The heads of Trump administration officials attached to parachutes.
Where are they now? Animation by Slate. Photos by Mike McGregor/Getty Images for Cantor Fitzgerald, Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images, Megan Varner/Getty Images, and Getty Images Plus.
Politics

Ivanka. Sean Spicer. Betsy DeVos. Stephen Miller. Where Has Trumpworld Landed?

We tracked down 35 former members of the Trump administration to figure out what exactly they’re up to now—and where they’re still welcome.

This is part of Trump Slump, a series of stories checking in on how things are going now for the people and products that were riding high during the last administration.

As the 2020 presidential election approached, a number of politicians and pundits issued calls to deny Donald Trump’s enablers and collaborators a place in “polite society” once they left Washington. Bar them from corporate boardrooms and commencement daises! Nix their think tank fellowships! Keep them off the Sunday shows! Shred their book proposals!

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This was a pipe dream, in two ways. Of course some prominent American institutions would step up to launder the reputations of the child cagers, election meddlers, sedition stokers, and various other yes women and men of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. And also: Just as American culture has been hopelessly cleaved by one major political party’s escapade into an alternate reality, there is no monolithic “polite society” anymore. There are two. And one was waiting for Trump officials on the other end of Jan. 20—even after the bloody, insurrectionary afternoon of Jan. 6.

So we wondered: Where are they now? Which alums of this presidency have assimilated back into the rest of the political, academic, and financial classes? And which are banished to the (not necessarily less lucrative) company of the MAGA set forever?

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We surveyed some of the most prominent administration flunkies of Donald Trump, sticking to those who were formerly in the federal government’s employ. We looked at where they’ve landed and determined the degree to which they remain pariahs in one quarter or another—from a rating of zero (welcome everywhere from Sun Valley to SXSW) to 10 (banned from even the Mar-a-Lago veranda). Next time you’re at the Aspen Ideas Festival or the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner, keep this list handy.

Hobnobbing With the Global Elite

Ben Carson

Trumpworld role: Housing and urban development secretary (2017–21)

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What he’s up to: Carson launched the American Cornerstone Institute, a conservative think tank focusing on election integrity after leaving office. He also started a PAC.

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Pariah rating: 2. Carson kept a relatively low profile throughout his tenure. Despite a reputation for absentmindedness, he’s still managed to write op-eds in the Washington Post in recent months, indicating the resumption of his role as a mainstream-accepted “voice on the right.”

Recent sign of life:

Nikki Haley

Trumpworld role: Ambassador to the United Nations (2017–18)

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What she’s up to: Haley founded the conservative advocacy group Stand for America, which pushes policies related to border security, term limits, and anti-socialism.

Pariah rating: 1. Haley was able to sell herself as one of the more sensible and competent members of the Trump administration. Since resigning in 2018, she’s kept one foot in MAGA land and the other in centrist circles, flip-flopping between endorsing and gingerly distancing herself from the former president. That’s one of the reasons she’s expected to be a formidable candidate in the 2024 presidential primary—if her old boss doesn’t run.

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Recent sign of life:

John Kelly

Trumpworld role: Secretary of homeland security (2017), White House chief of staff (2017–19)

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What he’s up to: Kelly now serves on the board of directors of Caliburn International Corp., a military contractor.

Pariah rating: 3. After leaving the White House, Kelly, the chief of staff who presided over Trump’s child separation policy, has tried to cast himself in public speeches as someone who stood up to Trump.

Recent sign of life: In January, two years after exiting the Trump White House, Kelly said he would support invoking the 25th Amendment of the Constitution to remove the president due to the events of the Capitol riot.

James Mattis

Trumpworld role: Defense secretary (2017–19)

What he’s up to: Mattis rejoined the board of the defense contractor General Dynamics Corp. after quitting the administration.

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Pariah rating: 0. “Mad Dog” Mattis wasn’t all that mad compared with the rest of the Trump administration. His presence was so muted that foreign policy experts questioned whether he should have spoken up more. Still, he worked to rein in some of Trump’s worst moves, like sending troops to the U.S.-Mexico border or drumming up tensions with Iran, and these days, Mattis is back to headlining tech conferences and getting scholarships named after him.

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Recent sign of life: He received the eighth Paik Sun-yup ROK-U.S. Alliance Award in early May from the South Korean defense ministry for help with the country’s diplomatic talks.

Don McGahn

Trumpworld role: White House counsel (2017–18)

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What he’s up to: McGahn rejoined the law firm Jones Day in 2019 to serve as its leader on government regulation.

