Politics

White House will hire two high-profile aides to run impeachment messaging

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Key Points
  • The White House is expected to add two longtime Trump allies to its staff to handle impeachment communications.
  • Former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and former Treasury Department spokesman Tony Salegh are expected to join the communications team.
  • The hires represent a new, more offensive posture from the White House, which has struggled so far to devise a cohesive response to the House impeachment inquiry.
President Donald Trump delivers remarks at a Keep America Great Rally at the Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky, November 4, 2019.
Yuri Gripas | Reuters

As the House impeachment inquiry enters a new, public phase, the White House communications office is expected to add two longtime Trump allies to its staff, where they will be tasked with running a proactive impeachment messaging operation, CNBC confirmed Tuesday.

Former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, a longtime Trump supporter, and Tony Sayegh, a former Treasury Department spokesman, are both expected to join the White House shortly to work specifically on impeachment related communications, in addition to other special projects as necessary, a senior administration official told CNBC. Bondi and Sayegh's jobs would be temporary,.

Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney is "very pleased" with the Bondi and Sayegh hires, a senior administration official told CNBC. Mulvaney believes they will "help round things out" as good communicators with strong political skills.

The hiring of Bondi and Sayegh, both high-profile political veterans, represents a new, more offensive posture from the White House, which has struggled to devise a cohesive strategy in response to the growing House impeachment inquiry.

Trump has so far been resistant to the idea of a special team of staffers who would focus solely on the impeachment, reportedly because he was concerned such an approach was passe in the age of Twitter and social media.

"Here's the thing: I don't have teams," Trump told reporters at the White House recently. "Everyone is talking about teams. I'm the team. I did nothing wrong."

The choices of Bondi and Sayegh come as little surprise to those in Trump's inner circle. Bondi's term as attorney general in Florida ended earlier this year, and in the ensuing months, her name has come up repeatedly as a potential Trump hire, either at the Justice Department or the White House.

Bondi made headlines during Trump's presidential campaign for accepting a $25,000 contribution to her political action committee from the Donald J. Trump Foundation, an apparent violation of rules prohibiting donations from nonprofits to PACs.

The money was donated in 2013, when the Florida Attorney General's office was considering whether to join a lawsuit against Trump's now-defunct Trump University. The donation came a few days after Bondi announced that Florida might join the suit. Bondi ultimately decided the state would not take part in the lawsuit.

Sayegh is a well-known Republican communications guru, having worked on several high-profile races and most recently as the most visible frontman for the GOP's 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, Trump's massive tax reform package. Within the White House, Sayegh is considered an ally of Jared Kushner, Trump's son-in-law and senior advisor.

Politico recently reported that Sayegh's potential hiring had set off a turf war inside the West Wing, with some factions strongly backing the choice and others fearful it would give Kushner and his allies too much power over the impeachment communications strategy.

— CNBC's Eamon Javers contributed to this report.