With President Trump directly intervening in the case of his ally Roger Stone, four U.S. attorneys resigning from the case in protest, and Attorney General William Barr warning that the president should attempt to hide his disdain for the rule of law a little more artfully, it was easy to miss another worrying development in the White House this week.
On Thursday, multiple reports indicated that John McEntee had been tapped to run the Presidential Personnel Office, which oversees all vetting and hiring for White House jobs.
McEntee’s name may sound familiar to hard-core White House–personnel watchers. He was fired back in May 2018 and suddenly escorted from the White House at the order of then–chief of staff John Kelly, after a federal investigation revealed that McEntee had committed “serious financial crimes.” The Wall Street Journal reported at the time that McEntee had a major gambling problem and issues with his taxes. McEntee had also been working without a permanent security clearance because he was unable to pass a background check. But those small blemishes on his record were hardly enough to keep him from Trump’s orbit. Less than a day later, the Trump 2020 campaign hired him as a senior adviser for campaign operations.
The New York Times reported in December that McEntee would be returning to the White House.
Like many Trump loyalists who have amassed considerable power by virtue of their personal ties to the president, McEntee’s background in politics is basically nonexistent. Less than a decade ago, he was the starting quarterback for the University of Connecticut’s football team. From there, he became Trump’s “body man.”
According to Axios, Trump views McEntee as an ultra-loyalist who will help him confront the cabal of disloyal federal government “Never Trumpers” that the president imagines around him. “Trump has been asking for names of people he should fire,” Axios reported, and “with McEntee at the helm of PPO, Trump’s hardcore allies will have a freer hand than ever with personnel across the federal government.”