WASHINGTON (AP) — A senior Trump administration official was fired following criticism in a private speech of President Donald Trump's policies and his inner circle of advisers.
Craig Deare, whom Trump appointed a month ago to head the National Security Council's Western Hemisphere division, was on Friday escorted out of the Executive Office Building, where he worked in Washington.
A senior White House official confirmed that Deare is no longer working at the NSC and has returned to the position he previously held at the National Defense University. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss an incident not otherwise made public, and provided no further details.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Sunday that Deare "was sent back to his original position." Asked if government employees should be concerned that they could be fired for criticizing the president, she said: "I don't think any person that is there in order to carry out the president's agenda should be against the president's agenda."
Current and former administration officials say Deare's termination was linked to remarks he made Thursday at a private talk at the Wilson Center, a Washington think tank. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter.
According to one person who attended the discussion, Deare slammed the Trump administration for its policies on Latin America, specifically its rocky start to relations with Mexico. That person spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss a private event.
Trump signed an order in the first week of his presidency to build a border wall with Mexico, jumpstarting a campaign promise. The move prompted Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto to cancel his trip to Washington in late January.
The person who attended the Wilson Center discussion also said that Deare openly expressed frustration over being cut out of most of the policy discussions about Mexico, saying that members of Trump's inner circle, including chief strategist Steve Bannon and Trump's son-in-law and adviser, Jared Kushner, have not consulted with NSC directorates as the White House formulates policy.
Deare has been on the faculty of National Defense University in Washington since 2001. He joined the university's College of International Security Affairs in 2010 and most recently served as dean of administration.
The person who attended the Wilson Center talk also noted that Deare made several remarks about how attractive Trump's daughter, Ivanka Trump, appeared, remarks that person described as "awkward."
Deare did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Officials with the Wilson Center also declined a request for information, saying the discussion was off the record.
Deare is the second senior NSC official to leave in under a week. On Monday, Trump's national security adviser, retired Gen. Michael Flynn, resigned after revelations that he discussed sanctions with a Russian diplomat before Trump was sworn in, then misled Vice President Mike Pence about the nature of those conversations.