Who Is Chris Vlasto? The 'GMA' Producer Won't Work In The Trump White House After All
On Wednesday, Politico reported that Good Morning America producer Chris Vlasto was in talks with Donald Trump's transition team about taking on a role in the president-elect's nascent administration, possibly as White House communications director. Shortly after the piece went live, however, the ABC News "fixture" clarified to the publication that although he had met with the transition team, he had removed his name from contention. Why he decided to do so isn't public knowledge, but the fact that Trump considered him in the first place is much less mysterious: During his long tenure with the network, Vlasto worked to expose scandals related to President Bill Clinton and his wife, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, whom Trump unexpectedly defeated for the nation's top job after a vicious campaign cycle last month.
In an emailed statement to Politico, Vlasto wrote that he "was approached" about the possibility of a role within Trump's White House, but ultimately decided against the career move. "I had preliminary conversations with the transition team, and I've taken my name out of consideration," he concluded.
Romper has reached out to Trump's team as well as Good Morning America for comment about the sudden change, but has not yet heard back from either.
According to an 2014 internal memo from GMA's senior executive producer, Vlasto possesses attributes that Trump has shown himself to value. In the communiqué announcing that Vlasto had been promoted to executive producer of the program's 7 a.m. hour, Tom Cibrowski praised him as a "longtime fixture" there "who has worked on every program" (suggesting loyalty) and an "outstanding leader" who "has been instrumental in driving us to number one" (Trump loves winners and winning).
But what likely really drew Trump to Vlasto is that he was a part of reporting on Clinton scandals during his terms in office in the 1990s. In that role, he produced coverage that at times reportedly infuriated the then-president, whose past Trump worked to smear when he himself came under intense criticism during the campaign for allegedly touching women sexually without their consent.
For example, Vlasto, along with reporter Jackie Judd, reported salacious details about Clinton's affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky. Specifically, "their exclusive and eyebrow-raising report that Lewinsky had kept a semen-stained blue dress from an encounter with Clinton," as Salon's Eric Boehlert described it, turned out to be true. At least one "fact" was later proven to be false, as well, such as the 1998 report that Clinton and Lewinsky had been "caught in an intimate encounter in a private area of the White House."
Salon also claimed back in 2004 that Vlasto, now 50, allegedly worked at the time as an unofficial advisor to the legal team of Kenneth Starr, the lawyer who brought about the impeachment hearings against Clinton on perjury charges. Vlasto did not respond to a request for comment on that accusation of collusion.
As he and his team have worked to fill out his Cabinet and other admin picks, the president-elect has displayed a penchant for nominating and hiring big-time campaign donors (such as WWE magnate Linda McMahon) and loyalists and early supporters (like potential future attorney general Jeff Sessions) to top posts. He's also has show a vindictive side: He made a very public show of considering former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney — who was unabashedly critical of Trump as a candidate — for the job of secretary of state, only to offer it to Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson instead.
Considering Vlasto's history of doing tough (if sometimes less than airtight) reporting on the Clintons, Trump's clear rivals, Vlasto may have fit right in among his other picks. As soon as Vlasto's reported exploration of joining the administration went public, though, he called it off — and what his true intentions were — and are now — just aren't clear.