WASHINGTON — White House press secretary Sarah Sanders insisted there are no staffing changes for now, amid more expected West Wing departures. Sanders said White House chief of staff John Kelly met with some staffers Friday morning and reassured them there are no staff changes at this time.
“The chief of staff actually spoke to a number of staff this morning, reassuring them that there were no immediate personnel changes at this time,” Sanders told reporters. “People shouldn’t be concerned. We should do exactly what we do every day.”
But congressional administration sources have told CBS News’ chief White House correspondent Major Garrett that National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster is very likely to lose his job, and Kelly himself could also be on his way out soon. Sanders insisted McMaster is key in handling matters of national security. On Friday, the White House said President Trump told South Korea’s president, Moon Jae-in, he still intends to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un by the end of May.
“General McMaster is a dedicated public servant, and he is here focused … on some really big issues — things like North Korea, things like Russia, things like Iran,” she said. “That is what he is doing.”
McMaster, caught by ABC News in the West Wing, gave a cryptic response to a question about his future. He said Sanders set things straight the night before, when she said there were no staff changes, but then he said this:
“Everybody’s going to leave the White House sometime,” McMaster said, laughing. “Hey, hey, I’m doing my job.”
A little more than a year in office, more than 20 top aides have either resigned, been fired or reassigned, CBS News correspondent Jericka Duncan reports.
Within the last month, communication director Hope Hicks resigned, economic advisor Gary Cohn left and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was fired. The constant change can be disruptive to governing, says Jim Nussle, former director of the Office of Management and Budget under George W. Bush.
“It can sometimes take away from the momentum of the agenda, there’s no question about that. It can sometimes change the direction of the agenda,” Nussle told CBS News.
Still, Sanders said the president should be and is free to make decisions and changes as needed.
Mr. Trump himself defended the turnover, saying, “I like conflict.” He ousted Secretary of State Rex Tillerson very publicly on Twitter Tuesday morning.
© 2018 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.