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USAID’s controversial White House liaison heads to media shop


William Maloney, the powerful and controversial White House liaison at the U.S. Agency for International Development, is leaving his job, according to two Trump administration officials familiar with the matter, and is going to the U.S. Agency for Global Media.

Maloney, 23, will start Friday as an adviser in the front office of the new leader of USAGM, Michael Pack, where he will assist Pack in his efforts to dramatically reshape the agency. Pack, a Steve Bannon ally, fired the heads of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio Free Asia, and other outlets as he started as CEO of the taxpayer-funded media group, moves that drew criticism from members of both parties in Congress.

Career USAID staffers who have spoken with POLITICO in the past described him as widely distrusted within the aid agency, especially as he helped bring in or elevate a number of new political appointees to an institution whose work is largely technical.

Several of those appointees had histories of inflammatory remarks on subjects such as Islam, transgender rights and feminism. One of them is Merritt Corrigan, a deputy to Maloney who has alleged that the United States is in the clutches of a “homo-empire,” according to a report by ProPublica. Another controversial recent appointee is Mark Kevin Lloyd, a religious freedom adviser who has referred to Islam as a “barbaric cult.”

It’s uncertain who will replace Maloney, who declined to comment. His stint at the media group is a detail and could be temporary. A spokesperson for USAID said the agency had no personnel announcements for now.

USAID staffers have urged the agency’s acting administrator, John Barsa, to take concrete steps to ensure they were protected from potential discrimination. Barsa has said he would not tolerate discrimination, but he’s also denounced news articles that highlighted the backgrounds of the controversial appointees. Maloney had the idea for and was involved in the drafting of Barsa’s statement in early June condemning the “unwarranted and malicious attacks” on the appointees, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The White House has taken notice of the negative stream of articles about USAID in recent weeks, although it was not clear if that contributed to Maloney’s departure, one Trump administration official said. The 23 year-old’s ability to exert so much power at USAID upset and astonished some veteran U.S. officials.

“He’s too big for his boots,” the Trump administration official said.

Another person familiar with Maloney’s move said the White House was uncomfortable with the hostility he was experiencing at USAID. At USAGM, this person said, he’s likely to be around a more like-minded political team that will protect him.

Before joining USAID in March, Maloney briefly was a special policy assistant in the office of the secretary at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, where he helped the chief of staff with daily work, researched and wrote memos about policy issues and met with HUD stakeholders. He also was a paralegal specialist at HUD, a role he started in February 2019.

Maloney, who joined the first Trump campaign in September 2015 as an intern, entered the Trump administration in September 2017 as an assistant at the Department of Justice, where he worked in three different offices, including the associate attorney general and the assistant attorney general for justice programs.

He took a four-month break from the administration in late 2018 to work for the pro-Trump group America First Policies, where he was an independent expenditure assistant. Maloney, who is close to people in Steve Bannon’s orbit, is also personal friends with John McEntee, the 30-year-old powerful head of the Presidential Personnel Office. The two met each other on the campaign early on.

Early on in his brief time at USAID, Maloney tried to persuade Barsa to get rid of USAID’s print subscription to China Daily, an English-language newspaper published by the Chinese Communist Party, according to a person familiar with the matter. But agency leadership thought it was too controversial of a move and so kept the subscription. Despite being overruled by USAID leadership on that matter, Maloney won praise at the White House for his efforts.

Source: Politics, Policy, Political News Top Stories https://www.politico.com/news/2020/07/16/usaid-white-house-liaison-leaves-job-366320

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