A background investigation found that John McEntee bet tens of thousands of dollars at a time, making him unsuitable for a sensitive position close to the president.
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s personal assistant, John McEntee, lost his White House job this week because an investigation found he was a frequent gambler whose habit posed a security risk, according to two people familiar with his departure.
A background investigation found that McEntee bet tens of thousands of dollars at a time, making him unsuitable for a sensitive position close to the president, according to a person with knowledge of the situation. There was no indication his gambling was illegal, but there was concern that McEntee, 27, could be vulnerable to outside influence, the person said.
McEntee declined to comment.
McEntee, who had been one of the first people to join the Trump campaign and served as the president’s “body man” after Trump’s election, was escorted off the White House grounds Monday after being notified that he was being let go. McEntee was “very upset” to learn he was being fired, according to one person, and complained he had done nothing improper.
Most Read Nation & World Stories
- Trump tests presidential power, declares emergency at border WATCH
- Unclaimed $1.5B prize: South Carolina could be big loser too
- High-tech degrees and the price of an avocado: The data New York gave to Amazon
- Year in space put US astronaut's disease defenses on alert
- Hungry bear goes for ride after getting stuck on trash truck
On Tuesday, Trump’s re-election committee announced that McEntee would join the campaign as a senior adviser for operations.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders this week declined to offer an explanation for his departure, saying, “We don’t comment on personnel issues.”
McEntee was a starting quarterback at the University of Connecticut and then worked as a production assistant at Fox News. He joined the Trump campaign as a volunteer in July 2015 after writing to the campaign’s website asking for a job. When no one responded, he offered to take a position responding to website email, according to Trump advisers. He eventually was hired as trip director, overseeing preparations for campaign events. “I bought into the message,” McEntee told Bloomberg News in 2015 of his decision to join Trump. “I was sick of the career politicians.”
After Trump’s victory, McEntee was named as the president’s special assistant and personal aide. When he joined the White House, he reported in his personal financial disclosure two primary assets: a bank account containing $100,000 to $250,000 and another containing $15,000 to $50,000.
McEntee’s cousin, Zac McEntee, serves as personal assistant to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
John McEntee’s firing came as White House Chief of Staff John Kelly has sought to speed up the background investigations of staffers still awaiting security clearances.