Key White House staff member quits amid probes

WASHINGTON • Mr Michael Dubke, the White House communications director, has announced he is resigning, as United States President Donald Trump weighs a broader shake-up of his staff in the face of multiple investigations.

Mr Dubke, 47, a veteran Republican strategist who served three months in the role, said that he offered his resignation on May 18 and agreed to stay on until Mr Trump completed his first overseas trip, which ended over the weekend.

Other staff changes could come by the end of the week, White House officials said.

"The reasons for my departure are personal, but it has been my great honour to serve President Trump and this administration," Mr Dubke said in a message to friends.

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Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway has denied claims that Mr Dubke's departure was part of a broader overhaul in the West Wing.

The President's inner circle has been preparing a series of shifts intended to deal with growing inquiries into any contact between Mr Trump and Russia during last year's presidential campaign and the transition before the inauguration.

Among those who have been caught up in the probes is Mr Jared Kushner, the President's son-in-law and senior adviser, who reportedly explored the possibility of setting up a secret communication channel to Moscow.

Mr Dubke has worked closely with White House press secretary Sean Spicer, serving as a behind-the-scenes player helping manage communications strategy, responses to crises such as the firing of Mr James Comey as the Federal Bureau of Investigation director, as well as roll-out plans for policy and other initiatives.

The communications operation - and Mr Dubke and Mr Spicer specifically - have come under sharp criticism from Mr Trump and many senior officials in the West Wing, who believe the President has been poorly served by his staff.

NYTIMES, WASHINGTON POST, BLOOMBERG

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 31, 2017, with the headline 'Key White House staff member quits amid probes'. Print Edition | Subscribe