Trump's personal assistant Madeleine Westerhout abruptly resigns

By Arden Farhi

/ CBS News

President Trump's personal assistant and director of Oval Office operations Madeleine Westerhout abruptly resigned Thursday.

During the president's vacation at his club in Bedminster, New Jersey earlier this month, Westerhout attended an off-the-record dinner with reporters at the Grain and Cane restaurant in Berkeley Heights, New Jersey. Sources with knowledge of the dinner told CBS she had been drinking and disclosed private details about the president's family. She also gossiped about TV news personalities seeking access to the president.

In Trump world there are leaks you can get away with, and there are leaks you cannot get away with. Anything having to do with the family falls into the second category.

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Westerhout, 29, had worked for the Republican National Committee as an assistant to Chief of Staff Katie Walsh and the transition team before becoming a close aide to the president. She was often seen on camera escorting visitors through the Trump Tower lobby during the transition.

FILE: Retired Admiral James Stavridis (L), dean of Fletcher School at Tufts University is escorted by Madeleine Westerhout as he arrives at Trump Tower on December 8, 2016 in New York. Dominick Reuter / AFP/Getty Images

From the beginning, Westerhout was seen by some as an embodiment of the infighting between those who came to the Trump White House from the RNC and those who came from the campaign.

The White House had no on the record comment.

The dinner was not the first time she has been gossiping with reporters present. At a farewell event for former press secretary Sarah Sanders, Westerhout bragged about her gatekeeper status. Current and former White House officials found her to be a divisive personality and suspected she was disloyal to the president.

One former official said of Westerhout, "she was a spy from day one who sought to use her proximity to the president to curry favor with his detractors."

Politico reporter Tim Alberta wrote in his book "American Carnage" that Westerhout was "inconsolable" and seen crying on election night once it became clear Mr. Trump would defeat Hillary Clinton.

Westerhout could not be reached for comment Thursday night.

Westerhout's desk was just outside the Oval Office. As a special assistant to the president and director of Oval Office operations, Westerhout earned $145,000 annually.

Mr. Trump alluded to Westerhout's importance during a phone call with journalist Bob Woodward in September 2018, according to a transcript released by The Washington Post. Trump claimed that he did not receive any of Woodward's several interview requests for his forthcoming book, "Fear."

"Did you speak to Madeleine?" Mr. Trump asked. Woodward said he did not. "Madeleine is the key," Mr. Trump said. "She's the secret."

The New York Times first reported Westerhout's resignation.

Sara Cook contributed to this report.

First published on August 29, 2019 / 11:38 PM

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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