‘Only the best people’: 17 former Trump officials who have spoken out against him

Trump at one of his MAGA rallies

Flickr / Gage Skidmore

The Trump administration is like a revolving door. In the past three years, more than 400 people appointed to positions within his administration have left for one reason or another.

While most of them simply resigned or moved on to different positions within the administration, some quit and then spoke out against Trump and his policies.

Ironically, Trump himself he he famously claimed he would “surround myself only with the best and most serious people.” That means the unprecedented number of people who resigned and spoke out against their former employer in the White House truly points to Trump’s own incompetence.

So here are 17 of the most prominent Trump critics who have spoken or testified against him in public, after working for him.

John Bolton

John Bolton looking to the left

Screenshot / YouTube

Trump’s former national security adviser resigned in September 2019. Since then, he has written a tell-all book, The Room Where it Happened. The book calls Trump not “fit for office” and refers to him as “erratic,” “impulsive,” and “stunningly uninformed.”

In an interview with ABC News, Bolton said, “There really isn’t any guiding principle that I was able to discern other than what’s good for Donald Trump’s reelection.”

According to Bolton, the last few months of his tenure in the administration were spent disagreeing with Trump. He wrote in his book, “I was sick at heart over Trump’s zeal to meet with Kim Jong Un.”

Omarosa Manigault Newman

The 17 Former Trump Officials Who Spoke Out Against Him


The former Director of Communications for the Office of Public Liaison resigned in December of 2017. Shortly afterward, she published a tell-all book, Unhinged, where she claimed that Trump used racial, ethnic, sexist and other cultural epithets to describe some of his detractors, including George Conway and Sen. Kamala Harris.

In the book, Newman ponders what drove Trump to say and do the things that he did. She said, “The only other explanation was that his mental state was so deteriorated that the filter between the worst impulses of his mind and his mouth were completely gone.”

Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman

Lt Col Alexander Vindman during his testimony

Screenshot / YouTube

The former Director for European Affairs for the United States National Security Council was reassigned in February of 2020. In October of 2019, Vindman testified against Trump in the House Impeachment hearings, which drew the ire of his employer: Trump.

In his testimony, Vindman said he did not approve of Trump’s dealings with Ukraine, stating, “I did not think it was proper to demand that a foreign government investigate a U.S. citizen, and I was worried about the implications to the U.S. Government’s support of Ukraine.”

Gordon Sondland

Sondland during his testimony

Screenshot / CNBC

The United States ambassador to the European Union was fired in February of 2020, upon the completion of the impeachment hearing. Sondland testified against Trump the previous November, in the House impeachment proceedings.

In his testimony, Sondland stated that “Everyone was in the loop” over the quid pro quo that had been established with Ukraine. He said, “I know that members of this committee frequently frame these complicated issues in the form of a simple question: Was there a quid pro quo? As I testified previously, with regard to the requested White House call and the White House meeting, the answer is yes.”

John Kelly

The 17 Former Trump Officials Who Spoke Out Against Him 1

Dept of Defense / U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Chad J. McNeeley

The former White House Chief of Staff announced that he was leaving in December of 2018. Once he left, he made it clear that he disagreed with many of the policies being pushed by the administration. In an interview, he stated that Trump’s border wall was a “waste of money” and contradicted the administration’s hard-line on migrants.

“They’re overwhelmingly not criminals. They’re people coming up here for economic purposes. I don’t blame them for that,” said Kelly.

Kelly also criticized Trump’s actions during the protests over racially charged police brutality. “I think we need to look harder at who we elect,” he said in an interview. “I think we should look at people that are running for office and put them through the filter: What is their character like? What are their ethics?”

James Mattis

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Dept of Defense / Kathryn E. Holm

The former United States Secretary of Defense resigned in January 2019. During the impeachment hearings in January 2020, Mattis denounced Trump openly. He wrote, “I have watched this week’s unfolding events, angry and appalled.”

He also stated, “We must reject and hold accountable those in office who would make a mockery of our Constitution.”

Jeff Sessions

Jeff Sessions smirking

Flickr / Gage Skidmore

The former U.S. Attorney General resigned in 2018, after having recused himself from the investigation of the Trump administration’s dealings with Russia. After he resigned, Trump fired insults and accusations at the Republican Sessions who was looking to run for the Senate in Alabama.