Pariah rating: 1. Perhaps more than anyone else on this list, it did seem like McGahn tried to stymie Trump’s grossest abuses of power; he spent much of his time pushing the elevation of conservative, Federalist Society–approved judges into the judicial branch. In the end, McGahn was able to hop back onto his perch at a major law firm.

Recent sign of life: McGahn is still at the center of a lawsuit due to his refusal to testify about Trump’s conduct during Robert Mueller’s investigation into foreign meddling in the 2016 election. At the end of April, a federal court approved the Justice Department’s request to postpone arguments in the lawsuit.

Steven Mnuchin 

Trumpworld role: Treasury secretary (2017–21)

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What he’s up to: Mnuchin is reportedly starting an investment fund that will focus on sectors like financial technology and entertainment. The first funds are expected to come from sovereign wealth funds in the Persian Gulf.

Pariah rating: 1. Though he sometimes struck a cartoonishly plutocratic pose, Mnuchin’s pro-capital agnosticism helped steer the U.S. through the economic devastation of the pandemic. Stop by Davos anytime, Steve!

Recent sign of life:

Mick Mulvaney

Trumpworld role: Special U.S. envoy to Northern Ireland (2020–21), acting White House chief of staff (2019–20), Office of Management and Budget director (2017–19)

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What he’s up to: Mulvaney currently lists himself on LinkedIn as a partner at Exegis Capital, a hedge fund he co-founded in August 2020.

Pariah rating: 4. At least the long-serving Trump aide did immediately resign after Jan. 6.

Recent sign of life:

Ajit Pai

Trumpworld role: FCC chairman (2017–21)

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What he’s up to: Pai joined Searchlight Capital Partners, a private equity firm that has stakes in media and telecom companies, as a partner. The American Enterprise Institute is also bringing him on as a visiting fellow.

Pariah rating: 2. Early on, there was a good amount of very public dissension against Pai for his role in repealing net neutrality rules, but he remained relatively unscathed amid the later catastrophes of the Trump administration—at least enough to be welcomed back into the telecom intelligentsia.

Recent sign of life:

Reince Priebus

Trumpworld role: White House chief of staff (2017)

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What he’s up to: Priebus is now the president of the law firm Michael Best & Friedrich LLP.

Pariah rating: 4. Priebus was ousted from the White House early, scored a gig as a political analyst on CBS News, and reportedly fielded a number of lucrative job offers from D.C. law firms upon his departure.

Recent sign of life:

Wilbur Ross

Trumpworld role: Commerce secretary (2017–21)

What he’s up to: Ross has returned to the business world. He recently formed a special purpose acquisition company—a type of shell company that investors use solely to raise funding in an IPO and then acquire another company—in Palm Beach, Florida.

Pariah rating: 4. Ross’ greatest sin while serving in the Trump administration was gratuitous self-dealing. It doesn’t seem to have made him persona non grata on Wall Street.

Recent sign of life: “Just as there are many people who are Never Trumpers, there are also many people who are Always Trumpers,” Ross told Bloomberg in February.

Anthony Scaramucci

Trumpworld role: White House director of communications (2017)

What he’s up to: Following his 11-day tenure with Trump, he returned to serving as the managing partner of SkyBridge, an investment firm that he founded in 2005.

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Pariah rating: 2. What was nice about Scaramucci’s implosion—due to a profanity-laced call the New Yorker published in full—was that, unlike many other Trump administration spectacles, his didn’t really have any major ramifications for democracy or the population at large. He was a buffoon, but not a monster. After his firing, Scaramucci slid in easily with the anti-Trump crowd and cryptocurrency enthusiasts.

Recent sign of life:

Running for—or Serving in—Office

Ronny Jackson

Trumpworld role: Physician to the president (2013–19)

What he’s up to: Jackson is now serving as the U.S. representative for Texas’s 13th Congressional District.

Pariah rating: 3. His abortive attempt to become the veteran affairs secretary in 2018 revealed that he was something of a loose cannon. During his time as White House physician, which encompassed both the Trump and Obama administrations, he allegedly provided a large supply of Percocet to someone in the White House Military Office, was abusive toward staff, wrecked a government car while driving intoxicated, and drunkenly banged on the hotel door of a female employee during an official trip. Though Jackson denied the allegations, the hubbub, along with concerns that he didn’t have the experience to run the department, was enough to sink his nomination. But he went on to win his congressional race in November with 79.4 percent of the vote—apparently the voters of northern Texas don’t seem to be too bothered by the whole scandal.

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Recent sign of life:

Sarah Huckabee Sanders

Trumpworld role: White House press secretary (2017–19)

What she’s up to: Sanders is running for governor of Arkansas.

