Sat, Dec 02, 2017 - Page 6 News List

More US officials’ exits likely: sources


US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s expected exit from the administration of US President Donald Trump is one of many staff changes likely as Trump nears the end of his first year in office, with sources saying that US National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn and son-in-law Jared Kushner could be among those who depart.

Cohn, whose relationship with Trump became tense earlier this year, has considered leaving once the Republican effort to overhaul the US tax system is completed in US Congress, said the sources with ties to the White House, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Kushner, who has seen his influence in the White House shrink, might receive a “face-saving” exit as he deals with legal challenges related to a special counsel’s investigation of the Trump presidential campaign’s potential ties to Russia, one of the sources said.

“This is pure speculation,” White House spokesman Raj Shah said in an e-mailed statement about potential staff moves.

More junior-level advisers could also use the completion of Trump’s first year and tax legislation as a pivot point to move on, leading to another period of uncertainty that has at times overshadowed Trump’s tenure, which began on Jan. 20.

Things change quickly at the Trump White House. Advisers and Cabinet members who fall out of favor with the president can re-enter his good graces, making it hard to predict staff moves.

Shifts in personnel are watched worldwide for indications of how Trump will tackle issues ranging from North Korea to regulatory policy.

Trump is considering a plan to oust Tillerson, whose relationship has been strained by the top US diplomat’s softer line on North Korea and other differences, senior administration officials said.

Cohn’s future in the White House has come into question since his public criticism of Trump’s response to the violence at a white supremacist rally in Virginia in August.

However, their once-tense relationship has since improved and one source close to the White House said Cohn could stay longer to help spearhead legislation to improve US infrastructure.

Two of the sources with ties to the White House said they assumed that White House Chief of Staff John Kelly wanted at least to outlast his predecessor’s six-month tenure.

One source said Kushner, who is married to Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump, could go if a scenario, such as giving him an outside adviser role, was found that appealed to the president.

Kushner last month told the Washington Post that he and his wife, a fellow White House adviser, were “here to stay.”

Although a lot of speculation about departures has focused on high-profile names, the possibility of mid-level staffers leaving could have a big impact on the rhythms of the White House.

“The difference in this administration is that you don’t have replacements already on staff” or people clamoring to get on board, one of the sources with ties to the White House said.

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