My God. POTUS grew a sense of decorum and decided that no longer will he tolerate deputies that bring the White House’s good name into disrepute.
Nah, I’m just kidding. This almost certainly has nothing to do with upset over her McCain joke. If anything, given Trump’s own grudge against Maverick for torpedoing ObamaCare repeal, the joke was an argument against letting her go.
Kelly Sadler, the White House communications aide who made a imprudent comment about Republican Sen. John McCain’s health last month, no longer works in the administration, three sources with knowledge of the matter said on Tuesday.
In the aftermath of the comment — in which Sadler told a meeting that McCain’s opposition to CIA director nominee Gina Haspel didn’t matter because he’s “dying” — the White House refused to condemn her remark. She remained on the staff for nearly a month before departing.
Two possibilities here, neither one of which has to do with offending McCain. First, Trump called a meeting last month to discuss leaking after the media got wind of Sadler’s joke and assured her that she wouldn’t be fired for it, according to Axios. (The details of that meeting also leaked, of course.) When he asked the attendees who they thought had been leaking, Sadler made the mistake of accusing none other than her boss in the comms department, Mercedes Schlapp, of being one of the worst. Schlapp was reportedly taken aback at the suggestion. And Schlapp is no minor player. She’s a Fox News regular, has been considered for Hope Hicks’s old job of communications director, and is married to Matt Schlapp, head of the American Conservative Union. If Sadler offended Schlapp, there’s every reason to think Schlapp would have the juice to get her fired.
The Daily Beast picks up the story from there:
Trump sat behind the Resolute Desk, watching the drama unfold in real time. The meeting adjourned shortly after the tense—even for the Trump White House—exchange. But the drama didn’t end there. Two sources recounted that Schlapp remained heated, saying that in separate conversations detailing what happened in the Oval, she referred to Sadler as “a bitch.”…
Late last week, Schlapp and press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders met to discuss potential personnel changes as a means of stemming the flow of White House leaks. And according to two administration sources, Sadler’s name was among those raised as a possible target for dismissal.
Schlapp adamantly denied calling Sadler a “bitch” afterward but as for the claim that she targeted her for dismissal, well, here we are. The other possibility, as the Beast implies, is that in the endless hunt for leakers, Trump and Schlapp came to believe that Sadler herself was a culprit. The White House had been looking to make an example of lower-ranking deputies for leaking in the wake of the Sadler/McCain episode. Maybe some of the breadcrumbs they were following led to Sadler herself.
Sadler reportedly apologized privately to Meghan McCain last month for her joke and promised that she’d apologize publicly — but never did. That may have been due to fear of unemployment: In this White House, apologizing for anything is more of a firing offense than doing the thing you felt obliged to apologize for is. Maybe now that Sadler’s unemployed anyway she’ll say something. In lieu of an exit question, here’s McCain making the case that the Eagles should have sucked it up and gone to the White House today whether they wanted to or not. Fair enough, but when Bruins goalie Tim Thomas skipped out on the White House ceremony with Obama years ago because he found his policies objectionable, he had plenty of tea-party cheerleaders and plenty of left-wing critics. Do we want a rule where athletes should put politics aside and gladhand the president or don’t we?