EMBATTLED PRIEBUS OUSTED AS TRUMP CHIEF OF STAFF.
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.