White House staff restructure looming, sources say
WATCH Trump says Russia investigation 'makes country look very bad'
The White House is planning a staff restructuring in the coming weeks that includes a reorganization of President Donald Trump’s political operation based in the West Wing, sources confirm to ABC News.
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The changes, spearheaded by Chief of Staff John Kelly, come amid staff frustrations with management of the Office of Political Affairs and internal disputes over political strategy that have spilled into public view.
Just last week, during a meeting with the president to discuss the 2018 midterm elections, top White House political aides and outside advisers clashed in a heated argument, sources with knowledge of the meeting confirmed to ABC News.
Former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and White House political director Bill Stepien, who both attended the session,were later seen in embroiled in an intense exchange about the midterm campaign outside the Oval Office, according to sources.
Stepien, who is responsible for outreach to key political constituencies and crafting White House political strategy, has been under increasing pressure after high-profile Republican losses in the Virginia gubernatorial election and Alabama Senate special election — both races that saw the direct involvement of President Trump.
“Obviously the political shop has to bear a lot of blame of miscalculating this race,” one White House official conceded earlier this month.
Alabama Republican senate candidate Roy Moore's loss "shows that there's no political mastermind in the White House" any longer, one source said, alluding to the departure of former Trump strategist Steve Bannon who left his post in August.
Administration sources tell ABC News that John DeStefano, who currently heads the Office of Presidential Personnel, is expected to be elevated to a deputy chief of staff position, broadening his portfolio to oversee the administration's political operation.
DeStefano is expected to oversee four key offices once the restructuring is complete, a White House official confirmed: He will head the Office of Presidential Personnel, the Office of Public Liaison, the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs and the Office of Political Affairs.
Part of DeStefano’s broadening portfolio is a result of the departure of Deputy Chief of Staff Rick Dearborn, who will step down early next year, White House officials say.
"He's a super guy and it breaks my heart to see him leave, but I look forward to his continued personal friendship and support for the president’s agenda,” Chief of Staff John Kelly said of Dearborn in a statement.
Jim Carroll, who serves as senior counsel to the president, is also expected to assume a more senior role, according to multiple administration officials.
While the staffing changes are expected in January, one administration official cautioned that they were not yet final and are still "in flux."
The latest reshuffle caps a tumultuous year in the Trump West Wing.
The administration has so far seen 16 resignations and seven firings of senior staff, with more departures likely in the new year, sources tell ABC News.
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