WASHINGTON – President Trump's personal assistant, John McEntee, was abruptly fired Monday over what are being described as security reasons, according to several news reports.
The New York Times reported McEntee apparently lost his security clearance, joining other White House staffers including Trump's son-in-law and senior policy adviser Jared Kushner who had temporary top-secret clearances but saw their status downgraded in the wake of the Rob Porter scandal.
Revelations that Porter, the White House staff secretary, had access to classified information despite accusations of domestic violence against him prompted a review of security procedures within the White House.
Other outlets, including CNN, were reporting that McEntee was being investigated for "serious financial crimes," though not connected to the president himself. CNN said he had a permanent security clearance at the time of his ouster though other outlets disputed that.
The Wall Street Journal, which first reported McEntee's firing, said he was escorted out of the White House on Monday.
Within hours of his ouster, McEntee went to work for Trump's reelection campaign.
On Wednesday, Deputy White House Press Sceretary Raj Shah declined to say why he was fired.
“Johnny McEntee has taken a position at the campaign and I think he’s going to do a great job," Shah said.
News of McEntee's departure came on an especially tumultuous day for the White House. Trump fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson Tuesday. Steve Goldstein, undersecretary of State for public diplomacy, was also dismissed for giving reporters differing accounts of how the secretary of State learned of his fate.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., the top Democrat on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, sent a letter to White House Chief of Staff John Kelly within hours of McEntee's firing, requesting documents relating to McEntee's firing and questions about his security clearance.
“This recent report about President Trump’s personal assistant is just the latest indication that the process for vetting White House employees for security issues is seriously flawed,” Cummings wrote. “The White House’s ongoing obstruction of congressional oversight appears to be an attempt to conceal from the American people pervasive and widespread dysfunction inside the White House, which directly threatens our nation’s security.”
Walter Schaub, former director office of government ethics under President Barack Obama, told CNN on Tuesday that the fact that Homeland Security is conducting the probe, rather than the FBI which normally conducts security clearance checks, suggests that this is "really troubling ... and clearly completely different than just a background investigation."
A call to a phone number listed as McEntee's was not answered Tuesday afternoon.
The former University of Connecticut quarterback had gained a measure of fame on social media for a video of trick shots he performed several years ago.
White House officials said McEntee was leaving to join Trump's 2020 reelection campaign.