Kelly Sadler is the former White House press officer who lost her job after making a dark joke about John McCain’s health. Back in May, in a White House meeting about the nomination of Gina Haspel to be CIA director, Sadler said that it didn’t matter if McCain opposed Haspel’s nomination because — in her words — the senator was “dying anyway.” McCain was undergoing treatment for a malignant brain tumor at the time.
After Sadler’s cruel joke was leaked to the press, she called McCain’s daughter to apologize — but she never made a public apology. On June 5, the White House announced that she was no longer working for them.
“Kelly Sadler is no longer employed within the Executive Office of the President,” wrote Raj Shah, the principal deputy press secretary, in an emailed statement.
So, what is Kelly Sadler doing now? Here’s what you need to know:
1. Sadler Was Actually Fired for ‘Front-Stabbing’ Her Boss, White House Strategic Communications Director Mercedes Schlapp
It would have made sense to assume that the White House fired Sadler because of her crass joke about John McCain. After all, the joke got leaked to the Hill, and created a ton of bad press for the White House.
But in fact, the Daily Beast reports that Sadler was fired because she tried to throw her direct boss under the bus. According to the Daily Beast, Sadler was taking part in on an Oval Office meeting with the president to discuss how her joke about McCain got leaked to the media. Sadler told President Trump that she thought her boss, White House strategic communications director Mercedes Schlapp, was behind the leak.
Schlapp was standing right there when Sadler said that. White House sources told the Daily Beast that Sadler was fired as a result of that meeting, as well as because of her careless mistakes using “BCC’s” to accidentally share White House talking points with the wrong people.
2. Sadler Has Turned Down Offers for Other Jobs in the Trump Administration
The Trump administration told Sadler that there were jobs open to her if she wanted to stay. “Kelly Sadler has been told that there are administration jobs that fit with her skill set and her experience and that the rest is really her choice, what she would like to do next,” Kellyanne Conway told CNN. But Sadler apparently didn’t want any of those jobs.
The Daily Beast reports that Sadler was offered other positions in the Trump administration after she was forced out of her position in the strategic communications department. But Sadler — not known for her tact — apparently told the people making those offers to “f*** off.”
“They gave her that option but she told them to f*** off,” reported the Daily Beast. Sources in the administration speculated that Sadler is “laying low” waiting until the scandal blows over before she decides on her next move.
3. Sadler’s LinkedIn Page Still Says She Works for the White House
If you go to Kelly Sadler’s LinkedIn page, you’ll see that she still calls herself Director of Surrogacy and Outreach at the White House. The page says taht she’s been in that position for one year and five months.
Prior to working at the White House, Sadler spent just over three years as a reporter and editor for the Washington Times. She holds an MA in broadcast journalism from Northwestern University and a BA in Chinese and international relations from Hamilton College. Sadler describes herself as “a creative thinker with a journalism and business consulting background, who can synthesize information to write talking points and editorials.”
It is not clear what Sadler is up to these days. She has no public social media presence. She has stayed carefully out of the headlines. And she has turned down offers for another job in the Trump administration.
4. Scaramucci Said ‘Someone Had it Out for Kelly Sadler’ And She Did a ‘Pretty Decent’ Job
Speaking to Chris Cuomo on CNN, one-time White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci said that Sadler was the victim of warring “factions” within the White House communications department. Scaramucci said that Sadler’s joke about McCain was “unforgivable” but that it had been addressed in the wrong way.
He told Chris Cuomo that the communications department should have reprimanded Sadler and said something publicly — but instead, he said, someone who “disliked” Sadler had chosen to “take their cell phone” and leak her joke to the media. Scaramucci said that Sadler had other with been doing a “pretty decent” job running her department and that it was a shame that she had been treated the way she was.
5. Sadler’s Ouster Reportedly Created a Lot of Fear and Uncertainty in the White House Communications Department
It’s pretty clear that Sadler was fired, not because of what she said about McCain, but because of an ongoing feud among different factions in the communications department. That’s why her ouster made plenty of people in the department get jumpy.
In June, just after Sadler’s ouster, CNN reported that the White House was ready to “purge” a number of lower-level communications staffers. Sadler was the only director to be fired. But her departure apparently intensified the anxiety felt by many people in the communications department. Sources told CNN that the department’s directors “have made it clear nobody is safe no matter what.”
CNN reported that communications department staff would be reassigned to smaller agencies, like the Peace Corps. In Sadler’s case, she was apparently offered a job elsewhere in the Trump administration but turned it down. The speculation is that Sadler is waiting for people to forget about her tasteless joke about dying Senator and war hero John McCain before she decides what her next step should be.