Trump Campaign Reshuffles Key Staff, Hiring Ex-NASA Official
(Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump’s campaign has named Jeff DeWit as its chief operating officer, replacing Michael Glassner, less than five months before the election and as polls show him lagging his Democratic challenger, Joe Biden.
The reshuffle, according to two people familiar with the matter, came as top donors were becoming more concerned over the management of the campaign and Trump’s falling poll numbers. The re-election operation has struggled to respond to crises, including the coronavirus pandemic, the economic damage it has wrought and the growing demands for racial justice.
The changes were orchestrated by Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and a White House adviser, according to another person. Kushner has played an influential role in the campaign though he is not officially part of it.
Kushner swapped COOs without telling key aides, including campaign manager Brad Parscale, beforehand about his decision, according to two people familiar with the situation.
DeWit was the chief financial officer at NASA from March 2018 until February, and the COO of Trump’s 2016 campaign for president. Glassner, who worked on that effort as well, has been chief operating officer since December 2016.
Trump recently held discussions with some top donors about the campaign over the weekend, including over dinner Saturday with Bernie Marcus, a billionaire co-founder of Home Depot Inc., and Steven Hantler, Marcus’s political strategist.
Some donors have suggested to Trump that Steve Bannon, his former chief strategist and an architect of his 2016 victory, should be brought back in a top role advising on the president’s re-election, according to two people familiar with the matter.
Bannon joined the administration as a top White House aide but was fired in August 2017, weeks after John Kelly took over as White House chief of staff.
Glassner will focus now on campaign legal matters, Tim Murtaugh, a campaign spokesman said in an email late Tuesday night.
Glassner’s role as COO had already been changing; responsibility for organizing the campaign rallies was transferred from Glassner to a team of staffers in February.
The shakeup, first reported by Axios, comes at a critical moment for the president’s campaign and his administration. Trump has been widely criticized for his responses to the pandemic, which has surged anew in several states; and to the widespread protests that began after the death in police custody of George Floyd, a Black man in Minneapolis.
Less than two weeks ago, the president drew a disappointing crowd to a rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, that had been presented as a revival of his election fortunes.
“This is not a reaction to Tulsa,” Murtaugh said. “Michael Glassner is moving into the long-term role of navigating the many legal courses we face, including suits against major media outlets, some of which will likely extend beyond the end of the campaign. He is one of the founding members of Team Trump and his dedication to the success of the president is unmatched.”
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