An announcement made Thursday by the White House indicated that Deputy Chief of Staff, Katie Walsh, resigned her position to join with an outside pro-Trump group, America First Policies. The decision was made after the Trump-backed health care bill failed to garner enough support to clear the House floor. The White House had pressure from several outside groups that opposed the bill with minimal pushback from several pro-Trump organizations to stem the tide of opposition. Chief of Staff Reince Priebus had this to say:
It was abundantly clear that we didn’t have air cover when it came to calls coming into lawmakers. No one can fix this problem better than Katie.
The White House was adamant that Walsh was the one to decide to leave her position. Steve Bannon and Jared Kushner released statements that they are supportive of Katie and the sacrifice she is making to leave her current position. Walsh has become a key player in the Trump administration’s circle and has become a trusted advisor to the President in recent weeks.
America First Policies, off to a rough start and plagued by organization challenges, has focused on raising money and assembling a leadership team in partnership with Brad Parscale, the Digital and Data Director for the White House. As recently as last week, one of the groups co-founders, Rick Gates, resigned amid reports about his firm’s connections with Russian clients.
The American Healthcare Act is dead in its current form and will need a serious overhaul in provisions before it can gain the support needed in the House to pass, let alone the Senate. Trump has made statements that indicate he is willing to work with Bernie Sanders and other Democratic groups to redesign the AHA into something more palatable to the House, Senate and the American people. Repealing the Affordable Care Act, by itself, has its own challenges and it’s unclear if America First Policies will have any involvement in either effort.
Despite the fact that the White House stressed this was Walsh’s decision, the timing of her resignation should raise a few questions as to the stability of Trump’s administration.