|White House Principal Deputy Chief of Staff|
June 6, 2018 – January 2, 2019
|Preceded by||James W. Carroll|
|Succeeded by||Emma Doyle|
|Born||1981/1982 (age 37–38)|
|Education||United States Coast Guard Academy (BS)|
|Branch/service||United States Coast Guard|
Zachary D. Fuentes is an American political advisor and businessman who served as Assistant to the President and Deputy Chief of Staff in the Trump Administration. He formerly served as a senior advisor and assistant to John F. Kelly, while he served as White House Chief of Staff and Secretary of Homeland Security. He left the Trump administration in January 2019.
In November 2018, Fuentes was blamed for the decision that Trump would not be able to fly or drive in a motorcade to the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery and Memorial as part of the First World War centenary.
The New York Times reported on December 20, 2018 that Fuentes, an officer on active duty with the United States Coast Guard, had discussed inserting a provision into a House bill that would have allowed him to take advantage of a Coast Guard early retirement program that had previously expired. Homeland Security officials began pressing Congress to reinstate the provision in November 2018. It was abruptly withdrawn from a bill after reporters had inquired about it in December.
After Kelly's exit from the white house was announced on December 8, 2018, President Donald Trump rejected Fuentes as being named interim chief of staff. Fuentes told colleagues he was planning to "hide out" in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building for six months to accomplish the retirement program minimum career length. In the White House, Fuentes' nicknames included "Zotus", "deputy president", and "prime minister".
On January 2, 2019 Fuentes' White House title changed to Assistant to The President and Senior Adviser to the Chief of Staff, Mick Mulvaney. This was reported as a sign of Fuentes' expected departure from the White House.
During the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, Fuentes created the company Zach Fuentes LLC and received a $3 million contract from the Indian Health Service to provide protective face masks to hospitals in the Navajo Nation, 11 days after creating the company. Over 25% of the masks were reported to be unsuitable for medical use, and another 15% were of a type that was not requested. US House of Representatives members Gerry Connolly and Ruben Gallego called for an investigation of the contract, and principal deputy inspector general Christi Grimm of the Office of Inspector General, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said that the office would contact Connolly for more information on the matter. By July 2020, NPR reported that Congress was investigating the awarding of the contract to Fuentes's company.
- Haberman, Maggie; Fandos, Nicholas (December 20, 2018). "A Top Aide's Exit Plan Raises Eyebrows in the White House". The New York Times. Retrieved December 21, 2018.
- "President Donald J. Trump Announces Appointments for the Executive Office of the President". White House. June 6, 2018. Retrieved June 23, 2018.
- McCaskill, Nolan D. (June 9, 2017). "Chief of staff Kelly builds out his West Wing team". Politico. Retrieved June 23, 2018.
- "REGISTER OF OFFICERS - 2019" (PDF). United States Coast Guard. p. 57.
- "Report: Trump Decided to Skip Cemetery Visit, Blamed Aides for Fallout". The Daily Beast. November 14, 2018. Retrieved May 27, 2020.
By Tuesday, Trump was still fuming about the incident and had complained to aides that he looked "terrible," the Post reports. He also reportedly blamed his chief of staff's office, particularly Fuentes, for not warning him that canceling the visit would prompt widespread criticism.
- Maddow, Rachel (December 21, 2018). "Normal Corruption Scandal Highlights Distorted News Climate (video; 1:32-11:05 min.)". MSNBC – via Youtube.
- Hutzler, Alexandra (December 21, 2018). "White House Staffer Devised Plan to 'Hide Out' for 6 Months While Still Getting Paid: Report". Newsweek. Retrieved December 21, 2018.
- Sherman, Gabriel (December 10, 2018). ""This Was a Humiliation": After Firing Kelly, Trump Has No Plan B". Vanity Fair. Retrieved May 27, 2020.
- Haberman, Maggie; Rogers, Katie (June 10, 2018). "'Drama, Action, Emotional Power': As Exhausted Aides Eye the Exits, Trump Is Re-energized". White House Memo. The New York Times. Retrieved May 27, 2020.
- Cook, Nancy (January 4, 2019). "Mulvaney eggs Trump on in shutdown fight". Politico. Retrieved June 27, 2019.
- Karni, Annie; Haberman, Maggie (January 29, 2019). "The Many Ways to Leave the White House". White House Memo. The New York Times. Retrieved May 27, 2020.
Some aides have tried to disappear across the street. Zachary D. Fuentes, the deputy chief of staff, is still on the payroll, even though the acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, brought in his own deputy, Emma Doyle.
- Birnbaum, Emily (December 23, 2018). "Mulvaney says White House will find 'productive' work for staffer who allegedly pushed for early retirement plan". The Hill. Retrieved May 27, 2020.
- Nazaryan, Alexander (May 26, 2020). "Calls in Congress for probe on how former Trump aide won $3 million respirator contract". Yahoo! News. Retrieved May 27, 2020.
"The no-bid contract awarded to Mr. Fuentes definitely has our full attention," Connolly told Yahoo News after the hearing. Connolly, who heads the House Oversight Subcommittee on Government Operations, vowed that even if HHS did not investigate the Fuentes contract, congressional Democrats would do so themselves. During the hearing itself, he said there was "something suspicious" about the whole affair.
- Torbati, Yeganeh; Willis, Derek (May 24, 2020). "The Feds Gave a Former White House Official $3 Million to Supply Masks to Navajo Hospitals. Some May Not Work". Government Executive. Retrieved May 27, 2020.
- Torbati, Yeganeh (May 26, 2020). "Democratic Congressman Calls for Probe Into Former White House Official's $3 Million Mask Deal". ProPublica. Retrieved May 27, 2020.
- "Congress Is Investigating Contracts Tied To Mask And PPE Shortages". NPR.org. Retrieved July 16, 2020.
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