WASHINGTON – John McEntee, who has served as President Donald Trump's personal assistant since Trump won the presidency, was forced out of his position and escorted from the White House on Monday after an investigation into his finances caused his security clearance to be revoked, officials with knowledge of the incident said.
But McEntee will remain in the president's orbit despite his abrupt departure from the White House. Trump's re-election campaign announced Tuesday that McEntee has been named senior adviser for campaign operations, putting him in a position to remain as a close aide during the next several years.
The campaign's decision underscores Trump's tolerance for — and often encouragement of — dueling centers of power around him. And it highlights the extent to which the re-election campaign has already become a landing pad for former Trump associates who have left the White House but remain loyal to the president.
Officials declined to say what issues prompted the security concerns about McEntee. Two people familiar with the decision to remove McEntee from the White House said he was known by colleagues to be a gambler.
John Kelly, the White House chief of staff, has said in recent weeks that too many staff members were operating on interim security clearances because they could not pass FBI background checks. A White House spokesman declined to comment on McEntee's firing.
But a senior administration official said that many of the president's top aides were shocked and dismayed by the abrupt departure, which was first reported by the Wall Street Journal.
For Trump, the absence of McEntee strips away another of the handful of close associates who have constantly been by his side as he made the transition from real estate mogul to politician. Keith Schiller, the president's longtime director of security, left the White House in September. Hope Hicks, the director of communications and one of Trump's closest aides, has announced she is leaving in the coming days.
That left McEntee, who worked on the president's campaign and was brought into the White House to be Trump's "body guy," the aide who travels with the president wherever he goes. During presidential trips, McEntee and the White House doctor were two aides who were never left off the travel manifest. Aides said McEntee often tried to keep hangers-on away from Trump when he traveled to his Mar-a-Lago estate.
Now, with McEntee gone, the president will have none of his closest, most trusted aides by his side at all times. Kellyanne Conway, who remains close to Trump, does not frequently travel with the president. Ivanka Trump, his daughter, and her husband, Jared Kushner, have offices near Trump's but play different roles.
McEntee, a former quarterback with the University of Connecticut, worked at Fox News in 2015 when he volunteered on Trump's campaign and quickly became a full-time staff member. Over the course of the chaotic campaign, McEntee became close with Trump and joined the small cadre of loyal, trusted aides around him.
But unlike many of Trump's more famous advisers, McEntee was absent from public view, making virtually no comments to the media and remaining largely under the radar amid the backbiting and chaos swirling around the president.