Madeleine Westerhout, who left her White House job suddenly on Thursday as President Trump’s personal assistant, was fired after bragging to reporters that she had a better relationship with Trump than his own daughters, Ivanka and Tiffany Trump, and that the president did not like being in pictures with Tiffany because he perceived her as overweight.
Given Westerhout’s sensitive role as a confidante to the president, the few details the White House shared about her abrupt firing had Washington’s political-media class in a quiet frenzy on Thursday night and Friday.
The critical comments happened at an off-the-record dinner, according to two people familiar with the matter, that Westerhout and deputy White House press secretary Hogan Gidley held earlier this month with reporters who were covering Trump’s vacation at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey.
Westerhout also jokingly told the journalists that Trump couldn’t pick Tiffany out of a crowd, said one of the people. “She had a couple drinks and in an uncharacteristically unguarded moment, she opened up to the reporters,” the person said.
At some point, Gidley left the restaurant for a television interview on Fox News. During that time — around 45 minutes to an hour — Westerhout made the comments to the reporters.
After the Aug. 17 dinner, which took place at the restaurant inside the nearby Embassy Suites hotel and included the Washington Post’s Phil Rucker, Bloomberg’s Jennifer Jacobs, Reuters’ Steve Holland and the Wall Street Journal’s Andrew Restuccia, Westerhout rode back to a different hotel, the Marriott, with Rucker and Holland.
White House staffers having off-the-record dinners or drinks with reporters has long been a commonplace practice when a president is traveling.
“This was an off-the-record dinner and the media blatantly violated that agreement,” an administration official said.