Trump adviser expected to leave White House, join Juul

Longtime White House aide Johnny DeStefano will leave his post by the end of the week to pursue work in the private sector.

DeStefano confirmed his departure in a Tuesday afternoon tweet after the move was reported by multiple news outlets.

{mosads}“Beyond grateful to @realDonaldTrump and @FLOTUS for the opportunity to serve in the best job I’ve ever had. Will very much miss my fantastic colleagues, from WH staff to those in uniform. Was the honor of a lifetime,” he wrote.

DeStefano, 40, was one of a handful of advisers left from the beginning of Donald Trump’s presidency and was seen as an emissary to Capitol Hill Republicans as well as a key figure in crafting the White House’s strategy during the 2018 midterm elections.

He is expected to take on advisory work for the e-cigarette maker Juul, according to The Washington Post, which first reported his departure, and CNN, in addition to helping Trump’s reelection campaign.

Trump praised DeStefano’s White House career in a tweet, saying: “Johnny, we will miss you – you did a great job!”

Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale tweeted that DeStefano “has been instrumental in many of our successes” and added he looks forward “to working with him on the outside as we get prepared to win again in 2020 and keep Making America Great Again!”

In 2017, DeStefano ran the White House personnel office and was tasked with staffing key jobs amid the chaos of the early days of the Trump administration.

He was viewed suspiciously by some of Trump’s hardcore supporters due to his ties to the GOP establishment, having served as an adviser to former Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio). But DeStefano managed to survive in part by keeping a low profile and maintaining good relations with other top White House officials.

DeStefano was viewed as providing important advice on how to navigate Congress and was valued for his relationships with top Republicans. But he also received some criticism for the White House’s political strategy in 2018 midterms, when the GOP lost control of the House. But others in the party laid the blame at Trump’s feet instead of the political office.  

He was also named in critical stories about the White House’s personnel office that described an operation plagued by cronyism and inexperience.

Juul has sought to expand its lobbying presence as it and other e-cigarette companies have come under scrutiny from federal regulators. Josh Raffel, a former spokesman for Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump, took a job at the company last year after leaving the White House.

This year, Juul hired lobbying firms Covington & Burling, Empire Consulting Group, InSight Public Affairs, Kountoupes Denham Carr & Reid and the S-3 Group, among others. 
Other D.C. insiders at the company include policy executive Tevi Troy, former deputy secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services under President George W. Bush, and former Massachusetts attorney general Martha Coakley, who is on the government affairs team.
The chief legal officer is Jerry Masoudi, former Food and Drug Administration chief counsel under Bush, and lobbyist Jim Esquea, who was former assistant HHS secretary under President Obama.

Alex Gangitano contributed to this report, which was updated at 5:59 p.m.