Ja’Ron Smith, the highest-ranking Black person in the White House and a top aide who worked with Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerTrump says Biden should not ‘wrongfully’ claim victory in presidential race White House aide Ja’Ron Smith leaves post Trump, allies pledge fight in election as some acknowledge possible defeat MORE, left his position Friday.
A White House official confirmed that Smith had left his position and said his departure was long-planned, regardless of the outcome of the election. The development was first reported by Bloomberg News.
Smith served as deputy assistant to President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden claims a ‘mandate’ to govern, calls for end to ‘partisan warfare’ Mark Meadows tests positive for coronavirus Georgia Senate race between Perdue, Ossoff heads to runoff MORE for domestic policy and was first brought into the White House in 2017 to advise the president on urban affairs and revitalization policy. He became the highest-ranking Black individual in Trump’s White House following the departure of Omarosa Manigault NewmanOmarosa Onee Manigault NewmanWhite House aide Ja’Ron Smith leaves post Omarosa backs Biden, predicts Trump will lose Trump campaign wants Omarosa to pay for nearly million ad campaign: report MORE in 2018.
In a lengthy statement issued later Friday, Smith said it was the “honor of a lifetime” to serve in the Trump administration and called his departure “bittersweet.”
“When joining the Trump Administration, I set out to achieve the empty promises of the past, and I am proud to say promises made, promises kept. In four years, President Trump has delivered for Black America; record low unemployment, Opportunity Zones, criminal justice reform, historic funding for HBCUs, and the list goes on,” Smith said.
“This decision was made in consultation with my family (one that will be growing very soon with the addition of twins), and given the blessing of my beloved colleagues at the White House long before the election,” he said.
His departure comes three days after Election Day and as Democratic nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden claims a ‘mandate’ to govern, calls for end to ‘partisan warfare’ Mark Meadows tests positive for coronavirus Trump supporters scream at Telemundo reporter during live broadcast from Maricopa ballot center MORE appears on the verge of winning the presidential race after overtaking Trump in Georgia and Pennsylvania. Trump has insisted he will win reelection and plans to contest the results in some states.
Smith worked closely with Kushner, including recently on Trump’s executive order aimed at reforming policing following the police killing of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, in Minneapolis. Trump signed the order in June and Smith was one of the main proponents of its details.
Smith more recently delivered an address at the Republican National Convention during which he touted the president’s agenda for Black Americans.
“Donald Trump knows that in the work of revitalizing communities, America’s strength is America’s people. And I can tell you — he really cares. But, more importantly, he takes action,” Smith said during his RNC address in August.
Smith’s exit comes after Kushner made controversial comments about Black Americans in an interview on “Fox & Friends.” In the interview last week, Kushner said that Trump wants to help Black Americans but that they have to “want to be successful” in order for his policies to work.
Smith defended Kushner amid scrutiny, tweeting that he had been a “huge advocate” for issues that affect Black America, including criminal justice reform and opportunity zones.
Updated: 5:50 p.m. EST