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5 high-profile departures in 2 weeks for Trump's 'no chaos' White House

Updated 5:48 PM ET, Tue March 13, 2018

Washington (CNN) - President Donald Trump has tried to quell talk of chaos in his administration for days, but the last two weeks inside the West Wing have been anything but calm.

Over the last 14 days, five top Trump administration officials -- from one of Trump's most trusted communications advisers to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson -- have either been fired or resigned.

The pandemonium belies Trump's tweet earlier this month that boasted "no chaos, only great energy" inside the West Wing.

"The new Fake News narrative is that there is CHAOS in the White House," Trump wrote. "Wrong! People will always come & go, and I want strong dialogue before making a final decision. I still have some people that I want to change (always seeking perfection). There is no Chaos, only great Energy!"

Rex Tillerson, secretary of state

Tillerson is the most recent -- and highest-profile -- departure.

Trump announced his departure over Twitter on Tuesday morning, adding that he would nominate Mike Pompeo, his current CIA director, to replace the former oil executive. He later told reporters that he got "along well with Rex" but that he an Pompeo had a more cohesive "thought process."

"I think Rex will be much happier now," Trump said before leaving for California.

Tillerson's ouster had been rumored for months as his relationship with the President soured. Undersecretary for Public Diplomacy Steve Goldstein said Tillerson, who had been on a week-long tour of African nations until Tuesday morning, did not speak to Trump before his ouster and is unaware of the reasons behind the firing.

Goldstein was fired Tuesday morning after Tillerson's exit.

Gary Cohn, National Economic Council director

Gary Cohn, Trump's top economic adviser, resigned from the White House last week after he voiced his fierce disagreement with the President's decision to levy steel and aluminum tariffs.

Cohn's departure was largely unexpected, especially considering he was rumored to be a possible successor to chief of staff John Kelly just weeks before he left.

Trump is expected to name Larry Kudlow, a longtime informal adviser, to the role.

Trump told reporters on Tuesday that he was "looking at Larry Kudlow very strongly."

"I've known him a long time," Trump said. "We don't agree on everything, but in this case, I think that's good. I want to have a divergent opinion."

Hope Hicks, White House communications director

Hicks, one of Trump's longest-serving aides and communications director, resigned from the White House in late February.

Her departure sent shockwaves throughout the White House given her role as a key Trump confidante who routinely acted as a go-between for White House advisers who lacked the kind of relationship Hicks enjoyed.

Her rise inside the White House was dramatic -- from a Trump Organization spokesperson to one of the most powerful people in the White House in a matter of years. Her tenure ended in a similarly dramatic fashion, coming the day after she appeared before lawmakers investigating allegations that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia's 2016 election meddling.

Her departure also came weeks after former senior Trump aide Rob Porter resigned in the wake of a domestic violence scandal. Hicks was in a romantic relationship with Porter at the time.

John McEntee, personal aide to the President

John McEntee, Trump's longtime personal aide and bodyman, was fired and escorted from the White House on Monday, three sources with knowledge of the situation told CNN on Tuesday.

McEntee, a former college quarterback who rose to a position that found him in regular contact with the President, was an early Trump campaign staffer. He is just the latest in a long line of staffers who started with Trump during the campaign to leave the White House.

A source familiar with his firing told CNN that McEntee was fired because he is currently under investigation by the Department of Homeland Security for serious financial crimes. McEntee declined to comment.

Trump's 2020 campaign, though, announced on Tuesday that McEntee would be joining the operation as a senior adviser.

Josh Raffel, White House communications aide

The White House announced in February that Josh Raffel, a senior spokesman who worked closely with Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump, was leaving the Trump administration.

A White House official told CNN at the time that Raffel, who has deep ties to Kushner, was leaving the White House in months and returning to the private sector in New York.


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