^ left out of the group (www.cnn.com)
- ^ thought to be looking for a replacement (www.cnn.com)
George H. W. Bush dead at 94
Born into privilege and a tradition of service, Bush was a son of a senator, celebrated World War II combat pilot, student athlete, Texas oilman, Republican congressman, national party chairman, pioneering diplomat and spy chief. After his own 1980 presidential campaign came up short, he served two terms as Ronald Reagan’s vice president before reaching the pinnacle of political power by winning the 1988 presidential election, soundly defeating Democrat Michael Dukakis.
After losing the White House in 1992, Bush became a widely admired political elder who leapt out of airplanes to mark birthday milestones. Emphasizing the generosity of his soul, he forged a close — and unlikely — friendship with Democrat Bill Clinton, the man who ended his presidency. When Parkinson’s disease mostly silenced him in public, Bush flashed his sense of humor by sporting colorful striped socks.
Bush’s death comes after his wife of 73 years, Barbara Bush, passed away on April 17 aged 92. Before her funeral, Bush was pictured in a wheelchair gazing at his wife’s flower-covered casket, in a moment that encapsulated their life-long love affair
The first sitting vice president to be elected to the presidency since 1836, Bush was also only the second person in US history to see his own son follow in his presidential footsteps when George W. Bush was elected in 2000.
In addition to the 43rd president, Bush is survived by his son Jeb, the former Florida governor and 2016 presidential candidate; sons Neil and Marvin; daughter Dorothy; and 17 grandchildren. His daughter Robin died of leukemia as a child, a tragedy that still moved Bush deeply late in his life. He will be buried alongside her and the former first lady at his presidential library in College Station, Texas.
When Bush left office in 1993, he joined the dubious club of presidents rejected by voters after only one term in office. A career filled with top jobs preparing him for the presidency was cut short in its prime.
He lost to Clinton after failing to shake off his image as a starchy Yankee oblivious to the struggles of heartland Americans during an economic downturn.
But as time passed, his foreign policy acumen has come to define his presidency, leaving a legacy of wise and sure-handed management of world affairs.
The first Persian Gulf War
Bush, alongside national security adviser Brent Scowcroft and Secretary of State James Baker, engineered a soft landing for the Cold War as the Soviet empire shattered and Germany unified and then prospered — despite widespread distrust at the time of its history and motives.
In another dangerous foreign policy test, Bush decided in 1990 to build a diverse international coalition, including more than 400,000 US troops, to eject Iraqi forces from Kuwait.
“This will not stand. This will not stand, this aggression against Kuwait,” Bush vowed before getting to work on a successful mission that united US allies in Europe and the Middle East in a lightning war.
Later, with Iraqi forces routed, Bush decided not to push on to Baghdad to oust Saddam Hussein. That instinct later came to look prescient, given the blood and resources expended by the United States in his son’s own war against Iraq.
The 1990s Gulf War was the first time the world learned of the huge leaps in precision weaponry used by US forces and ushered in a brief era of unchallenged American hegemony after the dented confidence of the post-Vietnam war era.
Earlier, Bush had also ordered US troops to invade Panama after an off-duty Marine was killed by forces loyal to dictator Manuel Noriega. The force quickly overwhelmed Noriega’s men and he was overthrown in just four days and was later sentenced to 40 years in US federal prison on drug charges.
Bush also had to walk a fine line with China, imposing sanctions after a 1989 government crackdown on Tiananmen Square in Beijing, but also seeking to prevent a permanent rupture in relations. Also on his watch, Washington backed early diplomacy between Israel and the Palestinians, which led to the Oslo accords in the Clinton presidency.
Perception of being out of touch at home
But Bush’s success abroad became a cross to bear at home. Voters appeared to get the impression he was more interested in striding the world stage than their economic struggles.
His failure to connect was encapsulated by an incident in which his fascination with a supermarket scanner during his 1992 re-election campaign triggered widespread mockery.
Former aides to this day insist that Bush was maligned by a New York Times report on the incident, which they say resulted from a misinterpretation of a pool report.
But in another incident, Bush exacerbated the idea he was out of touch by looking at his watch in a town-hall style presidential debate, then waffled when a woman asked how he was personally affected by the bad economy.
Bush was often criticized for lacking an overarching political philosophy, a charge he testily decried by complaining about “the vision thing.”
‘Read my lips’
He managed to undermine himself with powerful GOP conservatives by breaking his famous 1988 GOP convention pledge: “Read my lips: no new taxes.”
On Election Day, with the right-of-center vote fragmented by third-party candidate and billionaire businessman Ross Perot, Bush carried only 18 states and just over 37% of the vote.
In many ways, Bush paid a price for ragged presentation skills. Even before his 1988 presidential campaign, there were questions about his political fortitude. Newsweek magazine, which in pre-social media days had immense power to set the political media narrative, published a cover story questioning whether the President was beset by the “wimp factor.”
