It appears President Donald Trump may need additional help from the Secret Service the next time he hosts the University of Alabama’s football team as special guests at the White House.
Cliff Sims, a special assistant to the President and Alabama graduate, asked President Trump to sign a football as a national champions keepsake for Republican Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey during the Crimson Tide’s visit in April. The problem? The ball never made it to Ivey and was recently spotted in Sims’ office.
From Politico’s report on Alabama’s mysteriously missing football:
Sims told colleagues he had received sign-off from the White House counsel’s office to have the ball signed and gifted to the Alabama state house, and never handled the ball again after dropping it off. Other staffers said they saw it in Sims’ office after the team left the White House campus.
Either way, the ball eventually ended up on John Kelly’s desk, and the frustrated chief of staff summoned Sims into his office to ask him what the heck was going on with his unexpected presence in the Oval Office, and a signed football floating around the White House. Sims declined to comment.
Sims reportedly received clearance to ask for President Trump’s signature and he obliged. But the director of White House message strategy made off with the pigskin and it “eventually ended up on White House chief of staff John Kelly’s desk, who became frustrated and met with Sims”, Politico reports.
The football snafu was reported by Washington media and painted to portray the administration’s loose security restrictions. “Kelly should have much more important things on his plate than chasing footballs around the West Wing,” said Chris Whipple, author of “The Gatekeepers: How the White House chiefs of staff define every presidency.”
Saban and Alabama’s football team took a brief spring-practice break and visited 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in April at President Trump’s special request.
“Not a lot of people get invited to the White House, so not many people get invited to see the president and meet the president, so this is a special day for our team, a team that is being honored here because of their achievements in terms of winning the College Football Playoff National Championship, which makes me very proud,” Saban said.
It was President Trump’s second time seeing the Crimson Tide in person, but first on his home field.
“It’s my great honor to welcome the College Football National Champions to the White House, the University of Alabama Crimson Tide. Congratulations, congratulations,” Trump said on the South Lawn. “To the university president Stuart Bell, athletic director Greg Byrne, coach Nick Saban and the extraordinary group of players — and they are extraordinary, they’re going to be very rich — gathered here, congratulations on your incredible victory. It was truly a win for the ages. I don’t know if you know, but I was there, I got to see it.
The White House declined comment on Politico’s mysterious signed football report.