Jonathan Swan, a reporter with longtime insider access to the Trump White House, reported on Axios Tuesday afternoon that senior communications official Josh Raffel is leaving the administration, according to his sources. Raffel is the twenty-seventh official to be fired, to resign, or to otherwise depart the Trump White House since the inauguration.
Raffel was poached away from the Hillary Clinton campaign by the man he came to play right hand to — Jared Kushner, Donald Trump’s son-in-law, and himself a senior adviser to the White House. Despite having been a Democrat, Raffel quickly earned the trust of the Trump camp as the operative inside the West Wing most capable of handling messy situations. A White House official told Swan that whenever there is a crisis in the administration, “we call Josh.”
One analysis from The Daily Beast said that Raffel played point man for Jared and Ivanka, using his connections within the media to handle the “worst stories” and acting as a sort of guidance counselor for the power couple on any number of communications issues, from messaging on tax reform to handling PR for travel abroad.
Axios quoted Ivanka Trump’s effusive praise for the departing comms specialist:
Josh is honest, passionate and thoughtful. 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.”
But the departure of Jared’s media liaison couldn’t have come at a worse time for the beleaguered jack-of-all-trades: His security clearance, having been in question for more than a week since WH chief of staff John Kelly issued a memo rescinding temporary authorization for anyone whose clearance had been pending for a year, has now been downgraded, according to Politico:
Presidential son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner has had his security clearance downgraded — a move that will prevent him from viewing many of the sensitive documents to which he once had unfettered access.
Kushner is not alone. All White House aides working on the highest-level interim clearances — at the Top Secret/SCI-level — were informed in a memo sent Friday that their clearances would be downgraded to the Secret level, according to three people with knowledge of the situation.”
This downgrade means that Kushner will no longer have access to Trump’s presidential daily briefing — access that the president’s son-in-law fought strenuously to protect.
Without a top-secret security clearance, Kushner becomes largely useless for many if not all of the tasks that Trump has assigned him. That means Kushner’s resignation is almost certainly on the horizon as well.
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