Aug 31, 2019 - Politics & Policy

Trump forgives ousted aide for speaking with reporters

President Trump leaving the White House

President Trump leaves the Oval Office Friday. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Trump said he considered the ouster of his personal assistant, Madeleine Westerhout, to be virtually "automatic" after he found out about comments she made during an off-the-record dinner with reporters.

Why it matters: Westerhout, whose title was director of Oval Office operations, sat right outside the Oval Office, and had unique visibility into the president's calls, visitors and correspondence. She was one of very few West Wing officials who had been there from Day 1.

What he's saying: Trump, speaking Friday on the South Lawn before boarding Marine One, told reporters that Westerhout had called him moments earlier and "was very upset — she was down."

  • Trump tweeted Saturday morning: "While Madeleine Westerhout has a fully enforceable confidentiality agreement, she is a very good person and I don’t think there would ever be reason to use it. She called me yesterday to apologize, had a bad night. I fully understood and forgave her!"

Asked about a report by Politico concerning the contents of Westerhout's dish, Trump said the idea that he didn't want to be photographed with Tiffany Trump, his youngest daughter, was "just absolutely false."

  • "Tiffany is great," he said. "I love Tiffany. ...I look forward to talking to her."

Westerhout, whose access to the White House was revoked Thursday, made the off-the-record remarks at a dinner with reporters who were covering him during this month's summer break in New Jersey.

  • "Everything she said was off the record," Trump told reporters. "And that still doesn’t really cover for her. She mentioned a couple of things about my children."
  • "I think the press is very dishonest because it was supposed to be off the record," he added. "But, still, you don’t say things like she said, which were just a little bit hurtful to some people."

The president said Westerhout told him she had been drinking at the dinner.

  • "She’s a very ... good person," Trump said. "I always felt she did a good job. ... ... I really think she had a bad night. ... And I wish her well."
  • "[T]he press breaks off-the-records all the time because they are very dishonorable. Many of them. Not all of you, but many of them are very dishonorable."
Go deeper