Pariah rating: 5. Her antics and sheer number of lies may have gotten her kicked out of a Virginia restaurant, but she seems welcome in her home state. Although there haven’t really been publicly available polls yet, Sanders’ rival for the governorship dropped out in February, signaling to pollsters that she has strong support. And she’s been able to raise an astonishing $5 million in just three months.

Recent sign of life:

Ryan Zinke

Trumpworld role: Interior secretary (2017–19)

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What he’s up to: Zinke joined the investment firm Artillery One as a managing director in 2019, and he’s on the board of directors of U.S. Gold Corp, a gold mining company.

Pariah rating: 3. The horse may have been fun, but nothing else was.

Recent sign of life: Zinke filed a statement of candidacy for a House seat in Montana, his home state, on April 29.

Writing a Book

William Barr

Trumpworld role: Attorney general (2019–20)

What he’s up to: Barr reportedly sold a memoir about serving in the Trump administration. He’s been writing for the past two months.

Pariah rating: 4. While a number of Trump administration alumni have reportedly had trouble selling books, publishers told Politico that they are more likely to work with former officials who “got off the train before it crashed.” Although Barr stayed on until the very last months of the administration and presided over some of its most antidemocratic misdeeds, he did refuse to participate in Trump’s attempts to overturn the election and resigned before the Capitol riot. Apparently that’s enough!

Recent sign of life:

Kellyanne Conway

Trumpworld role: White House senior adviser (2017–20)

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What she’s up to: Conway reportedly signed a multimillion-dollar deal to write a tell-all memoir about her time in the Trump administration. She also joined the campaign of Ohio Senate candidate Bernie Moreno as a senior adviser.

Pariah rating: 5. Conway’s family drama raised eyebrows, particularly during the last stretch of the Trump administration, and occasionally appears to be ongoing—but let’s all agree we can tune that out.

Recent sign of life:

Jared Kushner

Trumpworld role: White House senior adviser (2017–21)

What he’s up to: From his new outpost in South Florida, Kushner is writing a book about his tenure in the administration, with an emphasis on his role in brokering deals in the Middle East—the area of focus for the new “Abraham Accord Institute for Peace” he is also reportedly founding.

Pariah rating: 6. A Maryland judge just found that a Baltimore-area apartment company co-owned by Kushner and operated by his family’s real estate firm “repeatedly violated state consumer protection laws by collecting debts without required licenses, charging tenants improper fees and misrepresenting the condition of rental units.” Kushner and his family, meanwhile, purchased a $30 million plot of land from singer Julio Iglesias on an exclusive island known as “Billionaire’s Bunker.”

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Recent sign of life: In a March op-ed in the Wall Street Journal that Kushner wrote, he beseeched the Biden administration to “continue to play the strong hand it was dealt”—by him, he meant.

Mike Pence

Trumpworld role: Vice president (2017–21)

What he’s up to: Pence joined the Young America’s Foundation youth group, where he’ll go on a campus lecture circuit and host a podcast. The Heritage Foundation has also brought him on as a distinguished visiting fellow. And he’s reportedly planning to launch a fundraising committee focused on conservative policies. He recently signed a two-book deal for his memoirs, for which he will receive an advance of between $3 million and $4 million.

Pariah rating: 4. While Pence was a loyal Trump deputy who oversaw the administration’s troubled COVID response, he’s still welcome in mainstream institutions like Simon & Schuster. His image may have even been buffed by Trump siccing a mob on him on Jan. 6.—employee blowback at Pence’s publisher has thus far failed to sink his book deal.

Recent sign of life:

Gordon Sondland

Trumpworld role: Ambassador to the European Union (2018–20)

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What he’s up to: After being fired by Trump in 2020, Sondland returned to Oregon to run his hotel chain, Provenance Hotels (though he put a 1.6-acre property near the Portland Convention Center on the market in May, as the hotel and real estate business cratered due to the pandemic). He is also reportedly writing a book about his time in the Trump administration.

Pariah rating: 5. Even though he testified against Trump during the first impeachment trial (after helping Trump’s scheme to undermine Biden, which he said he was ordered to do), Sondland later faced accusations from work associates who said he had sexually harassed them.

Recent sign of life: Sondland wrote a letter to the editor to the New York Times in March defending his time as an ambassador. He was also a guest at actress Joan Collins’ Oscar party.

Working for Fox News

Larry Kudlow

Trumpworld role: Director of the National Economic Council (2018–21)

What he’s up to: Kudlow is hosting a new program called Kudlow on the Fox Business Network. He’s also set to serve on the board of directors of Wilbur Ross’ SPAC.

