White House Deputy Chief of Staff Katie Walsh is departing the West Wing to join the pro-Trump outside group America First Policies, according to senior Administration officials.
Walsh, a top aide of White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, served as one of the top gatekeepers for President Donald Trump, controlling the White House schedule. Her departure leaves a void in the West Wing, but White House officials believe her serving as a senior advisor to the outside group will fill a larger gap that became apparent during the failed effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.
Conservative outside groups ran millions in ads opposing the measure, and flooded Capitol Hill phone lines with calls against the Trump-backed measure, but there was no coordinated effort in support of the key plank of Trump’s agenda.
“It was abundantly clear we didn’t have air cover when it came to the calls coming into lawmakers and nobody can fix this problem like Katie Walsh,” Priebus told reporters at the White House.
Walsh’s departure was announced to a small group of reporters in the Priebus’ office, where he was joined by chief strategist Steve Bannon and senior advisor Jared Kushner. All three praised Walsh, and expressed regret that she was leaving. “Katie is, number one, not getting fired,” an official said in response to rumors floated on Twitter. They added she made the decision to leave.
After House Republicans were forced to pull the vote on the health care bill Friday, Walsh was tasked with exploring how she could take on a more political role inside the White House. Over the weekend, officials said, she determined she could best do the job at the 501(c)4 group and informed Priebus, Kushner and Bannon of her recommendation. They accepted it.
“Katie Walsh was instrumental in the victory in November,” Jared Kushner said. “There is no one better suited to fulfill this role than Katie.”
White House officials say…