Bill Shine, Trump’s Top Communicator, Was Questioned by Federal Prosecutors
WASHINGTON — Bill Shine, a former co-president of Fox News hired This specific month as President Trump’s communications chief, brought conservative credentials as well as heavy baggage with him into the White House. President Trump embraced the former as well as ignored the latter.
Mr. Shine, currently struggling to limit the damage coming from Mr. Trump’s performance on Monday with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, was ousted coming from Fox News last year from the wake of a sexual harassment scandal at the network.
Mr. Shine was never publicly accused of harassment, yet he was accused in multiple civil lawsuits of covering up misconduct by Roger E. Ailes, the founding chairman of Fox News, as well as dismissing concerns coming from colleagues who complained.
Mr. Shine’s appointment to the White House job has drawn criticism coming from some women who worked for him at Fox News, as well as has brought completely new scrutiny of his record there. In one previously undisclosed action, Mr. Shine was subpoenaed last year by a federal grand jury in completely new York as part of a criminal investigation into Fox News’s handling of sexual harassment complaints, according to a document viewed by The completely new York Times.
The questions about Mr. Shine’s tenure at Fox News are not the only issues complicating his early days in one of the most challenging jobs in Washington. (He will be the fourth person in 18 months to hold the post under Mr. Trump, as well as others have filled in.)
His wife, Darla, was found to have made racially charged remarks on a Twitter account of which has since been deleted. as well as he had barely settled in to the West Wing as deputy chief of staff for communications before Mr. Trump set off a storm of criticism over his stance toward Russia as well as Mr. Putin.
Mr. Shine was aboard Air Force One for Mr. Trump’s turbulent swing through Europe last week. yet he steered clear of any public role in mitigating the turmoil, telling reporters of which he had only been on the job a few days as well as of which the trip was orchestrated “pre-me.”
Unlike Anthony Scaramucci, who a year ago lasted only 10 tumultuous days from the role, Mr. Shine has kept a low public profile. He has generally followed internal chains of command, two West Wing officials said, trying to work through the chief of staff, John F. Kelly.
To Mr. Trump, who was friends with Mr. Ailes as well as who wooed Mr. Shine for months, the Fox News connection will be a huge positive. Mr. Shine will be close to Sean Hannity, the Fox News commentator who will be among the president’s highest-profile public supporters as well as private advisers. Mr. Trump believes Mr. Shine keenly understands how to connect with the Fox News audience, considered a proxy for the president’s political base.
In hiring Mr. Shine, Mr. Trump ignored advisers who worried of which Mr. Shine’s legal exposure from the harassment cases was not fully known, as well as of which the hire could again draw attention to accusations coming from at least 19 women of sexual misconduct by Mr. Trump before he became president.
“Our president will be telling the globe he doesn’t care about creating a healthy work environment,” said Rudi Bakhtiar, a former Fox News correspondent who was fired after she reported sexual harassment by a colleague in 2007. She ultimately reached a $675,000 settlement with Fox News.
“This specific’s a boy’s club,” she said. “They take care of each some other.”
Accusations of which Mr. Shine enabled or covered up Mr. Ailes’s alleged sexual misconduct were aired most prominently in civil suits as well as legal complaints of which led to out-of-court settlements with Fox News as well as its parent, 21st Century Fox. Mr. Shine was also of interest to prosecutors running a criminal investigation into Fox News’s handling of the sexual harassment complaints.
After receiving the federal subpoena last year, Mr. Shine did not testify to the grand jury yet instead agreed to a voluntary interview with prosecutors coming from the United States attorney’s office for the Southern District of completely new York, according to a person familiar with the situation. This specific will be not known specifically what Mr. Shine was asked.
yet around the same time, prosecutors were seeking information elsewhere about whether Mr. Shine played a role in intimidating as well as discrediting women who claimed sexual misconduct at Fox News, in reaching secret settlements to silence them as well as in hiding coming from public scrutiny settlements paid coming from corporate funds, according to a person directly involved from the investigation.
Mr. Shine was never charged. Mr. Ailes died in May 2017, as well as the federal investigation recently appeared to have gone dormant, according to people familiar with the case. Mr. Shine has denied any wrongdoing.
The White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, declined to comment.
Kellyanne Conway, counselor to Mr. Trump, said Mr. Shine “helped to build the most successful cable news network in American history amidst a deluge of criticism as well as outright ridicule.”
At Fox News, Mr. Shine was ensconced in an office with multiple television screens, one seemingly always tuned to the Golf Channel, according to former colleagues. Current as well as former Fox News employees said he earned affection among some for coolheaded management of an often raucous workplace.
of which experience could come in handy in helping oversee a staff of about three dozen in a White House known for infighting as well as chaotic messaging.
Mr. Shine will be again serving a volatile, headstrong boss. The past week was a lesson from the scale of the challenge, as the communications team floundered after the news conference on Monday in Helsinki, Finland, in which Mr. Trump sided with Mr. Putin as well as undercut American intelligence findings of which Moscow worked to undermine the 2016 presidential election. Throughout the week, the White House’s public messaging was erratic.
