Donald Trump is all about loyalty

Loyalty has long been crucial to President Donald Trump, and he uses it in his remarks frequently.

Posted: Mar 30, 2018 8:09 AM
Updated: Mar 30, 2018 8:09 AM

For President Donald Trump -- a creature of habit and routine -- once an adviser, always an adviser.

Rob Porter, the former senior White House aide who resigned days after both of his ex-wives publicly accused him of domestic abuse, is just the latest example of Trump's boomerang orbit.

Once a rising star inside the West Wing -- even being eyed for a promotion -- Porter swiftly became persona non grata for fear any further White House contact would be taken as tacit approval of domestic violence.

But not for Trump.

The President has spoken with Porter multiple times since he left the White House, relishing his former aide as an outside sounding board and counselor, a source familiar with the matter told CNN. The New York Times reported Monday that those conversations have morphed into Trump pining for his Porter's return, telling aides that he hopes his former adviser returns to the West Wing.

While White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Tuesday that she was not aware of any plans for Porter to return to the White House, but she did confirm that the President has talked to the former aide at least "one time" since his departure.

Porter's experience is far from unique.

In fact, a series of one-time White House staffers who were deemed unfit for a Trump administration job -- for security clearance or personal reasons -- have either been kept close to the President or made their way to the growing orbit of pro-Trump organizations.

West Wing as Hotel California

When John McEntee, a longtime personal aide to Trump, was fired and escorted out of the White House earlier this month for concerns over his finances and reports of a gambling problem, he spent mere minutes on the job market.

That's because, despite the concerns, McEntee was quickly handed a job at Trump's 2020 campaign, allowing the 27-year-old aide to transform his White House pink slip into a role as senior adviser for campaign operations.

The revolving door gives the Trump orbit a Hotel California feel, where aides and advisers are able to check out of the confines of the Trump administration, but unable to truly ever leave the gravitational pull of the larger-than-life President.

Reince Priebus became the shortest-serving chief of staff in presidential history when he was brusquely let go last year. But he's since lunched with the President and continues to talk with him on occasion.

Carl Higbie was fired from the Trump administration after CNN's KFile reported on his racist, sexist, anti-Muslim and anti-LGBT comments on the radio. He was tapped earlier this month as the director of advocacy at America First Policies, a non-profit pro-Trump organization.

Keith Schiller, Trump's longtime body guard-turned-personal aide, left the White House last year, but within months he was hired by the Republican National Committee, making $15,000 a month for security consulting around the 2020 Republican convention.

And Corey Lewandowski, Trump's one-time campaign manager who was fired in the midst of the campaign, remains closely linked with the President and people around Trump, making him a key White House surrogate who is known to have Trump's ear.

'The best people'

Keeping aides and advisers close is a hallmark of most typical politicians. Hillary Clinton, Trump's 2016 opponent, was famous for her decades-old Rolodex and never truly excommunicating people from her world of informal advisers and outside aides. Trump has fallen into the same routine, even as he ran for president as a different type of politician who would only hire "the best people."

The phenomenon is especially noteworthy because of the historic turnover that has plagued the Trump White House for the President's first 14 months in office. With more aides leaving the administration -- some estimates find around 40% of top White House positions have been vacated during Trump's time in office -- more jobs are needed to find these advisers a cushy place to land.

This is what happened with Katie Walsh, the longtime Republican operative who came into the West Wing as Priebus' deputy. After the Trump administration failed to pass health care reform, Walsh was ousted but transitioned directly to serve as a senior adviser to America First Policies.

Enabling this boomerang effect is Trump's emphasis on loyalty. The President craves faithfulness from all of those around him and has written about that desire throughout his decades-long career. While the longing doesn't prevent Trump for kicking those aides to the curb, it does make Trump more likely to keep aides at arm's length.

"The thing that's most important to me is loyalty," Trump said early in his career. "You can't hire loyalty ... The thing I really look for though, over the longer term, is loyalty."

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