The New York Times reported Thursday on a handful of administration officials who could face imminent departures from the White House.
The report came hours after President Donald Trump said Thursday morning that “there will always be change, but very little” in his administration. He was responding to a question about the numerous recent firings and resignations among senior White House staffers.
Citing knowledgeable unnamed sources — and sometimes not citing any — the Times listed five officials who could face career trouble.
White House chief of staff John Kelly and National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster “are on thin ice,” the Times’ Michael Shear and Maggie Haberman reported, “having angered the president by privately saying ‘no’ to the boss too often.”
Separately, the Times cited several unnamed people familiar with phone calls Trump made following reporting on domestic violence allegations against then-White House staff secretary Rob Porter. For months, long after the FBI delivered the results of his background check to the White House, Porter kept his senior-level position despite the allegations.
Trump’s language about Kelly’s botching of “the Porter issue,” in the Times’ words, was “unfit for publication.”
Unnamed “White House insiders,” the Times said, predict Kelly or McMaster, or both, could be fired “soon.”
The same goes for Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson and Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin, the Times said, without citing specific sources.
Both officials, the paper wrote, “have both embarrassed the president by generating scandalous headlines” — an eye-popping dining room set, the order for which has now been cancelled, and a $122,000 European trip, respectively.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a frequent target for presidential attacks, is another official whom “Mr. Trump could act as early as Friday to remove,” the Times said, without citing specific sources.
Some unnamed White House officials, the Times reported, believe that Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt is behind rumors of Sessions’ ouster (and, in turn, rumors of Pruitt’s own move to lead the Justice Department).
Yet other unnamed associates, the Times said, “speculate” that Trump knows firing Sessions would constitute a step too far in the eyes of many, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).
Left unscathed by the President’s potential wrath: Defense Secretary James Mattis.
Despite his defiance on Trump’s wishes to ban transgender people from the military, the Times wrote, Mattis is safe “in part because he is a general who in Mr. Trump’s mind ‘looks the part’ of a military leader.”