Pariah rating: 2. Although he was one of the most prominent spin masters for the White House’s bumbling COVID response, Kudlow’s reputation isn’t much changed on this side of the Trump administration. The business-oriented Trump officials seem to have gotten a pass in the public eye.

Recent sign of life:

Kayleigh McEnany

Trumpworld role: White House press secretary (2020–21)

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What she’s up to: McEnany joined Fox News as an on-air commentator.

Pariah rating: 5. After Trump lost in the 2020 election, McEnany entered into negotiations with Fox News about becoming a contributor. Those talks reportedly paused shortly after the Capitol riot in January—Fox News even made a point of clarifying that she wasn’t working for the outlet at the time—but McEnany eventually did end up scoring a co-hosting gig for Fox’s show Outnumbered in March. Still, don’t expect to see McEnany appear anywhere outside right-wing safe spaces.

Recent sign of life:

Mike Pompeo

Trumpworld role: CIA director (2017–18), secretary of state (2018–21)

What he’s up to: Pompeo joined the conservative think tank Hudson Institute as a distinguished fellow. He also joined Fox News as a contributor. 

Pariah rating: 6. Pompeo is thought to be considering a run for president—again, assuming Trump doesn’t run. And yet a State Department inspector general report recently concluded that, while he was the nation’s top diplomat, Pompeo and his wife tasked government employees with such personal tasks as walking their dog, making dinner and salon appointments, and preparing Christmas cards. He’s also spent lots of time getting dunked on Twitter for tweeting things like …

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Recent sign of life:

In Limbo

Elaine Chao

Trumpworld role: Transportation secretary (2017–21)

What she’s up to: In December, Trump appointed her to the board of trustees of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, a position she’ll keep after the administration.

Pariah rating: 5. As prestigious as the Kennedy Center might be, it’s not a full-time job. Chao has reportedly been trying to reenter the private sector, though headhunters are said to be having a difficult time finding corporations that will hire her. The inspector general report that found she made repeated ethical lapses at the Department of Transportation by promoting her family’s shipping business can’t be helping.

Recent sign of life: Chao told Bloomberg Government at the end of April that she had made it her “personal mission” to “improve diversity and increase inclusion” at DOT.

Hope Hicks

Trumpworld role: White House communications director (2017–18), counselor to the president (2020–21)

What she’s up to: Will she go back to work for Fox Corp., the parent company of Fox News, where she spent her year between White House stints? It’s still unclear.

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Pariah rating: 4. Somehow she even managed to weather probably giving the president the coronavirus.

Recent sign of life: Nothing! As always, Hicks is a mystery.

Ivanka Trump

Trumpworld role: White House senior adviser and first daughter (2017–21)

What she’s up to: Ivanka will reportedly serve, along with her husband, Jared Kushner, as an informal adviser to the America First Policy Institute, a nonprofit group featuring Trump administration alumni that will work to preserve the former president’s policies. Rumors that she might try to mount a primary challenge to Florida Sen. Marco Rubio were put to rest when her father endorsed the incumbent senator in April.

Pariah rating: 5. According to People magazine, Ivanka’s mostly been spending time with her kids and has only been seen at one public event after relocating to Florida in January. It doesn’t seem like she has any immediate plans to return to public life or reintegrate herself into her old fashion or business circles. It’s tough to predict how welcome—or unwelcome—she’ll be once she’s ready to reemerge.

Recent sign of life:

Fully Ensconced in MAGA World

Betsy DeVos

Trumpworld role: Secretary of education (2017–21)

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What she’s up to: Devos’ school privatization group, American Federation for Children, put more than $200,000 into Wisconsin state superintendent candidate Deborah Kerr, a “school choice” advocate, even though she ultimately lost to Jill Underly, who received support from teachers unions and Democratic lawmakers.

Pariah rating: 4. Devos’ blundering confirmation hearing set the tone for her tenure, which was marked by promoting charter and religious schools to the detriment of public schools, weakening protections for gay and trans students, and shirking potential gun control measures on campuses. But her estimated $2 billion fortune means that she’ll never be an outcast, really.

Recent sign of life: Devos was reportedly calling Nebraska state senators in April to lobby for a bill that would provide tax credits for private school scholarship donations.

Mark Meadows

Trumpworld role: White House chief of staff (2020–21)

What he’s up to: Meadows joined the Conservative Partnership Institute as a senior partner and is working to build infrastructure for dark money supporting Trump-aligned Republicans.

Pariah rating: 7. The job market has reportedly been bleak for Meadows, who ran 45’s White House for its disastrous final stretch. Politico reported in January that Meadows was considering a job with the Trump Organization because the rest of the corporate world, usually a reliable landing pad for former top presidential aides, wouldn’t have him.