In her 1988 Democratic convention keynote speech, then-Texas Treasurer Ann Richards had lampooned Bush’s upbringing and tongue-tied political style by joking Bush was “born with a silver foot in his mouth.”
Other incidents in Bush’s presidency entered popular culture. Once, he caused a brief panic when he collapsed at a state dinner in Japan. He blamed the embarrassment on a stomach illness. In 1990, he banned broccoli on Air Force One, saying he had hated it since he was a kid.
As elder statesman, he kept publicly quiet
Bush faded from view during the Clinton years, but was thrust back into the spotlight — and became the subject of a torrent of amateur psychology — when his son ran for president in 2000.
Once his son entered office, those expecting a restoration of the elder Bush’s ways were disappointed. The new president responded to the September 11, 2001, attacks by rejecting the internationalism of his father and embracing the neo-conservative doctrine of preemptive war.
There was much speculation about what Bush thought of his son’s actions in Iraq, especially after some of his foreign policy lieutenants went public with criticisms of US policy.
But the elder Bush kept quiet in public, though he was outraged when Democrats branded George W. Bush a “liar” during his 2004 re-election bid.
The attacks on his other son, Jeb, who endured a bruising primary battle in 2016 against Donald Trump, the eventual GOP nominee and 45th president, caused him deep personal pain.
Sources said the elder Bush voted for Hillary Clinton, Trump’s Democratic rival.
Both former Bush presidents did call to congratulate Trump soon after the New York businessman’s win over Clinton. In one of his final political acts, Bush wrote to Trump to apologize for not being able to not attend his inauguration owing to his poor health.
But in many ways, the acerbic and bitterly divisive election of 2016 represented a final wrenching departure from the more courtly, old-fashioned politics practiced by George H.W. Bush, who until late in his life would pen handwritten notes to friends, former political allies and foes and even reporters who covered his presidency. He counted Democrats among his closest friends, and his death marks not only the passing of a president but a reminder of a bygone era of greater civility in Washington.
WWII hero became Texas oil prospector
Born in Massachusetts on June 12, 1924, George H. W. Bush was the son of wealthy Wall Street banker and future Connecticut Sen. Prescott Bush and Dorothy Bush.
He became the youngest naval pilot at age 18 following Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor and flew combat missions from the aircraft carrier USS San Jacinto. As a “flyboy” in the Pacific War, Bush flew 58 combat missions and won the Distinguished Flying Cross.
One mission in September 1944 was almost his last. Bush’s air wing attacked a radio installation on the tiny Japanese-held island of Chichi Jima. During the raid, his plane was hit and as flames licked around the cockpit, Bush gave the order to abandon the aircraft. The bodies of his crewmen, Ted White and John Delaney were never found. Bush, after desperately paddling his life raft away from the island and Japanese boats sent out to capture him, was miraculously rescued by a U.S. submarine.
It took decades before Bush was able to speak publicly about his experiences in the war.
“It was just part of my duty. People say, ‘war hero.’ How come a guy who gets his airplane shot down is a hero and a guy who’s good enough that he doesn’t get shot down is not?” Bush told CNN in 2003.
Late in his life, the former president’s heroism was recognized when the Navy named a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier after him.
After returning from the Pacific, Bush attended Yale University, where he was a noted athlete and then went west with his new wife, Barbara Pierce, to set himself up as an early Texas oil prospector.
By the mid-1960s, politics was calling and Bush ran for the US Senate, but lost. In 1966, however, he was on his way, winning a seat in the House of Representatives.
Chosen by President Richard Nixon to serve as envoy to the United Nations, Bush later served as the head of the Republican National Committee during the Watergate scandal.
Then, he became one of the few prominent Westerners to get into China, which had been closed to outsiders for decades. Bush headed the US Liaison Office in Beijing, the forerunner of the US Embassy. He later detailed his experiences, including trips into the Chinese countryside on bicycles, in diaries published in 2008.
In 1976, Bush became the head of the CIA. He only held the job for a year, but was so well remembered that the agency later named its headquarters in Langley, Virginia, after him, and he would later say it was his favorite job.
In 1980, Bush ran for the White House, challenging former California Gov. Ronald Reagan for the GOP nomination, slamming what he said was his foe’s “voodoo economic policy.”
After a sometimes rancorous campaign, Reagan won, and after briefly flirting with picking former president Gerald Ford as his running mate, handed Bush the vice presidential spot.
‘Nothing self-conscious in my love of country’
With Reagan set to leave office in 1989, with his popularity ratings on a high, Bush was in the ideal spot to claim the nomination and the presidency.
“I may not be the most eloquent, but I learned early that eloquence won’t draw oil from the ground,” Bush said in his 1988 convention speech.
“I may sometimes be a little awkward, but there’s nothing self-conscious in my love of country. I am a quiet man — but I hear the quiet people others don’t,” Bush said, vowing to fight for a “better America, for an endless enduring dream and a thousand points of light.”
It’s an irony that it was not until he was well-settled in retirement that many Americans began to get glimpses into the character traits that might have helped him win a second term.
