WHITE HOUSE

EM­BAT­TLED PRIEBUS OUSTED AS TRUMP CHIEF OF STAFF.

National Post (National Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - TOLUSE OLORUNNIPA AND MAR­GARET TALEV

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump re­placed his be­lea­guered chief of staff on Fri­day, cap­ping a week of in­ter­nal civil war in the White House.

The ouster of Reince Priebus came only days af­ter the ap­point­ment of Trump’s new com­mu­ni­ca­tions di­rec­tor, An­thony Scara­mucci — a move that saw fac­tional fight­ing be­hind the scenes ex­plode into pub­lic view.

In typ­i­cal Trump style, the pres­i­dent an­nounced on Twit­ter that he had ap­pointed Home­land Se­cu­rity Sec­re­tary John Kelly to the job.

“He is a Great Amer­i­can and a Great Leader. John has also done a spec­tac­u­lar job at Home­land Se­cu­rity. He has been a true star of my Ad­min­is­tra­tion,” said Trump.

Trump was aboard Air Force One as his tweets were is­sued. “Reince is a good man,” Trump told reporters as he left the air­craft. “Sec­re­tary Kelly is a star, and he’ll do a good job.”

White House press sec­re­tary Sean Spicer re­signed last week af­ter Scara­mucci was hired. Spicer and Priebus were friends and al­lies, hav­ing worked to­gether at the Repub­li­can Na­tional Com­mit­tee be­fore join­ing the White House.

Priebus leaves the White House af­ter less than seven months as Trump’s top ad­viser. His de­par­ture comes af­ter Trump lost a ma­jor leg­isla­tive bat­tle early Fri­day when the Se­nate failed to pass leg­is­la­tion re­peal­ing Oba­macare.

Spicer and Priebus came from the Repub­li­can es­tab­lish­ment and were out­siders, to a de­gree, in a White House Trump won on his cre­den­tials as a po­lit­i­cal maverick.

The for­mer Repub­li­can Na­tional Com­mit­tee chair­man strug­gled to nav­i­gate an ad­min­is­tra­tion riven with con­flict, where top aides must com­pete with the pres­i­dent’s daugh­ter and son-in-law for in­flu­ence. Peo­ple close to Trump had largely blamed the chief of staff for the White House’s trou­bles in Congress, where the pres­i­dent has yet to se­cure a ma­jor leg­isla­tive vic­tory.

Priebus had also op­posed the hir­ing of Scara­mucci, but the new press di­rec­tor soon made it clear that he only an­swered to the pres­i­dent rather than the chief of staff.

On Thurs­day, Scara­mucci ap­peared on CNN and all but ac­cused Priebus of be­ing the source of dam­ag­ing leaks.

Hours later, a New Yorker re­porter pub­lished de­tails of a tele­phone con­ver­sa­tion dur­ing which Scara­mucci threat­ened to fire his own com­mu­ni­ca­tions team as he searched for White House moles.

He also de­liv­ered a pro­fan­ity-laden de­scrip­tion of Priebus as a “para­noid schiz­o­phrenic” and said he would soon be asked to re­sign.

Ob­servers pointed out that Scara­mucci, nick­named The Mooch, had been chan­nelling his boss.

“The Mooch is a New Yorker like me,” Ru­dolph Gi­u­liani, the city’s for­mer mayor and an ad­viser to Trump told The New York Times.

Scara­mucci em­bod­ied the pres­i­dent’s “in­ten­sity and can-do spirit,” he said. “He’s a pure­bred New Yorker. He’s lit a fire­cracker in that place. What you’re see­ing in Scara­mucci is the pres­i­dent’s style.”

Rich Galen, a Repub­li­can strate­gist, said Priebus’s big­gest weak­ness was that his sur­name was not Trump or Kush­ner.

“With­out that, I think he is al­ways one eye­brow raise from Trump away from hav­ing his stuff in card­board boxes on the front of the White House lawn,” he said, be­fore Priebus was ousted.

He added that chief of staff was al­ways a de­mand­ing job — at the cen­tre of a web con­nect­ing the Pen­tagon, State Depart­ment, other agen­cies and Congress — even with­out the ad­di­tional chaos of Trump’s man­age­ment style.

“I think it’s go­ing to be a ro­tat­ing job. I don’t think any­one can last six or seven months in that role be­cause you can’t con­trol the work flow or the pa­per flow,” he said.

Mean­while, Kelly has formed a bond with the pres­i­dent over re­cent months that was for­ti­fied when he ag­gres­sively de­fended the travel ban pol­icy and has only grown stronger since then, with Trump telling aides that he sees Kelly as some­one who du­ti­fully fol­lows through on his agenda and does not ever cause him prob­lems, ac­cord­ing to two White House of­fi­cials.

One out­side Trump ad­viser said that the pres­i­dent was drawn to the dis­ci­pline that Kelly and his other ad­vis­ers who are for­mer mil­i­tary of­fi­cers bring to their roles.

Kelly has a warm rap­port with White House chief strate­gist Stephen Ban­non, who has worked closely with him on shap­ing the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s bor­der en­force­ment pol­icy. They have built a con­nec­tion over their fam­i­lies’ mil­i­tary ser­vice. Ban­non, a for­mer Navy of­fi­cer, has a daugh­ter who grad­u­ated from the U.S. Mil­i­tary Academy at West Point.

Kelly is also well liked by Trump’s son-in-law and se­nior ad­viser Jared Kush­ner, who sees him as a sta­ble pres­ence with a low key per­son­al­ity. Kush­ner has de­scribed him to as­so­ciates as the kind of fig­ure he’d like to see have more say in the ad­min­is­tra­tion.

Kelly’s rep­u­ta­tion and abil­ity to work with both wings of a war­ring West Wing made the de­ci­sion eas­ier for Trump, the of­fi­cials said.

John Kelly

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