White House abruptly transfers DHS official amid loyalty purge

Source: Politico | March 25, 2020 | Daniel Lippman

Heather Swift, the deputy assistant secretary of public affairs at DHS, was moved to a senior post at the National Endowment for the Arts.

The White House removed a top public affairs official at the Department of Homeland Security in a move that shocked many in the department as it takes a lead role in handling the coronavirus pandemic, according to two former senior DHS officials familiar with the matter.

Heather Swift, who was DHS’s deputy assistant secretary of public affairs, was abruptly pushed out of her position on Friday after the Presidential Personnel Office raised questions about her loyalty to President Donald Trump, said one of the former DHS officials.

The personnel office may have discovered some old social media postings that officials there did not like, this person said, though POLITICO was unable to find any examples of posts the Trump administration might find objectionable.

Swift, who has not yet left the department, is moving to a top communications job at the National Endowment for the Arts, a detour well outside the administration’s power corridors.

The transfer represents a fresh blow to Swift’s career aspirations: Several months ago, after serving for a few months in an acting capacity as the top public affairs official at DHS, she angled for that job permanently — only to be disappointed when she was not promoted, according to a Trump administration official. The position instead went to Dirk Vande Beek, a veteran communications strategist who came from the Department of Energy and also worked on the 2000 Bush-Cheney campaign.

Since taking over PPO, 29-year-old John McEntee has asked Cabinet agencies to probe the records of political appointees and ferret out any who might show signs of disloyalty to the president. McEntee, a former college quarterback known for his trick plays and a longtime Trump favorite, has also come under fire within the administration for recently hiring three college seniors for sensitive jobs.

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