President Trump announced Friday afternoon at Mar-a-Lago that Small Business Administrator Linda McMahon is resigning to help with his reelection efforts. CBS News had previously confirmed that she is leaving to work for America First, the pro-Trump PAC.
“Linda McMahon has done an incredible job as the head of the Small Business Administration, she has been a superstar,” Mr. Trump told reporters at Mar-a-Lago. “… She’ll be leaving, she’s going to go and help us with a very very important year-and-a-half that we have coming up.”
The president said his administration will be announcing McMahon’s replacement soon, in consultation with McMahon. He gave no hints as to who that replacement might be.
“So I just want to again I want to thank the job that you’ve done,” the president told McMahon. “I’ll tell you what, Linda has been so great, and when somebody does that good a job i’d rather do it this way than just say bye-bye. And so I’m doing it this way and I’ll tell you, Linda McMahon is a very special person. And now she’s gonna be working with me very hard so that we keep this miracle that we’ve built.”
McMahon thanked Mr. Trump for the opportunity to work as SBA administrator, and issued a formal statement as well.
“I’m very proud of the work this agency has done to improve the way we connect small businesses to capital, counseling and government contracts,” McMahon said in a statement. “The focus that we have put on supporting women entrepreneurship, veteran businesses and rural development has been particularly rewarding for me.”
The president also commented on the news that Attorney General William Barr expects to release the full report from special counsel Robert Mueller, with redactions, by mid-April. Barr.
“Well I have great confidence in the attorney general, and if that’s what he’d like to do, I have nothing to hide,” the president told reporters.
CBS News’ earlier story below:
Small Business Administrator Linda McMahon plans to resign soon, according to a senior White House official. She will join America First, the pro-Trump political action committee, according to another source with direct knowledge of the situation. A third source outside the White House also confirmed she plans to leave the SBA.
“POTUS loves Linda and Brian Walsh and Linda have known each other for years. She’ll be an outstanding addition to the team,” the source with direct knowledge told CBS News in a text message.
Mr. Trump told reporters in Florida that he would be holding a press conference Friday afternoon at his Mar-a-Lago club about McMahon.
“We’re gonna have a news conference at Mar-a-Lago I think at 4 o’clock, about Linda. She’s great,” the president told reporters.
McMahon and her husband, wrestling entertainment magnate Vince McMahon,for over 20 years. The two have been among the president’s most prolific donors. Linda McMahon donated $6 million between August and September 2016 to “Rebuilding America Now,” a super PAC that supported Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign.
Politico first reported McMahon’s impending departure. She has headed the SBA since 2017. It’s unclear who will replace her.
Sen. Lindsey Graham tweeted Friday afternoon he was sad to hear of McMahon’s impending departure.
“I am disappointed to hear that Linda McMahon will be leaving the Small Business Administration,” Graham tweeted. “She did a terrific job for President Trump and small businesses all over the country. She has much to be proud of and will be missed.”
Mr. Trump made the comments to reporters about McMahon while surveying the Herbert Hoover Dike surrounding Lake Okeechobee in Florida.
It’s unclear exactly what the president means by a press conference, and how many journalists will be able to be present. Reporters generally aren’t allowed on Mar-a-Lago grounds, and the designated reporting team called the “pool” isn’t set up on Mar-a-Lago grounds.
The president’s tour of the dike comes after a fiery speech he gave to supporters in Grand Rapids, Michigan, in which he mocked “pencil-neck” House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff and blasted the “ridiculous bullshit” Mueller investigation that he says exonerates him.
“The collusion delusion is over,” the president declared before a raucous crowd Thursday night.
— CBS News’ chief Washington correspondent Major Garrett contributed reporting.
This is a developing story and will be updated.