‘Why in the world would you want to put your enemy on the payroll?’ said one adviser close to the White House.
The Trump campaign has hired its own in-house attorney for its 2020 reelection bid — shifting future business away from Jones Day, the law firm, that has represented Trump since his first run for president.
Campaign officials and advisers cast the decision to hire Nathan Groth — a former lawyer for the Republican National Committee and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker — as a money-saving move, supported by the businessman-turned-president who loves to cut costs.
But close Trump advisers say the decision also stems from disappointment with the White House’s former top attorney and current Jones Day partner, Don McGahn, whose behavior has irked the president and some of his family members.
Taking business away from Jones Day is payback, these advisers say, for McGahn’s soured relationship with the Trump family and a handful articles in high-profile newspapers that the family blames, unfairly or not, on the former White House counsel.
“Why in the world would you want to put your enemy on the payroll?” said one adviser close to the White House. “They do not want to reward his firm. Trump arrived at that point long ago, but the security clearance memo stories put a fine point on it.”
One February 2019 story, in particular, caught the White House’s attention, when The New York Times reported that the president ordered John Kelly, his chief of staff at the time, to grant a security clearance to Jared Kushner. Kelly had written an internal memo on it, according to the Times. That fact was closely held inside the White House, and few officials other than Kelly and McGahn knew, say two close White House advisers — and the administration blamed McGahn for the leak.
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