The First Lady’s press secretary Michael LaRosa tried to take a date he’d just met up to his room on a secure floor while overseas in a hotel where the president was staying, insiders exclusively tell DailyMail.com.
Sources say LaRosa, 40, did it twice during the same trip while accompanying Jill Biden to the NATO Summit in Madrid, Spain, in June 2022, and that this was part of a pattern of behavior that led to his forced resignation the following month.
A Secret Service source confirmed the incident and claimed that it happened twice on the same trip.
‘He was caught by Secret Service not once, but twice bringing dates to a secure floor, obviously putting the First Lady’s safety at risk because you’re not supposed to bring people in who are not fully vetted,’ one senior White House staffer told DailyMail.com.
Michael LaRosa, Jill Biden’s former press secretary, tried to bring two dates up to a secure hotel floor where the president was staying during the 2022 NATO summit in Madrid, according to insiders
LaRosa stepped down from his position with the First Lady a month after the hotel incidents were said to have taken place. The First Lady is seen arriving to Spain ahead of the NATO Summit
The White House heaped praise on LaRosa following his departure, but privately sources said colleagues were anxious to see him go after the NATO summit
Asked about the incident, LaRosa, who is openly gay, told DailyMail.com that he had only tried to bring one person up to his room, a male staffer from another country’s delegation he said he met at the conference. He also insisted that he left the White House on good terms to take a job in the private sector.
When he left, White House officials publicly feted him for his 18 months of service in the East Wing. But privately, sources tell DailyMail.com, colleagues were anxious to see him gone with no fuss.
‘There was a long line of chaotic behavior, outbursts, unreliability, unpredictability, and lack of judgment that went into his last six months before his departure,’ one official said.
Colleagues bit their tongues for over a year, until LaRosa recently started criticizing the White House on cable news programs and social media.
Presenting himself as a former high-level staffer with deep knowledge of the inner workings of the Biden administration, he now makes regular appearances as a political commentator on MSNBC and CNN. And he hasn’t been shy about sticking his finger in the eyes of some of his old colleague as he dissects news of the day.
On Biden’s dismal poll numbers, LaRosa, a former MSNBC producer, last month blamed it on staff for not responding to smears as he called for a shakeup.
‘I’ve been a squeaky wheel for months arguing this is the wrong approach to GOP attacks on Biden’s integrity, reputation + family,’ he tweeted on Nov. 7. ‘Poll after poll validates everything I’ve been saying+writing for months. Changing his team now will look like he actually cares+sees same #’s we do.’
The gloves were off. Current and former White House colleagues say he wasn’t the insider he claims to be, was never given a ‘seat at the table’ at any high-level meetings nor was he empowered to engage in any political strategizing.
His resignation came following months of erratic behavior, including the hotel incident according to insiders
LaRosa, pictured here with Jill Biden at his farewell drinks, now works for Ballard Partners, a lobbying firm whose founder was a top fundraiser for Donald Trump
LaRosa denies he tried to take more than one date up to his room on a secure floor of the InterContinental Hotel in Madrid, Spain, during last year’s NATO summit
They say he’s now whitewashing his post-White House job experiences as well.
LaRosa is currently working for Ballard Partners, a lobbying firm whose founder was a top fundraiser for Donald Trump.
A Politico article reported in September 2022 that Ballard ‘poached’ LaRosa from his previous job with Penta Group, a consulting firm where he’d served as managing director for strategy.
However, two sources familiar with his time at Penta say he wasn’t poached. They say Penta, formerly Hamilton Place Strategies, was dissatisfied with his work output and quietly pushed him out after less than a year, and that he then scrambled to find another job, before landing with Ballard.
But it’s the way he has leveraged his experience in the White House that has proved most irksome.
‘This whole idea that he was this very senior insider and was like very close to the president or First Lady, and focused on the campaign and political strategy, that could not be farther from the truth,’ a source who served with him in the White House told DailyMail.com.
‘He was never allowed into any senior White House strategy meetings, and the way he is portraying himself for media, for Twitter, for clicks, whatever, it’s not just an eyeroll. It’s truly wrong and it’s annoying to me personally.’
Speaking exclusively with DailyMail.com, a half dozen former colleagues in the White House and the campaign said LaRosa was increasingly unreliable.
They claim he’d inexplicably disappear from work for hours, missing calls and meetings. Sources say he’d also leak information to the media, from minor tidbits about Willow, the Biden cat, to more serious disclosures such as the Covid diagnosis of the president’s daughter Ashley in May 2022.
