Flynn's Departure ‘close to Unprecedented,' But Here Are Other White House Aides Who Left Quickly

WASHINGTON — When Michael Flynn resigned his post as national security adviser earlier this week, he set a new record for shortest tenure in the role. Flynn stepped down after just 24 days, amid reports that he’d misled top White House officials about his communications with the Russian ambassador to the United States and that he might have been vulnerable to blackmail.A situation like Flynn’s — with a departure involving a scandal, at the very beginning of an administration, that has senators across the aisle calling for an investigation —is rare. But top-level White House aides do occasionally leave jobs quickly, under a variety of circumstances, said Andrew Rudalevige, an expert on presidential administrations at Bowdoin College.“Reshuffles do happen sometimes,” he said. “New administrations do have growing pains, and they shake themselves down.”Here are five other examples of White House senior staffers who left their roles after relatively brief stays:1. The communications director who stepped down after 48 hoursOne of the only presidential aides in recent history with a tenure shorter than Flynn’s is Jason Miller — though he never made it to the White House.Miller was appointed White House communications director in December, but just 48 hours later, he announced he would rather spend time with his family. Meanwhile, another top Trump aide was dropping hints of Miller’s infidelity on Twitter. His speedy departure reinforced the impression that the Trump transition was a highly chaotic one.2. The national security adviser with the second-shortest tenureBefore Flynn resigned, the record for “shortest tenure” as national security adviser belonged to William H. Jackson, who held the post for only four months. But Jackson was the third man to serve as national security adviser, at a time when the role was understood differently.“In the early years, the NSA was really more of an executive secretary position,” said Elizabeth Saunders, a presidential administrations expert at George Washington University. “It wasn’t really until [President John F. Kennedy] that the role really became one for a policy adviser.”Jackson’s departure in 1957 barely earned a single mention in The New York Times. And of the 25 men who’ve held the role, the average length of service is over two and a half years.3. Allegations of bribery by a Japanese journalistThe third national security adviser with a notably short tenure, Richard Allen, still served for almost a year before he resigned from his post. Allen, who worked for President Ronald Reagan, left the role under the shadow of a very different sort of scandal. In 1981, the Justice Department investigated allegations that Allen had accepted a $1,000 cash bribe from a Japanese magazine in exchange for an interview with former first lady Nancy Reagan.Allen fervently denied any wrongdoing and said he was merely holding the $1,000 until the government could process the gift from the Japanese journalists properly. He told The New York Times that it “would have been an embarrassment” to the Japanese if he returned the money. Although no charges were brought, he resigned from his post in January 1982, just 17 days shy of a year into the job.4. The kindergarten friend who became chief of staffAnother high-ranking White House official who didn’t last long was Thomas “Mack” McLarty, the first chief of staff for President Bill Clinton. McLarty, who had been friends with Clinton since kindergarten, served in the role for a year and a half before stepping down in July 1994.Although McLarty was criticized for Clinton’s rocky start in the White House, he left the post on good terms. The day he announced his resignation, Clinton praised him as “well-liked, well-respected,” and deeply trustworthy.The chief of staff job next went to Leon Panetta, who eventually served as both director of the CIA and secretary of defense under President Barack Obama.5. The chief of staff during WatergateA final notable short-term chief of staff was Alexander Haig, a four-star general who held the position during Richard Nixon’s final year in office. According to former administration officials, Haig was “widely perceived as the acting president” during the year Nixon fought the Watergate political scandal.Haig’s tenure ended when Nixon’s did, Aug. 9, 1974. After leaving the White House, Haig served as supreme allied commander of NATO forces in Europe and as secretary of state.During the nomination process for secretary of state, Haig said he was proud that Nixon’s resignation had not led to a full-fledged constitutional crisis.“There were no tanks,” Haig said at one hearing. “There were not any sandbags outside the White House.”  Continue reading...

Copyright The Dallas Morning News
Contact Us