President Donald Trump refused to utter the F-word Friday but he confirmed that his once famously loyal personal assistant, Madeleine Westerhout, was ousted from the White House after sharing personal information about his family with reporters. “I think it was automatic,” Trump said. “I don’t say ‘fire’ or ‘not fire.’ I really think she had a bad night. I think it was unfortunate. She said she was drinking.”
Trump spoke to reporters Friday afternoon shortly after Politico published a story detailing that Westerhout had been fired after she told reporters at an off-the-record dinner that Trump didn’t like to be photographed next to his daughter Tiffany because she was overweight. She also said Trump couldn’t recognize Tiffany in a crowd and claimed she had a better relationship with Trump than his own children. Westerhout also reportedly talked about Trump’s eating habits and his youngest son, Barron.
Trump confirmed to reporters before departing for Camp David that Westerhout had “mentioned a couple of things about my children.” Trump chastised the press as “very dishonest,” noting that Westerhout’s words were “supposed to be off the record” although he recognized that was no excuse. “Still, you don’t say things like she said which were just a little bit hurtful to some people.” Trump also had some words of support for his daughter, Tiffany, denying what Westerhout had allegedly said. “It’s just absolutely false. She’s a wonderful person and she studies so hard. She’s a great student. She’s a great person,” Trump said.
“Tiffany is great. I love Tiffany.”
Trump also commented on Twitter, saying that while Westerhout has a “fully enforceable confidentiality agreement” he doesn’t foresee needing “to use it.” The president said she apologized and he “fully understood and forgave her!” before adding: “I love Tiffany, doing great!”
Westerhout, 28, was considered a veteran in a White House known for its constant staff changes. She was with Trump since the moment he started at the White House, outlasting three chiefs of staff and had one of the highest salaries among staffers, earning $145,000. Although she reportedly cried on election night because she was unhappy Trump won, Westerhout quickly raised up the ranks and became known as the person who most directly controlled access to the president. Trump told the Washington Post’s Bob Woodward last year that Westerhout was the person to contact to get direct access to him. “Madeleine is the key,” Trump said. “She’s the secret.”
Those present at the Aug. 17 dinner that took place with reporters who were covering Trump’s vacation at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey included the Washington Post’s Phil Rucker, Bloomberg’s Jennifer Jacobs, Reuters’ Steve Holland and the Wall Street Journal’s Andrew Restuccia, according to Politico. Arthur Schwartz, a close confident of Donald Trump Jr., publicly accused Rucker on Twitter of being the leaker. Rucker declined to comment but the Post came to his defense. “Philip Rucker is one of the best and most scrupulous reporters in the news business,” Steven Ginsberg, national editor at the Washington Post, said in an emailed statement. “He has always acted with the utmost honor and integrity and has never violated Washington Post standards or policies.”