While US President Donald Trump is on vacation at his resort in Florida, White House officials are planning to revamp internal operations in the New Year, including bringing in new leadership as aides to the president worry about GOP prospects during the 2018 midterm elections.
Republicans and Trump suffered an embarrassing setback when Republican candidate Roy Moore who was endorsed by Trump in Alabama’s Senate race suffered an upset loss following allegations of sexual misconduct.
The unexpected defeat in the deep-red state narrowed the Republicans’ already shaky majority in the Senate and underscored the challenges the White House faces as Republicans head into the 2018 midterm elections with a president facing approval ratings in the 30s.
The Washington Post reported Thursday that the proposed changes are largely overseen by White House chief of staff John Kelly. The retired four-star general wants to further streamline and professionalize White House operations to ensure the chaos of the administration’s inaugural year does not follow it into 2018.
The Post reported the plan is to have Johnny DeStefano — a White House aide and Washington insider who worked for John Boehner when he was House Speaker — temporarily oversee four West Wing operations: the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, the Office of Political Affairs, the Office of Presidential Personnel and the Office of Public Liaison, a White House official confirmed to the daily on Thursday.
Trump warned over loses to Democrats
The administration is also hoping to hire a top political strategist ahead of the 2018 midterms, as worries about political director Bill Stepien emerge. Stepien has been slammed over the Republican loss in the Alabama Senate race, which led to the state to vote for its first Democratic senator since 1997.
Trump has also reportedly been speaking to members of Congress and outside advisers over the past few weeks, who have warned him that losing GOP control of the House will likely lead to impeachment proceedings and block him from any further legislative victories, making any 2020 reelection bid far more challenging.
Even more to leave White House?
Kelly’s restructuring also comes as the White House is expecting even more departures around the one-year mark of Trump’s presidency.
Deputy national security adviser Dina Powell recently informed the White House she plans to leave in early 2018. Powell is leaving the administration on good terms and may continue to help advise on Middle East policy from the outside.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who has clashed with the president and is widely disliked in the White House, is also expected to leave early next year, with the White House already readying a plan for his exit, The Post reported.
Gary Cohn, director of the National Economic Council, could also soon depart. Once considered to be Trump’s top choice to lead the Federal Reserve, he provoked the president’s fury after he publicly criticized Trump in the wake of the Charlottesville white-supremacist rally that left one woman dead.