“Zachary D. Fuentes is a Deputy Chief of Staff in the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump. He formerly served as an assistant to John F. Kelly, both in his capacity as White House Chief of Staff and in his capacity as Secretary of Homeland Security.”
John Kelly’s deputy tried to game a six-month desk job that would allow him to stay longer in the employ of the WH and hence qualify for early retirement. That plan may get quashed now that the NY Times has reported on it, but the real story has also emerged that Zachary Fuentes was responsible for the botched visit to a cemetery outside Paris during Trump’s November trip to Paris.
Trump claimed that rainy weather grounded his helicopter even as John Kelly and most other prominent politicians made the trip via motorcade. Trump chose not to go.
Until now, no specific aide has been identified as making the decision to cancel the appearance. The resulting media coverage tended to show Trump in a negative light, continuing the meme of Trump’s preoccupation with precipitation affecting his appearance.
This is another Maggie Haberman story that has that element of Trumpian intrigue because this disclosure surely isn’t a vindictive act by Trump or his minions. This story might get lost among all the other, more grandiose exits in process, but it is of a piece that leaving the WH can have consequences.
Attention has focused on Mr. Fuentes since Mr. Trump came under sharp criticism for canceling his appearance at an American military cemetery near Paris to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I, a move that was ostensibly made because of rainy weather.
Public accounts at the time said Mr. Fuentes had merely delivered the news to Mr. Trump that officials said the weather made it too difficult to fly the presidential helicopter, Marine One, the 50 miles from Paris to the cemetery.
But two people with direct knowledge of the events said that Mr. Fuentes had decided on his own, well before the military aide on duty made a determination, to tell the president that the weather was too poor to travel by helicopter.
Mr. Trump could have traveled by motorcade, but those familiar with the discussions said that Mr. Fuentes told the president that it would not be a problem if Mr. Kelly went without Mr. Trump.
Mr. Trump was savaged in the news media for skipping the cemetery visit, a fact that he blamed on Mr. Kelly, even though other aides repeatedly told him that it had been Mr. Fuentes’s doing, according to the people with knowledge of what took place.
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