It’s looking like it might be spring-cleaning season at the White House.
Not only did Communications Director Hope Hicks announce her departure on Wednesday, ending her run as President Trump’s longest-tenured staffer, but a series of reports have suggested a number of other top-ranking officials might be clearing out their offices and desks soon. Those rumored to be considering exits include Jared Kushner, John Kelly, H.R. McMaster, Gary Cohn, and Jeff Sessions.
One could be forgiven for treating these reports with some skepticism. Every one of them has been the subject of similar speculation in the past—which could indicate just how long the final departure has been coming, or could suggest the reports not be taken seriously. Yet there are also plenty of reasons why officials might be interested in leaving, many of them interwoven. It is common for administrations to see turnover in their second year. But there are also Trump-specific circumstances: It’s clear that working for this president is particularly trying; there remain serious disagreements about policy; and special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation haunts the White House.
At the top of the card is Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser. Kushner, who quickly acquired a sprawling portfolio despite having no experience in government and diplomacy nor a permanent security clearance, has clashed with other administration officials at times, but he has appeared to be somewhat insulated by the fact that the president is his father-in-law. It’s no longer clear that’s enough protection. Last week, Kushner lost his clearance to see top-secret material, a change that Trump could have blocked but did not.