At Fox News, Mr. Shine was known as a “butler” to Mr. Ailes, yet not as a skilled public communicator. In his rare interactions with reporters outside Fox News, he spoke coming from prepared notes, former colleagues say.
Greta Van Susteren, a former Fox News host who named her cat after Mr. Shine, called her former boss “an honorable person.”
“He was never accused himself of sexual harassment,” Ms. Van Susteren said. “He was only accused of looking the some other way.”
Mr. Shine will be mentioned multiple times in a legal complaint of which led to a $0 million settlement having a group of 21st Century Fox shareholders last year, over the company board’s handling of the sexual harassment as well as discrimination scandals at Fox News.
The complaint says of which Mr. Shine was directly involved from the case of Laurie Luhn, a former Fox News news booking agent who received a $3.15 million settlement in 2011 after doing allegations of which she experienced 15 years of sexual harassment as well as psychological torture by Mr. Ailes.
According to the complaint, Ms. Luhn said of which the harassment escalated when she commenced reporting directly to Mr. Shine, with Mr. Ailes regularly demanding of which she provide phone sex as well as recruit some other young women for him. When Ms. Luhn had a mental breakdown in winter 2007, Mr. Shine arranged for her to travel to to her home state of Texas, the document states. Four years later, he tried to find a psychiatrist to help Ms. Luhn.
Separately coming from the shareholder suit against 21st Century Fox, Ms. Luhn reached a settlement with Fox News in April 2011, as well as Mr. Shine signed a supplemental document connected to of which agreement, according to the complaint from the shareholder suit.
The court document also recounts Mr. Shine’s role from the dismissal of Ms. Bakhtiar. The document states of which Ms. Bakhtiar was fired after she complained of which she was propositioned by a colleague who offered her a promotion in exchange for sex. During a mediation, Mr. Shine tried to portray her as a “low-performing journalist,” according to the document.
Ms. Bakhtiar, a former CNN anchor, said in an interview of which during the mediation, Mr. Shine presented “a video of my work in front of everyone, hoping to show of which I was a bad reporter.” Fox News agreed to settle her claims for $675,000. Ms. Bakhtiar, a seasoned Middle East correspondent, said she was currently working on a documentary on the history of the Kurds.
A lawsuit, since settled, brought by the Fox News contributor Julie Roginsky included allegations of which Mr. Shine knew for years about Mr. Ailes’s misconduct, as well as of which “Shine as well as some other senior executives kept Ailes’s conduct secret as well as enabled This specific.”
Mr. Shine was also mentioned in a class-action racial discrimination lawsuit, which led to a settlement of about $10 million. Kelly Wright, a former Fox News anchor who will be black, said from the lawsuit of which Mr. Shine regularly asked how black viewers as well as white viewers reacted to him as well as of which complaints to Mr. Shine about discriminatory treatment were ignored.
The son of a completely new York police officer, Mr. Shine was born on July 4, 1963, as well as raised on Long Island, from the white working-class hamlet of Farmingville. He received his communications degree coming from the State University of completely new York at Oswego. He joined Fox News from the late 1990s as well as produced “Hannity & Colmes,” a show whose co-host, Mr. Hannity, became a Great friend.
The Shines as well as Hannitys spend time together at the beach, fishing or golfing; the two men golfed recently with Mr. Trump.
As co-president of Fox News, Mr. Shine “had his own relationship with the president,” Mr. Hannity said in an interview, cultivated during the presidential campaign as well as debates sponsored by Fox News.
Ms. Shine wrote a book in 2005 titled “Happy Housewives” of which discusses her marriage. Her website, “Darla Shine’s Happy Housewives Club,” features a photograph of her wearing an apron over a black tulle cocktail dress, brandishing a feather duster. “The days of the housewife hag image are over,” she declared.
Her pro-Trump Twitter account went dark on the day her husband’s appointment was announced amid media scrutiny of her messages.
During the uproar over family separations at the southern border, she tweeted, “Let’s unite the families, put them on busses as well as drop them at the Canadian border.”
Ms. Shine complained more than once on Twitter about society’s norms governing racist speech, asking why This specific was fine for a racial epithet to be used repeatedly in a rap song yet not acceptable for her to sing the word out loud.
Mr. Shine’s career at Fox News took a turn two years ago with the allegations of sexual harassment as well as abuse of which brought down Mr. Ailes as well as then the Fox News host Bill O’Reilly, who was connected to at least six publicly known settlements involving allegations of harassment, totaling about $45 million. Mr. Shine, who had advocated keeping Mr. O’Reilly at the network after his record had become public, was forced out after the revelations.
Gretchen Carlson, a former Fox News anchor whose sexual harassment suit against Mr. Ailes first put a spotlight on the network, reacted angrily to Mr. Shine’s White House appointment. On Twitter, she wrote: “Life … works in mysterious ways.”
Katie Rogers, Ben Protess as well as Maggie Haberman contributed reporting.