The report, based on anonymous sources, alleges that the memos have circulated in the White House, produced by individuals including a GOP Senate staffer and a group of conservative activists named “Groundswell,” which is led by Ginni Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.
On Fox News’ “Outnumbered Overtime” with Harris Faulkner on Monday, White House adviser Kellyanne Conway defended Trump’s right to hire and fire as he wishes and emphasized that the president is the person who sets executive branch policy.
“We should not have people in government who are undermining the president’s agenda. The president got elected because his … ideas prevailed,” Conway said, when asked about the report. “You want your views to become policy, you need to put your name on the ballot and become president of the United States.”
According to Axios, Thomas at one point handed one of the memos produced by Groundswell directly to President Trump, which included the names of several conservatives loyal to Trump which the group recommended that he hire for various positions, including former Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke for a senior role in the Department of Homeland Security.
White House aide John McEntee, right, and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin’s Chief of Staff Eli Miller, left, stand in the Oval Office. McEntee recently rejoined the White House as the head of the Office of Presidential Personnel.
This development comes on the heels of news, also reported by Axios, that the new head of the Office of Presidential Personnel, Johnny McEntee, asked White House aides to identify members of the government who might be anti-Trump.
One memo that Axios reports on specifically involves the former nominee to be Treasury Department undersecretary for terrorism and financial crimes Jessie Liu. The memo spelled out why Liu was not sufficiently pro-Trump at her previous post as U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia.
Reasons included Liu not pursuing criminal referrals that came from the Senate Judiciary Committee on the heels of Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing, asking for jail time for ex-national security adviser Michael Flynn, not indicting former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe and more.
Trump later withdrew Liu’s nomination to the Treasury Department post.
There were other memos like the Liu memo that made it to Trump’s desk, according to Axios, including one that named several State Department officers.
The Trump administration has taken action against other figures that might be perceived as disloyal to Trump, such as recalling U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland from his post earlier this month and removing Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman from the National Security Council. Both actions, against officials who testified to the House of Representatives in its impeachment inquiry into Trump, came in the immediate wake of the Senate’s acquittal of Trump on both impeachment articles passed by the House.