White House Axes Deputy USAID Administrator to Preserve Favored Leadership

Bonnie Glick, top official at USAID, gets ax on eve of inheriting top position

Bonnie Glick
Bonnie Glick / Getty Images
November 6, 2020

The surprise firing late Friday evening of a top Trump administration foot soldier has renewed focus on John McEntee, director of the White House Presidential Personnel Office. McEntee is the driving force behind several controversial White House nominations that have driven a wedge between President Donald Trump and Republican allies in Congress.

Late Friday, as Trump was headed toward a historic election defeat, McEntee quietly fired Bonnie Glick, an administration stalwart who was set to take over the United States Agency for Intentional Development (USAID). The mysterious firing, which came just hours before Glick was to takeover USAID, is being viewed as part of an effort by McEntee to purge administration officials he dislikes in the final months of Trump’s tenure in office.

Glick was in line to inherit control of USAID after Acting Administrator John Barsa was forced to step down under the Federal Vacancies Reform Act, which only permits the acting heads of agencies to serve for 210 days. The law initiated a situation in which only Glick had the power to act as USAID’s leader. It is believed McEntee fired Glick in order to allow Barsa to remain in the post.

McEntee, Trump’s onetime bodyman who was terminated in 2018 amid a "financial crime investigation," was rehired in February and is seen as an ally of the isolationist foreign policy community, which has worked with McEntee to forward several controversial nominees that more traditional GOP lawmakers in Congress see as unfit for office.

The firing of Glick, who was one of the most senior Jewish officials serving in the administration, raised eyebrows among many insiders and could be a sign of what’s to come in the administration’s final months. McEntee personally signed off on Glick’s termination, potentially without approval from the president, sources speculated. Just hours after Glick was axed, Defense Secretary Mark Esper offered his resignation, perhaps as a preemptive move to avoid an embarrassing public firing.

McEntee is seen as the architect of several contested nominations, chiefly those of the ambassadorial nominees to Afghanistan and Germany. The Washington Free Beacon first reported in September that Republican Senate leaders refused to confirm the two nominees.

U.S. Army Colonel Douglas Macgregor, who was up for the job in Germany, was viewed as unconfirmable due to his controversial comments about Jewish control in the foreign policy world. William Ruger, a U.S. Navy reserve officer and key figure in Charles Koch's philanthropic empire, was nominated to fill the vacant ambassadorship in Afghanistan. He, too, was rejected by Republicans on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee who objected to his anti-interventionist views and desire to pull U.S. forces out of the region.

Update Nov. 7 5:12 p.m.: This post was updated to reflect further information.

Published under: Trump Administration