Allegations about LaRosa’s time in the White House included that he would inexplicably disappear from work for hours, miss calls and meetings and leak information to the media
The information allegedly leaked by LaRosa to the media ranged from minor tidbits about the Bidens’ cat to the Covid diagnosis of Ashley Biden
LaRosa is now a regular on CNN and MSNBC where he hasn’t been shy about sticking his finger in the eyes of some of his old colleague as he dissects news of the day
They also described a dangerous breach in protocol that same month when LaRosa was traveling with Jill Biden on her surprise trip to war-torn Ukraine.
‘He tipped off reporters to the off the record movement into ukr, before it was announced, putting the entire trip, operation, staff, First Lady’s security at risk,’ a White House official told DailyMail.com.
‘He admitted afterward that he had tipped them off.’
They also described a trip to Connecticut where LaRosa scolded a mid-level female staffer in front of a crowd, and other occasions he’d erupt in meetings.
‘There were frequent times when he would storm out of meetings and call everybody f***ing ridiculous, and things like that,’ one White House source said.
‘He was talked to about his behavior and told you can’t yell at colleagues, that you have to modulate your temper,’ the source said.
‘The real broader problems started to come toward the end of his tenure, when he would randomly snap at people including junior staff,’ another staffer added.
‘It was clear that he was not happy, and I think he took that out on others, and it made for him not being a great colleague toward the end,’ another senior staffer said.
LaRosa admits taking a man to his hotel room in Spain where First Lady Jill Bien met the host nation’s Queen Letizia
His actions in Madrid in late June 2022 were the last straw, according to colleagues. As world leaders gathered for the NATO summit, sources say, LaRosa went out on a date then tried to bring the man in for a nightcap at the InterContinental Hotel.
Several White House sources say he met someone on a dating app and was stopped and warned by the Secret Service. They say he made a second attempt on the same trip.
‘We have a million badges, we’ve got pins, we’ve got a lot of security around the First Lady,’ one insider said. ‘And he was staying on a secure floor.
‘Even if it’s just for a platonic cup of coffee, there are serious issues with bringing someone up to a secure floor,’ the source added. ‘And the biggest thing is that he was warned and then he did it again.’
Another former colleague told DailyMail.com: ‘As someone that has traveled with the president, when you are on those trips, it is just unfathomable you would break the security bubble, especially for something like a hookup with a random person.
‘That is a deeply dangerous security faux pas.’
That was the beginning of the end of LaRosa’s tenure in the White House.
‘It wasn’t like he was fired the next day, but it was made clear to him that it was time for him to leave,’ a senior staffer said.
‘There was a deliberate effort to move him out,’ another insider told DailyMail.com.
LaRosa was allegedly warned about the risks of bringing someone up to the secure floor, but did it a second time according to four insiders who confirmed the story to DailyMail.com
His critics also hit out at the way they say LaRosa posits himself as a ‘very senior insider’ and was ‘very close to the president or First Lady’
Four sources, who worked in the White House at the time, told DailyMail.com the hotel story and that he attempted to bring someone to his room twice. But LaRosa said it was only once.
‘I did go on a date,’ he told DailyMail.com. ‘I’m a single person who brought somebody back to my room or tried to bring somebody back to my room, as embarrassing as that is to be discussing.’
LaRosa said he met the man in person, not on an app.
‘I hope I’m allowed to go on dates in my free time,’ he told DailyMail.com, laughing as he added, ‘The Secret Service, as you know, does a lot worse.’
‘We met at the conference,’ he said. ‘He worked for another country’s delegation. And we went out for drinks.’
The date was going well. After going to a tapas restaurant, they went to the hotel where he and other White House staff were staying, including the president and First Lady.
He said that his own room was on a staff floor, one below where the First Family was staying. They passed through three security checkpoints before getting stopped at about 9 p.m.
‘We had to go through a perimeter outside of the hotel, and a magnetometer to get into the hotel because the public was staying there too,’ LaRosa recalled. ‘And then when you get off the elevator, there’s another checkpoint and they let us in there fine.
When approached by DailyMail.com, LaRosa admitted to trying to bring a male staffer from another country’s delegation up to his hotel room, stating he ‘did go on a date’
Joe Biden and the leaderrs of other NATO countries agreed to increase the alliance’s support to Ukraine through a ‘comprehensive assistance package’ including non-lethal defense equipment
‘But when I got to the stairway that you go up, they just said it was too late to bring anybody up to the staff floor that I was on,’ he continued.
‘They got mad, I guess, that I tried to bring somebody up, but they didn’t say I couldn’t,’ he said.
