Is Trump Trying to Push Priebus Out the Door?
With the hiring of Anthony Scaramucci as White House director of communications, the resignation of Press Secretary Sean Spicer, and the change-up in President Trump’s legal team, it’s clear that the president means to finally make good on some of the internal shakeups that have been reported for months. Those changes may even extend to the Justice Department; Trump’s criticisms of Jeff Sessions in a recent New York Times interview caused many pundits to speculate on how long the attorney general would remain in the job. For now, Sessions seems content to grin and bear it and it may be Trump’s patience with Robert Mueller’s investigation that determines how long he stays in the role.
But there’s another White House staffer who has seemingly been on the chopping block since inauguration day, and a new report from Axios indicates that Trump has had just about enough of him.
From the report:
A much-discussed question at the top of the White House: just what magnitude of indignity would it take for Chief of Staff Reince Priebus to resign?
President Trump knew that appointing Anthony Scaramucci as communications director would humiliate Reince, who fought hard against it.
Scaramucci was smuggled into the meeting with the President on Thursday so Reince wouldn’t know about it. Trump had already taken pains to hide the discussions from his Chief of Staff, knowing Reince would try to foil the move.
Trump also knew that inserting a line in the press release saying Scaramucci would report directly to the President — doing an end-run around Reince — was perhaps an unendurable public humiliation.
And according to a new report in Politico, Priebus is quickly losing control of the White House he is nominally in charge of. Scaramucci has already made it clear that he reports directly to President Trump – not the chief of staff – and Spicer was the third “Priebus guy” to be pushed out of the administration since January. Increasingly, the former head of the RNC is alone on an island, comforted only by Chief Strategist Steve Bannon, who has reportedly aligned himself with Priebus in an effort to limit the power of Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner.
“His strength was in his people,” a White House adviser told Politico, referencing Priebus. “He didn’t have personal clout, he had organizational clout, so losing another staffer is eroding his organizational clout.”
Well, we had doubts about the Spicer/Priebus team from the beginning. Trump ran a campaign that was, in many ways, as much about overturning the Republican establishment as it was about rolling back the Obama/Clinton agenda. Then he surrounds himself with two of the biggest establishment figures in the party? It never quite made sense, and that incongruity has been reflected in the administration’s inability to fight off a hostile press and pass legislation through Congress. From what we’ve seen so far, Scaramucci – his early opposition to Trump aside – seems to be much nearer to the Trump “page” than these holdovers from the RNC. He gets it. His loyalty is to the president, not to the Republican Party, and that’s exactly what Trump needs right now.