The team that arrived in Washington with Trump in January last month is no sure bet to survive February. While it’s not usual to see turnover inside a new administration, what sets this one apart — if one possible shake-up goes down — rests more in the when and why.
But should the White House decide to reverse course and ax National Security Adviser Michael Flynn for misleading colleagues about the nature of his pre-inauguration phone calls with the Russian ambassador, well, that would be a first. His firing would be one that Democrats, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, would welcome as they openly push for his ouster.
Here are nine more ways — some novel, others now familiar — to get fired (or forced to “resign”) by the president of the United States of America and his staff.
Mock the White House and complain about war strategy in a magazine profile
Not everyone who is sacked by the commander in chief actually gets the news — and their marching orders — directly from the Oval Office. In that way, Gen. Stanley McChrystal was different.
Make it a little too much about you, and don’t mind the guest list
Desiree Rogers was an Obama family friend and campaign fundraiser. When the new president moved into the White House in 2009, she became his administration’s first social secretary. Rogers seemed to enjoy the job, perhaps too much. At a time of recession, her appearances on the cover of glossy magazines sometimes rubbed top officials, not to mention first lady Michelle Obama, the wrong way.
The final straw came on November 24, 2009, when a pair of aspiring reality show stars crashed a State dinner — the province of social secretaries — with the Indian Prime Minister. Michaele and Tareq Salahi arrived at the White House uninvited, entered after passing through layers of security and eventually made their way to the Blue Room for a handshake with the President.
A few months later, Rogers was gone.
Be the Treasury secretary during an economic downturn
Get smeared by Breitbart — and have the administration buy it
One problem: The scene was not what it seemed.
Talk about masturbation in the mid-1990s
Elders was already a controversial figure when she was asked, at a 1994 AIDS conference, whether masturbation should be promoted as part of an effort to slow the epidemic.
“I think that is something that is a part of human sexuality and it’s a part of something that perhaps should be taught,” she said. “But we’ve not even taught our children the very basics.”
Elders later clarified her point, explaining that she meant children should be given more robust sexual education — not instructed how to masturbate. But it was too late.
Be an FBI director who runs afoul of the Clinton administration and the Justice Department
On July 19, 1993, Bill Clinton became the first president to fire an FBI director.
William Sessions was dismissed, as Clinton told a reporter that day, for “lots of reasons.” The details were hazy — a Justice Department review had turned up alleged ethics violations — and critics suggested that sidelining Sessions, an appointee of former President Ronald Reagan’s, was a political power move by the new commander in chief.
But Clinton, with the backing of his attorney general, Janet Reno, moved ahead and eventually replaced Sessions with Louis Freeh, a US district court judge.
Authorize the sale of weapons to Iran, then use the proceeds to fund Nicaraguan rebels
A Marine Corps lieutenant colonel and aide to President Ronald Reagan’s National Security Council, Oliver North was fired in 1986 after it was revealed that the US had been selling weapons to Iran and funneling the profits — in defiance of new law — to rebel fighters in Nicaragua.
Be a little too successful in probing a criminal president
Archibald Cox took over the Watergate investigation as a special prosecutor on May 18, 1973. A little more than five months later, he was fired during what came to be known as President Richard Nixon’s “Saturday Night Massacre.”
Appointed by then-Attorney General Elliot Richardson, Cox broadened the probe and eventually sought Nixon’s private tapes. When the President refused both Cox and a judge’s orders, a constitutional crisis erupted — one Nixon sought to extinguish by ordering Richardson to fire Cox. He did not, resigning along with his deputy.
Demand to bomb China, then complain when the president says ‘no’
Gen. Douglas MacArthur was a World War II legend who had been waging a successful campaign in Korea. But his immoderate ambitions got the best of him. Which was probably good news for millions of people, as President Harry Truman rejected MacArthur’s request to bomb China as a means of pressing US forces into North Korea.
Truman was insistent on Korea remaining a “limited war.” And by stripping MacArthur of his command, he guaranteed it.