‘They said it was too late. And I just wasn’t going to argue with them. So I was like, ‘Okay.’ We just went downstairs and had a drink in the lobby with a bunch of other people.’
‘There was no violation,’ he added. ‘Even it was twice, which it was not, we’re talking about me, an adult, going out and meeting somebody consensually for like dinner or drinks and bringing them back to a staff floor, which is done all the time, and frequently, whether it’s family or whoever.’
Chief of Staff Anthony Bernal is the one known to have tirades, LaRosa claimed, not him
LaRosa also disputed other claims raised by former colleagues.
Regarding an allegation that he’d frequently leak information to the press, he disputed the three cited examples.
He denied tipping off reporters about the trip into Ukraine, saying, ‘As proven, nothing was ever leaked out.’
He said he did share some intel on the cat – which had been living in his apartment – but that it was off the record and didn’t appear in a news story until long after he left the White House.
On the Covid revelation, he again said the chief of staff Bernal authorized him to share the news. He acknowledged that the West Wing was indeed furious, apparently not informed in advance that he would be releasing the information.
‘I was told to announce it,’ he told DailyMail.com, and said shortly after the disclosure, ‘I got angry messages from the West Wing that they didn’t get a heads up.’
As for claims about his alleged shouting at staff, he admitted shouting at a staffer in Connecticut, saying he’d yelled at the First Lady’s digital director near New Haven when he opposed stopping at an ice cream store, where she ended up getting up getting jeered by protesters.
He said that, if anything, Bernal was the one known for having tirades.
‘If you do a simple Google search on our office, the culture was instilled,’ he said. ‘If you Google Anthony Bernal, you’ll get a flavor of the culture of that office, meaning people in the White House and on the campaign were recording conversations with Anthony because he was abusive and a bully. That wasn’t me.’
‘I wasn’t scared of him, but we had a relationship where we were roommates on the campaign. He hired me, he found me, he brought me on as an outsider, which was resented by a lot of people who were there before me.’
Bernal did not respond to calls and messages left by DailyMail.com.
Vanessa Valdivia, the First Lady’s current press secretary, said, ‘We don’t comment on personnel matters, but Michael’s characterization about his time at the White House is wildly inaccurate.’
A White House official, responding to LaRosa’s comments about Bernal and the workplace culture said, ‘The characterizations he (LaRosa) made about the First Lady’s office and his former colleague Anthony Bernal are not true.
‘Bernal is widely respected across the White House and many people in the First Lady’s office have worked with him for years.’
LaRosa said he ultimately decided to leave on his own, wanting to join the private sector. He said he’d interviewed with Penta Group in mid-June, days before the Madrid trip. He left at the end of July.
‘I left because I got a job offer,’ he said.
He told DailyMail.com that he was later invited back to the White House for a champagne toast in September 2022 and to a Christmas party last year where he said he had ‘one on one time’ with Jill Biden.
He conceded his stint at Penta was brief but said he wasn’t forced out of that job either. He said he left on his own, without anything else lined up. He later took a job with Ballard. He wasn’t ‘poached,’ as had been reported in an article he now shares atop his LinkedIn page.
LaRosa also said he’s never tried to inflate his experience. He served as press secretary to Jill Biden and special assistant to the president, jobs he downplayed in his interview with DailyMail.com.
‘I was a run of the mill staffer and I feel like it’s not that interesting,’ he said. ‘I’m being made out to be more than what I am.’
LaRosa’s disclosures about both Ashley Biden and Willow the First Feline irke his colleagues in the White House
LaRosa claimed those briefing against him are angry about his criticism of how the Biden administration has handled the Hunter Biden scandal
He said he’s upset but not shocked this story would come out now, blaming it on the fact he’s been critical of the administration, including how it’s dealt with Hunter Biden and his sketchy foreign business dealings.
‘I’ve been the only one out there defending Hunter and saying the White House should be more aggressive in defending him,’ LaRosa told DailyMail.com.
‘It’s very clear that I’ve been a big advocate for Hunter, and their strategy has always been to downplay the Hunter stuff. So they haven’t been happy with me about that.’
‘I guess they’re mad that I can be critical sometimes of the strategy for the president and the campaign staff,’ he continued.
‘They want to do things to try to make me stop talking or going on TV or saying things in print that are critical. I get it, it comes with the territory when you try to be objective instead of a knee jerk partisan.
‘Washington’s a tough place. But I’m a really small fish in the pond, I would think. I don’t know why they care so much what I say.’