May 21, 2019

Trump aide DeStefano to finish at White House this week

DeStefano (second from right) walks to Marine One in February 2018 with Trump aide Dan Scavino, then-White House chief of staff John Kelly, and National Security Council chief of staff Keith Kellogg. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

John DeStefano, a top aide to President Trump for the past two and a half years, is finishing up at the White House this week, per sources with direct knowledge. DeStefano officially resigned to the president yesterday, these sources said, and his last day in the office will be Friday.

Why it matters: DeStefano’s role expanded substantially during his tenure. He was originally hired to run the Office of Presidential Personnel (PPO). By the end of his tenure he was tasked with overseeing PPO, the Office of Public Liaison, the Office of Political Affairs, and Office of Intergovernmental Affairs.

What's next: Sources who have spoken to DeStefano say he will leave government and will likely go to the private sector. These sources say he has met with executives at the electronic cigarette company Juul, among other companies. He’s told friends he won’t be lobbying the administration.

  • The Washington Post’s Josh Dawsey was the first to report the news of his departure. 

DeStefano has a long background in Republican politics. He worked for former House Speaker John Boehner after working for the House Republican Conference and the National Republican Congressional Committee, the campaign organization for House Republicans. 

  • He also ran The Data Trust, which became the preferred outside data firm of the Republican Party.

Go deeper

Exclusive: Trump's "Deep State" hit list

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photos: WPA Pool/Getty Pool, Drew Angerer/Getty Staff

The Trump White House and its allies, over the past 18 months, assembled detailed lists of disloyal government officials to oust — and trusted pro-Trump people to replace them — according to more than a dozen sources familiar with the effort who spoke to Axios.

Driving the news: By the time President Trump instructed his 29-year-old former body man and new head of presidential personnel to rid his government of anti-Trump officials, he'd gathered reams of material to support his suspicions.

Exclusive: Anti-Sanders campaign targets black South Carolina voters

Courtesy of The Big Tent Project

The Big Tent Project, a Democratic political group focused on promoting moderate presidential candidates, has sent hundreds of thousands of mailers bashing Bernie Sanders to black voters in South Carolina who voted in the state's 2016 primary.

Why it matters: Sanders' rise to the top of the pack, as dueling moderate candidates split their side of the vote, is worrying many in the Democratic political establishment who fear a socialist can't beat President Trump.

Inside the fight over FBI surveillance powers

Carter Page. Photo: Artyom Korotayev\TASS via Getty Images

Over the past year, President Trump has told senior administration officials, including Attorney General Bill Barr, that he wants a major overhaul of national security surveillance powers and the secret court that approves them.

Behind the scenes: In one such discussion last year about the need to reauthorize government authorities to surveil U.S. citizens, Trump went so far as to say he'd rather get rid of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) altogether.