Refusing to bow to advancing age, he marked his 75th, 80th, 85th and 90th birthdays by going skydiving, with the money going to charity. His primary causes included literacy, cancer research and volunteerism, and he and Barbara Bush would raise more than $1 billion for charity in their years after the White House.
He and Clinton became close friends after working together after the Asian tsunami disaster in 2004 and after Hurricane Katrina the following year.
“It was an amazing experience. This man who I had always liked and respected and ran against … I literally came to love,” Clinton said in 2011.
President Barack Obama awarded Bush the Presidential Medal of Freedom that same year.
Never completely got out of politics
Several bouts with illness and advanced age kept Bush out of the spotlight in recent years and he has rarely made public remarks.
But, in November 2014, he was in the audience in a wheelchair when George W. Bush published a biography entitled “41: A Portrait of My Father.”
The younger Bush poignantly said he “wanted Dad to be alive” when the book came out.
In 2017, several women accused Bush of inappropriately touching them during photo ops, prompting his spokesman to release a statement saying that “on occasion, (Bush) has patted women’s rears in what he intended to be a good-natured manner” and apologizing to “anyone he has offended.”
The elder Bush revealed several years ago he suffered from a form of Parkinson’s disease which left him unable to walk. He used a wheelchair or a scooter to get around.
Bush suffered multiple health scares later in his life. In December 2014 he was hospitalized for what aides described as a precautionary measure after experiencing shortness of breath, and the following July fell at his home in Kennebunkport, Maine, breaking the C2 vertebrae in his neck. The injury did not result in any neurological problems, his spokesman said at the time.
This story has been updated.
Cohen believed Trump would pardon him, but then things changed
After a March 2018 visit to Mar-a-Lago, the President’s private club in Florida, Cohen returned to New York believing that his former boss would protect him if he faced any charges for sticking to his story about the 2016 payments to adult film actress Stormy Daniels, according to one source with knowledge. Trump was also at Mar-a-Lago at the time of Cohen’s visit.
Another source said that after the April 2018 FBI raid on Cohen’s office and home, people close to the President assured Cohen that Trump would take care of him. And Cohen believed that meant that the President would offer him a pardon if he stayed on message. It is unclear who specifically reached out to Cohen.
“The President of the United States never indicated anything to Michael, or anyone else, about getting a pardon,” said Rudy Giuliani, the President’s attorney. “Pardons are off the table, but it’s not a limitation on his power in the future to pardon in any case.”
Cohen’s lawyers could not be reached for comment.
Following the raid on Cohen’s home and office, Cohen’s attorneys had a legal defense agreement with Trump and his attorneys. During this time, there was a steady flow of communication between the two sides, according to two sources familiar with the matter.
At first, publicly, Trump seemed very supportive of his former attorney. On the day of the raid, Trump said Cohen was “a good man” and that the investigation reached “a whole new level of unfairness.” He unloaded on law enforcement, calling the raids “a disgraceful situation.”
But in the days that followed the raid, one source says, things started heading south with the President.
Trump started to distance himself from Cohen. And when Trump appeared on “Fox and Friends” two weeks after the raids and said that Cohen only did a “tiny, tiny little fraction” of his legal work, Cohen knew the game had changed. According to one source, Cohen knew that things had changed and he acted to protect his family — and himself.
It couldn’t be learned whether Cohen shared this information with Mueller, though Cohen has spent more than 70 hours providing testimony over the last several months.
These developments represent an extraordinary reversal of fortunes for Trump and Cohen, who once boasted he would “take a bullet” to protect his longtime boss. But since then, Cohen implicated Trump under oath in the illegal hush-money scheme with Daniels. If Cohen did share this information with Mueller’s team, then it could be used as part of the obstruction of justice probe in determining whether the President was trying to illegally influence a witness in the investigation.
US judge rules against Trump administration in suit over policing grants to ‘sanctuary cities’
The lawsuit challenged the Justice Department’s efforts to punish sanctuary cities by withholding a key law enforcement grant the department said was available only to cities that complied with specific immigration enforcement measures.
In July 2017, then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that applicants for Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grants would have to comply with federal immigration enforcement in ways that were unlike years past, like allowing federal law enforcement agents to have access to detainees in jails for questioning about their immigration status.
According to the ruling, the seven states involved in the lawsuit, as well as New York City, had been receiving the grant money since Congress created the fund for the “modern version of the program in 2006,” and the funds “collectively totaled over $25 million.”
“In 2017, for the first time in the history of the program, the U.S. Department of Justice (‘DOJ’) and Attorney General (collectively, ‘Defendants’) imposed three immigration-related conditions that grantees must comply with in order to receive funding,” wrote Judge Edgardo Ramos, of the US District Court for the Southern District of New York, in his ruling.
New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood led the suit and was joined by New Jersey, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Washington state and Virginia.
Underwood said in a statement on Friday that the ruling was “a major win for New Yorkers’ public safety.” CNN has reached out to the Justice Department for comment.