Recent sign of life:

Stephen Miller

Trumpworld role: White House senior policy adviser (2017–21)

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What he’s up to: Miller is working to form a group that takes the tactical model of the ACLU and applies it to right-wing pet projects: America First Legal will deploy lawyers to file suits against the Biden administration and for other conservative causes. The architect of Trump’s brutal immigration policies, he has also been advising members of Congress on how to oppose Biden’s immigration reform legislation.

Pariah rating: 8. While Miller may want to continue avoiding restaurants in coastal liberal metropolises, he’s hardly an outcast on the right. As a Fox News guest, he’s criticized the Biden administration’s immigration enforcement for—seriously—being “cruel” and “inhumane.”

Recent sign of life:

Kirstjen Nielsen

Trumpworld role: Secretary of homeland security (2017–19)

What she’s up to: Nielsen is now the president of Lighthouse Strategies, a consulting firm she founded in 2019 that advises technology companies on security threats.

Pariah rating: 7. Nielsen’s legacy will forever be tied to the Trump administration’s ruinous and inhumane family separation policy. When she resigned in 2019, academics and media figures said they would not associate with any think tank or university that hired her. But she’s embarked on something of a redemption tour since, falsely claiming that there was no policy to take children away from their parents and telling the press that she was actually trying to stop Trump from going further.

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Recent sign of life: Recently sold her townhome in Alexandria, Virginia.

Scott Pruitt

Trumpworld role: Environmental Protection Agency administrator (2017–18)

What he’s up to: He was last reported to be working as an Indiana coal lobbyist for the energy company RailPoint Solutions LLC.

Pariah rating: 6. From his personal financial scandals to his professional ones, Pruitt’s time in the Trump administration did him no favors.

Recent sign of life: Pruitt appeared at a ceremony in January to unveil his portrait, which will hang at EPA headquarters along with those of other former administrators. During a speech, Pruitt revealed that Trump asked him whether the EPA should be shut down entirely.

Dan Scavino

Trumpworld role: White House director of social media (2017–21)

What he’s up to: Scavino is helping Trump out with postelection schemes like forming a new super PAC and handling social media. He reportedly has a private office right outside Trump’s own office at Mar-a-Lago. Scavino is also being floated to oversee a possible Trump presidential library in Florida.

Pariah rating: 7. Scavino isn’t a big name outside the MAGA-sphere, but he allegedly had a big hand in cultivating the former president’s Twitter persona, which even many pro-Trump voters found obnoxious.

Recent sign of life:

Sean Spicer

Trumpworld role: White House press secretary (2017)

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What he’s up to: Spicer now hosts a Newsmax political talk show called Spicer & Co. 

Pariah rating: 7. For a short time post-resignation, it seemed that Spicer was trying to lean into the “fool who’s in on the joke” part. But his stint on Dancing With the Stars doesn’t seem to have won him any fans outside MAGA world.

Recent sign of life:

Chad Wolf

Trumpworld role: Acting secretary of homeland security (2019–21)

What he’s up to: Wolf joined the conservative Heritage Foundation as a fellow focusing on “projects related to national security, China and cyber policy.” He is also forming a consulting firm called Wolf Global Advisors, focused on homeland and national security.

Pariah rating: 7. Wolf, notorious for spearheading an ad hoc federal police force to crack down on protesters, seems to now be spending most of his time criticizing the Biden administration’s immigration and homeland security policies.

Recent sign of life:

As Close to Banned As You Can Get in 2021

Stephen Bannon

Trumpworld role: White House chief strategist (2017)

What he’s up to: Bannon currently hosts the War Room politics podcast.

Pariah rating: 9. Last year, Bannon was kicked off of Twitter for suggesting that Anthony Fauci be decapitated and have his head placed on a pike outside the White House. He was then kicked off of YouTube shortly after the Capitol riot for allowing Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani to make false election fraud claims on his show. Forget about corporate jobs or polite society—this guy can’t even post on social media.

Recent sign of life: Bannon recently had New York Rep. Elise Stefanik, Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley, and Rudy Giuliani on his podcast.

Sebastian Gorka

Trumpworld role: White House deputy assistant (2017)

What he’s up to: He is hosting the Gorka Reality Check talk show on Newsmax.

Pariah rating: 9. YouTube removed Gorka’s channel for thrice violating the platform’s presidential election integrity policy within a 90-day period. Fox even reportedly imposed a soft ban on Gorka because he was a “clown” and lacked objectivity. Newsmax was willing to take him, though.

Recent sign of life: