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Senior White House spokesman with close ties to Kushner abruptly resigns


    Jared Kushner took a phone call before a Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East, Feb. 20, at United Nations headquarters.

A senior White House spokesman with close ties to Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump abruptly announced today that he’s stepping down, exacerbating the Trump administration’s already historically high staff turnover rate.

Josh Raffel, who joined the White House early last year, was supposed to run communications for the so-called Office of American Innovation, which was established by the Trump administration to reduce regulations and bureaucracy. But shortly after coming onboard, Raffel was promoted to deputy communications director and was tasked with serving as the main point of contact for Kushner and Ivanka Trump.

Despite climbing the career ladder, Raffel has privately told friends and colleagues over the past two months that he wants to return to the private sector, an administration official said. The official added that Raffel’s last day will be within the next two months.

The White House pumped out statements praising Raffel as news of his resignation spread.

“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.”

Gary Cohn, President Donald Trump’s chief economic adviser, similarly lauded Raffel as “focused and thoughtful.”

But while Raffle’s resignation comes on superficially good terms, his leaving is part of a record White House turnover trend.

A report from the Brookings Institution released last month revealed that the Trump White House has the highest turnover rate by far as compared with the past five administrations.

A whopping 34 percent of Trump’s “A team” — a denomination encompassing 60 staffers from the White House and the Executive Office — resigned during his first year in office. That’s compared to the Reagan administration’s 17 percent, the Clinton administration’s 11 percent, the Obama administration 9 percent, the Bush Sr. administration’s 7 percent and the Bush Jr. administration’s 6 percent.

“(Trump) has valued loyalty over qualifications and suffered from a White House that has functioned in a chaotic manner,” Kathryn Dunn Tenpas, a senior Brookings fellow, wrote in the report. “Both features have made it difficult to retain staff and have contributed to the governance difficulties he has encountered.”

Trump used to boast during the campaign that he would only hire and surround himself with “the best and most serious people” if he became president.


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