A new announcement was reported that might help provide some clarity as to who is and is not leaving the White House. Evidently, White House Legislative Director Marc Short is getting ready to exit the Trump administration and it could be anytime. Word on the Hill is that Short has been complaining to his colleagues about so-called “diminishing returns” of advocating for President Trump’s legislative agenda on Capitol Hill. He leaked to others about how awful his job is and now he’s reportedly leaving, probably before he’s set to be fired. The Washington Post’s Josh Dawsey tweeted Thursday that White House officials told them Short will leave ahead of the November elections.
As the White House’s top aide in advancing Trump’s agenda through Congress, Short has frequently appeared on news shows to defend the administration’s legislative priorities. He told his legislative affairs staff that he discussed his departure with his wife and family and laid out a timeline for leaving this summer. The source described the mood in the meeting as “bittersweet” because Short is well-liked among the staff. That’s when you show what you are really made of and you double down in the fight.
One potential successor to Short is Shahira Knight, who is currently the deputy director of the National Economic Council. Kelly has spoken to Knight about the job and she expressed her interest, according to one person familiar with the conversation. She is declining to comment at this time and I don’t blame her. She was hired by former NEC Director Gary Cohn. Knight has given her notice and was set to join a banking policy and lobbying group. Her last day at the White House is scheduled for next Monday. But she has also spoken to colleagues about potentially staying longer at the White House after her new boss, Lawrence Kudlow, recently suffered a heart attack, according to a White House official.
Short oversees the White House’s congressional outreach efforts. In his rush to decry how the administration’s staffers leak to the press, he did the very same thing himself. Not cool. Legislative affairs director Marc Short told White House Chief of Staff John Kelly before the president’s trip to Singapore that he is likely to leave soon. Asked to comment, Short said, “There are so many leaks in this building.” Some of his critics accused him of being a leak.
Short was an aide to Vice President Mike Pence during the presidential campaign in 2016. He has worked at the White House since the inauguration. You would think he would know better. Instead of complaining about leaks, ferret out who is doing it and report it to the proper head to handle it. There is a chain of command in the White House that should be used. Short follows others such as former White House communications director Hope Hicks, Jared Kushner’s top communications adviser Josh Raffel and National Security Council spokesman Michael Anton out the door.
While Short is on his way out before the midterm elections, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders is not. Rumors went wild yesterday that she was leaving and the press was giddy over it. CBS had posted an article that could have been considered fake or misleading. That was later corrected when Sanders posted on Twitter to challenge their article.
Principal Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah is not leaving either. Both will probably move on before the 2020 election gets fully underway, but then again maybe not.
Short’s time in the White House has had its ups and downs, reflecting the Trump administration’s legislative record. His main accomplishment has been the tax package that Republicans approved in December. But even on that, many believe that Cohn and his team deserve most of the credit there. The White House has been unable to repeal Obamacare, has all but abandoned its push for an infrastructure spending package and has been unable to find consensus within the Republican Party on an immigration overhaul, not to mention funding the wall.
Late last year, Short was a leading contender to take over the Heritage Foundation, a conservative, Washington-based think tank, according to people familiar with the matter. But he told The Wall Street Journal at the time that he would remain in the White House. “I’m actually having fun, in a sick way,” Short said in November.
Wherever Short lands, he will likely be well taken care of. However, it’s a shame that someone would walk away from a job working for the President of the United States.