The White House’s director of ‘rapid response’ left his job on Monday in what the White House says was a ‘mutual decision’ – leaving it an open question whether he quit or was fired.
Andy Hemming, 31, had been tasked with scouring the Internet, television and radio for stories that reflected well on the Trump administration.
About 1,000 reporters, congressional aides and other ‘influencers’ got in-case-you-missed-it emails from Hemming on a regular basis – once the White House figured out how to stop inadvertently blocking them.
‘For weeks,’ Politico reported this month, ‘no one informed him that the White House IT system could not handle an email going out to such a big list, and all of his emails were being blocked by a firewall and reaching an audience of zero readers.’
Andy Hemming, 31, has left a White House job that saddled him with the unenviable task of scouring for, and amplifying, positive news about President Donald Trump
The president has been beset from the beginning of his term with avalanche after avalanche of negative news coverage, making Hemming’s job a constant uphill climb
Eventually, his missives began hitting their targets. According to another White House aide, former press secretary Sean Spicer believed Hemming’s vigilance had a chance of slowly changing near-universally bad media coverage into something less awful.
But the promise of driving more positive news coverage never materialized, and Hemming departed the White House and his $89,000 salary on Monday.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told Politico that it was a ‘[m]utual decision that he could best help promote the president’s agenda on the outside. Andy is smart and very talented and we wish him all the best.’
If Hemming lands a job with a pro-Trump super PAC or another ‘outside’ group, he wouldn’t be the first to take that route.
Former White House deputy chief of staff Katie Walsh left the West Wing at the end of March after just a few months on the job to run America First Policies, a political nonprofit that aims to provide ‘air cover’ for Trump’s policies.
Hemming was previously director of research at the Republcian National Committee for the 2016 election cycle, where his job neatly mirrored the one he later took at the White House.
The RNC didn’t disband his operation, however, continuing with its own ‘War Room’ email blasts and sometimes making Hemming’s White House work redundant.
It’s unclear if his leaving is tied to a top-to-bottom staff review being conducted by new chief of staff John Kelly, who took over from former RNC chairman Reince Priebus four weeks ago.
But Hemming followed a steady trail of White House communications staffers into the West Wing’s departure lounge.
The White House’s communications operation has been an unstable place to work since the beginning, already chewing up and spitting out two communications directors (Mike Dubke, top left, and Anthony Scaramucci, top right), and a press secretary (Sean Spicer, bottom)
They include former communications directors Anthony Scaramucci and Mike Dubke – along with Jason Miller, who accepted the job during the Trump transition but later withdrew in the midst of a sex scandal.
Press secretary Sean Spicer quit when Scaramucci was hired, and his deputy Michael Short was ousted shortly thereafter.
The bigger picture in the White House is one of short tenures for people in jobs that were long-term commitments in previous administrations.
Former chief strategist Steve Bannon left this month after seven months on the job, slightly longer than chief of staff Priebus lasted.
Office of Government Ethics director Walter Shaub quit six months into the Trump administration after serving under President Barack Obama since 2013. He took a position withthe left-leaning Campaign Legal Center.
Trump fired his FBI director James Comey in May, and both National Security Advisor Mike Flynn and Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates in February.