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A Potential Sea Change At White House Personnel

Meet the new, paleocon head of Trump administration personnel.

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 29: White House Personal Aide to the President John McEntee (L) and White House Director of Social Media Dan Scavino leave the White House with U.S. President Donald Trump November 29, 2017 in Washington, DC. Kelly and Porter are accompanying Trump to St. Charles, Missouri, where he will address a rally and "give remarks on tax reform," according to the White House. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

In surprise moves Thursday, the Trump administration announced it’s all-hands for old loyalists.

Hope Hicks, among the president’s closest advisers since her days on his 2016 campaign, will return to the White House as senior counselor to the president, and aide to Jared Kushner, the most powerful administration official. She departs Fox News.

Less headline-grabbing but potentially more pathbreaking is the return of John McEntee, Trump’s ex-body man turned White House director of personnel. It’s an astonishing ascension.

McEntee was ousted by former White House chief of staff John Kelly over issues with his security clearance, brought on by a financial matter. Kelly is back in the news this week, telling a New Jersey audience that Trump was wrong to purge Alexander Vindman, an impeachment witness. Trump said Thursday that Kelly “can’t keep his mouth shut.”

McEntee is a bird of a different feather. The 29-year-old kept a low profile during the interregnum between his White House tenures, impressing administration loyalists. I’m told he’s a fan of the articles of TAC founder Pat Buchanan and has passed the sentiments on to Trump himself.

How McEntee will step up to the plate remains unclear. Nine months from a presidential election, McEntee assumes a mammoth portfolio that has been a source of deep frustration for early supporters of Trump and the president alike. For every report that the president feels he’s surrounded by “snakes,” there’s the accumulation of three years’ frustration over continued American overextension abroad and the lack of a border wall.

What is clear: McEntee’s tenure is poised to be a stark departure from a predecessor, John DeStefano, notorious in administration circles as a made man with former White House chief of staff Reince Priebus and a champion of the establishment.

about the author

Curt Mills is a contributing editor at The American Conservative, where he previously served as senior reporter. He specializes in foreign policy and campaign coverage and has worked at The National Interest, U.S. News and World Report, Washington Examiner, and the Spectator, and his work has appeared in UnHerd and Newsweek. He was a 2018-2019 Robert Novak Journalism fellow.

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