WASHINGTON – United States President Donald Trump has made the resignations and firings of administration officials into a veritable reality show, whose protagonists often find out about their terminations via presidential Twitter posts.
The media expectation surrounding these cabinet departures are a reflection of the popular network show “The Apprentice” that turned Trump into a household name with his aggressive catchphrase “You’re fired!”
The following are the six officials who left the administration amid the most controversy:
1. JOHN BOLTON, THE HAWK WHO WAS EVEN MORE BELLIGERENT THAN TRUMP
Trump only needed two tweets to dispatch his national security adviser, John Bolton, a foreign policy “hawk” with a penchant for interventionism.
“I informed John Bolton last night that his services are no longer needed at the White House,” Trump wrote on the social media platform on Tuesday.
During his 17 months at the White House, Bolton increased tensions with Iran and ramped up the diplomatic pressure on the three countries he dubbed the “Troika of Tyranny,” Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua.
The relationship between Trump and Bolton had been becoming more and more strained due to the president’s frustration with the lack of progress in the strategy against Venezuela.
However, the straw that broke the camel’s back was Bolton’s opposition to Trump’s negotiation with the Taliban, the main player in Afghanistan’s militant insurgency.
2. ALEX ACOSTA, AN OUSTER FUELED BY THE EPSTEIN SCANDAL
Alex Acosta, Trump’s labor secretary for more than two years and the only Hispanic cabinet member, was forced to resign over his role in the scandal involving business mogul Jeffrey Epstein, who was accused of child sex trafficking and committed suicide on Aug. 10 while in jail.
As a federal prosecutor in Miami in 2008, Acosta reached a deal with Epstein that allowed the millionaire to dodge a trial for allegedly raping several teenage girls in one of his mansions in Palm Beach, Florida.
On this occasion, Trump praised Acosta, but he said he understood that the latter did not want the Epstein scandal to become a distraction within the government.
3. JAMES MATTIS, THE HONORABLE GENERAL
If there’s one resignation that has impacted the global chessboard it is that of Gen. James Mattis, who served as Trump’s defense secretary between January 2017 and January 2019.
Mattis tendered his resignation in December 2018 after failing to persuade Trump to keep US troops deployed in Syria.
The letter in which Mattis announced he was quitting caused a stir in the press. In it, the general gave an impassioned defense of the US’ system of alliances throughout the world and argued that Washington should treat its allies with respect as well as be “resolute and unequivocal” with its geopolitical rivals, such as China and Russia.
Mattis’ letter instantly provoked Trump’s ire. The president forced the general to leave ahead of schedule: Mattis stepped down as Pentagon chief on Jan. 1 instead of at the end February, as he had planned.
4. JEFF SESSIONS, FROM LOVE TO HATE
As in Mattis’ case, Trump also went from love to hate in his attitude toward Jeff Sessions, a key surrogate in his presidential campaign who served as attorney general between January 2017-November 2018.
The former Alabama senator stoked Trump’s ire when he decided to recuse himself from the justice department’s investigation into the multiple ties between the Trump campaign and Russia.
Trump even said that, had he known Sessions would recuse himself from the Russia investigation, he would never have picked him to lead the Department of Justice.
On countless occasions, Trump took to Twitter to mock and ridicule Sessions: he called him “weak” and repeatedly condemned what he described as Sessions’ “disgraceful” behavior.
5. JAMES COMEY, OR FINDING OUT YOU’VE BEEN FIRED VIA TV
James Comey, the ousted former director of the Federal Bureau of Investigations, found out Trump had fired him while he was at an event with FBI agents in Los Angeles, California. Suddenly, the television screens in the room flared up with a CNN chyron telling viewers that Comey was leaving the administration.
At the time, Comey thought it was a joke and even chuckled before receiving confirmation that the White House had actually told the media of his firing before informing him.
However, Comey later sought revenge and told lawmakers in Congress and several media outlets about some of the skeletons in Trump’s closet. For instance, he revealed that the president had pressured him to shut down the investigation into his then-national security adviser, Michael Flynn, one of the key subjects in the Russian electoral meddling case.
6. JOHN KELLY, THE GENERAL WHO GOT TIRED OF TRYING TO IMPOSE ORDER
Gen. John Kelly arrived at the White House in July 2017 as chief of staff with the difficult mission of imposing order in a West Wing consumed by power struggles between staffers. He managed to instill some discipline among Trump’s inner circle, but he failed miserably to do so with the president himself, who preferred to continue with his chaotic style and unorthodox Twitter announcements.
Their relationship reached a peak of tension when Kelly criticized Trump in front of a group of lawmakers, which poked the president’s notorious rage.
The result was a curt statement by Trump to the press: “John Kelly will be leaving toward the end of the year.”
And that is exactly what happened.