One White House staffer — hoping to reach early retirement before Donald Trump could fire him — reportedly hatched a plan that would make George Costanza proud.
Zachary Fuentes served as deputy chief of staff under John Kelly but was reportedly worried about what would happen to his position after Kelly leaves the administration at the end of the year. As Newsweek reported, Fuentes came up with a plan to “hide out” in the Eisenhoser Executive Building, located just outside the White House, in the hopes that he could lay low for long enough to qualify for 15 years of service in the military and take an early retirement.
But there was a hitch in his plan, the report noted. The early retirement program ended at the conclusion of the 2018 fiscal year, so Fuentes talked to the Department of Homeland Security, which pressured Congress to extend the program for another year. There was legislation in place that would extend the program, but when reporters started to ask questions about it, the extension was abruptly dropped from a bill that passed Congress earlier in the week.
Many compared Fuentes’ plan to the schemes of Seinfeld‘s George Costanza, a standout character who took great lengths into avoiding work.
Fuentes had been a longtime aide to Kelly before they went to work in the White House, but the 36-year-old reportedly became a polarizing figure in the Trump administration. He also drew Donald Trump’s wrath earlier this year after a much-criticized trip to France, in which Trump skipped a ceremony honoring fallen American troops because it was too rainy outside. Trump was widely slammed from both sides of the aisle, and Newsweek reported that he blamed Kelly and Fuentes for the decision.
Zachary Fuentes, 36, a White House deputy chief of staff, told colleagues that he devised a plan to “hide out” with pay for six months in a nebulous role, then retire early with the help of a legislative move https://t.co/okidWRUuHG— The New York Times (@nytimes) December 21, 2018
John Kelly’s exit is considered one of the biggest departures of a tenure filled with turnover for Donald Trump. General Kelly was credited with bringing a measure of order to a chaotic administration, but he frequently came into conflict with Trump and reports indicated that they were no longer on speaking terms.
As CNN reported, Kelly said he is relieved to be leaving the administration.
CNN’s Jim @Acosta reports that the outgoing chief of staff John Kelly is confiding in friends that he is relieved to be leaving his post at the White House. https://t.co/nywQ18PEvS pic.twitter.com/gsdWqSY2Li— The Situation Room (@CNNSitRoom) December 13, 2018
Though he may not be able to reach his early retirement, Zachary Fuentes could still have a chance to hang on a bit longer in the White House. As the Newsweek report noted, he will stay in his position during Kelly’s transition out of the administration, and the entry of incoming chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney.