FILE - In this March 22, 2018, file photo, White House Director of Legislative Affairs and Assistant Marc Short speaks in the Brady press briefing room at the White House in Washington. Short has told staff that he'll be leaving the position this summer. Two White House officials said Short disclosed his plans on June 15. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)

Top WH legislative aide Marc Short to exit this summer

June 15, 2018 - 5:58 pm

WASHINGTON (AP) — White House director of legislative affairs Marc Short has told staff that he'll be leaving the position this summer.

Two White House officials said Short disclosed his plans Friday. He did not offer an exact date, but said he would leave sometime this summer. The officials were not authorized to speak publicly and demanded anonymity.

Short has led President Donald Trump's legislative agenda, which has been a mixed success during his first 18 months in office. The biggest achievement with Congress was the passage of the tax cut bill in late 2017. But the administration has unsuccessfully pushed to overhaul President Barack Obama's health care law and has struggled to develop compromise legislation on immigration.

Trump has frequently undercut the work of his legislative affairs team, criticizing deals they have negotiated and trying to broker some of his own without their input.

On Friday, Trump sowed a fresh round of confusion over an eleventh-hour GOP plan to bring up immigration legislation ahead of the midterm elections. Trump told reporters he opposes a "moderate" proposal put forward by House Republicans to fund a wall along the Mexico border and a path to citizenship for some immigrants who arrived in the U.S. illegally as children.

Officials later said the president had been referring to an effort by Republican moderates to force a vote on a handful of immigration proposals — not the compromise bill that has been hammered out with White House input.

Trump was also critical of the GOP's deficit-raising budget bill, nearly threatening to veto it over its increased spending, putting his legislative staff in a bind on a measure they'd helped draft.

Short's exit will be the latest in a series of high-profile departures in the last several months, as the Trump White House continues to set records for staff turnover. Earlier this year, Trump bade farewell to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, national security adviser H.R. McMaster and top economic aide Gary Cohn, among others.

A number of communications staffers have also departed the White House in recent weeks, including Steven Cheung, who had served as director of strategic response; Kelly Sadler, who was roundly criticized for dismissive comments about ailing Sen. John McCain; and Cliff Simms, who left for the State Department.

As of last month, 18 of 31 assistants to the president have left their posts — along with six who came in as replacements — marking the highest level of turnover of top staff of any recent administration, according to an analysis by Martha Kumar, director of the nonpartisan White House Transition Project.

Trump on Friday pushed back on a report that White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders is also eying the exits, but acknowledged that "at a certain point everyone sort of leaves, you have to leave."

"I'm sort of just standing like a ship," he added. "Just keep going, 'Bing, bing,' but Sarah loves this job."

Short was named to the position before Trump took office in 2017. During the 2016 campaign, he served as communications director for Vice President Mike Pence. His past roles include serving as president of Freedom Partners, the billionaire Koch brothers' chamber of commerce-styled group.

Short did not immediately respond to requests for comment.


Associated Press writer Jill Colvin contributed to this report.

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