Kelly Sadler, the White House communications aide who made a imprudent comment about Republican Sen. John McCain’s health, was quietly let go Tuesday nearly a month after making the insensitive remark, three people familiar with the matter said.
The White House had been strategizing an exit for Sadler for the last two weeks, a senior administration official said. There had been a discussion about relocating her to another agency or department outside of the White House, and it remains unclear if she is going somewhere else or leaving the administration entirely.
In the aftermath of the comment — in which Sadler told a meeting that McCain’s opposition to CIA director nominee Gina Haspel didn’t matter because he’s “dying” — the White House refused to condemn her remark, and she did not apologize publicly. She remained on the staff for nearly a month before departing.
Privately, Sadler did apologize to McCain’s daughter Meghan in a phone call. But afterward, Ms. McCain publicly questioned why Sadler still had a job at the White House.
Sadler’s comment spurred an intensive effort inside the West Wing to seek out leakers. White House officials bemoaned an environment where presidential aides could not speak their minds in meetings without fearing their remarks could appear later in the press.
Senior aides have stopped short of ordering blanket firings, however. And it’s not clear what other steps are planned to curtail the leaks.
The effort to find leakers has led to an acrimonious atmosphere at the White House, aides have told CNN. Sadler angered one of her remaining allies in the West Wing, communications staffer Mercedes Schlapp, when she told Trump in the Oval Office that she believed Schlapp was responsible for some of the leaks — as Schlapp was looking on.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Sadler was a special assistant to the President, responsible for compiling and distributing talking points to administration allies.
She last sent an email on Tuesday morning touting the administration’s accomplishments over Trump’s first 500 days in office.