Top aide to Labor secretary to leave amid friction with White House

Top aide to Labor secretary to leave amid friction with White House
© Greg Nash

A top aide to Labor Secretary Alexander AcostaAlex Alexander AcostaThe Hill's Morning Report — Presented by National Association of Manufacturers — Whistleblower complaint roils Washington On The Money: Senate confirms Scalia as Labor chief | Bill with B in wall funding advanced over Democrats' objections | Lawyers reach deal to delay enforcement of NY tax return subpoena Sanders calls Eugene Scalia's Labor Dept. confirmation 'obscene' MORE will leave his post amid ongoing tension with White House officials frustrated at the pace of deregulation.

A Department of Labor spokesperson told The Hill that chief of staff Nick Geale would leave the department.

"I want to thank the dedicated and professional staff of the Department of Labor for helping to do so much good work for our nation," Geale said in a statement.

Axios first reported the news earlier Tuesday.

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Geale has been viewed by White House officials as standing in the way of the Trump administration’s agenda. 

"The pace of change has not been sufficient. [Acosta] tends to be fairly fearful of taking hardline positions. He tends to be solicitous of the unions, often making the argument that that's what the president wants,” said a source close to President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump says he doesn't want NYT in the White House Veterans group backs lawsuits to halt Trump's use of military funding for border wall Schiff punches back after GOP censure resolution fails MORE. "The only question in my mind is, is it Nick Geale that's the problem? Or is he just doing his boss's bidding? It's not clear to me that Nick is the only problem. You take your cues from the top."

Geale has reportedly told Acosta he will leave the department shortly. 

A Labor Department spokesperson defended the department’s record on deregulation to Axios.

"The U.S. Department of Labor had $3.28 billion in deregulatory savings in FY 2018 — the second most in the administration," the spokesperson said. "Even more actions like the current rules-making on overtime, joint employer and regular rate are in process. Nick Geale plays an important role in these efforts."

Acosta himself has recently been under fire amid questions from his time as a federal prosecutor about his role in securing a deal for financier and sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

Updated 5 p.m.