Sessions fired back that Trump’s “personal feelings don’t dictate who Alabama picks as their senator, the people of Alabama do.”

Fiona Hill

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Screenshot / YouTube

The former official at the U.S. National Security Council, specializing in Russian and European affairs, resigned in July of 2019. In November of that same year, she testified in the House impeachment hearing. In her testimony, she asserted that Russia had interfered in the 2016 election, and flatly denied that Ukraine had interfered at all in favor of the Democratic party.

Her testimony snuffed out the popular Republican theory that it was Ukraine, not Russia, that had interfered in the 2016 election.

Anthony Scaramucci

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The former White House Director of Communications (who served for all of ten days) resigned in July of 2017. Since then, Scaramucci has come out against Trump’s policies and decisions. He wrote in an op-ed for the Washington Post, “I can no longer in good conscience support the president’s reelection.”

He also made a call to action: “The negatives of Trump’s demagoguery now clearly outweigh the positives of his leadership, and it is imperative that Americans unite to prevent him from serving another four years in office.”

Hope Hicks

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The former White House communications director and the current counselor to Trump had resigned in 2018 after testimony where she admitted that she had told lies to save face for the administration.

Hicks also admitted to the House Intelligence Committee that she had spun the news to make it look favorable to Trump.

Gary Cohn

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The former chief economic advisor to Trump resigned in March of 2018. While in his position, he was a vocal critic of the Trump administration, publicly criticizing Trump’s statements made after the white supremacist protests in Charlottesville.

After he left, Cohn continued to make public statements about the Trump administration. He said, “I thought I could potentially sway him, and I also know, historically, that sometimes what you run on is not exactly what you mean when you come to govern. In my mind, having a seat on the inside and trying to influence was better than being on the outside and trying to get to a more positive outcome on, you know, climate, on trade, on immigration.”

Mary Elizabeth Taylor

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The former Assistant Secretary of State for Legislative Affairs resigned in June, 2020, in protest of the administration’s response to the nationwide mass protests against racially charged police brutality.

She stated in her resignation that the president’s actions “cut sharply against my core values and convictions.”

William Taylor

A top diplomat's testimony in the Impeachment trial has blown up Trump's defense

Screenshot / CBS

The former acting ambassador to Ukraine served between June 2019 to January 2020. In October of 2019, Taylor testified against Trump in the House impeachment hearings.

Taylor said, “Following the call with President Trump, the member of my staff asked Ambassador Sondland what President Trump thought about Ukraine. Ambassador Sondland responded that President Trump cares more about the investigations of Biden, which Giuliani was pressing for.”

Dr. Rick Bright

Rick Bright testifies before Congress

Screenshot / C-SPAN

The vaccine expert was fired from his job at the Department of Health and Human Services in April 2020. Afterward, he filed a whistleblower’s complaint that stretched into 300 pages. He said in an interview with CBS that hydroxychloroquine, the malaria drug touted as a cure for COVID-19 by Trump, was dangerous.

Bright stated, “And the limited data available told us that it could be dangerous. It could have negative side effects. And it could even lead to death.”

Rex Tillerson

Rex Tillerson wearing glasses


Trump’s first secretary of state was fired in March of 2018. He told CBS in an interview that Trump was “undisciplined.”

Tillerson also complained that working for Trump was challenging because “he doesn’t like to read, doesn’t read briefing reports, doesn’t like to get into the details of a lot of things, but rather just kind of says [what’s on his mind.]”

Richard Spencer

Richard Spencer speaking to a reporter

Screenshot / YouTube

The former Secretary of the Navy was fired in November 2019. He publicly stated that Trump’s interference in war crimes cases was “shocking and unprecedented.” Trump tried to interfere in the Eddie Gallagher case.

Spencer wrote in an op-ed for the Washington Post that “I came to believe that Trump’s interest in the case stemmed partly from the way the defendant’s lawyers and others had worked to keep it front and center in the media.”

Tom Bossert

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The former Homeland Security Advisor resigned in April 2018. Recently, he has denounced Trump for not wearing a mask in public. He also said that he was “deeply disturbed” by the idea of Trump pressing Ukraine for dirt on the Bidens.

“It is a bad day and a bad week for this president and for this country if he is asking for political dirt on an opponent,” said Bossert in an interview.

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