Scara­mucci out as a new chief of staff takes reins

Trump fires spin doc­tor after just 10 days

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

Foul-mouthed spin doc­tor An­thony Scara­mucci was axed as White House com­mu­ni­ca­tions di­rec­tor Mon­day, just 10 days after being named to the post and hours after Don­ald Trump in­stalled a new chief of staff. The 53-year-old New Yorker—whose pro­fan­ity— laden rant against col­leagues gained him global no­to­ri­ety—was fired as four-star general John Kelly be­gan his quest to im­pose or­der on an ad­min­is­tra­tion ca­reen­ing out of con­trol.

Dur­ing its first six months in of­fice, Trump’s White House has been be­set by scan­dal, in­ves­ti­ga­tions, in­fight­ing, leaks, sack­ings, res­ig­na­tions, sting­ing leg­isla­tive de­feats and his­tor­i­cally low ap­proval rat­ings. Scara­mucci was brought in a lit­tle over a week ago to get the White House back on mes­sage, but quickly prompted neg­a­tive head­lines of his own. He pub­licly called then col­league and chief of staff Reince Priebus—who was forced out last week—a “para­noid schiz­o­phrenic” and de­nounced chief White House strate­gist Steve Ban­non in lurid sex­ual terms.

The White House re­fused to say whether it was Trump or Kelly who pre­cip­i­tated Scara­mucci’s shock de­par­ture, but it seems clear that both were un­happy with his pres­ence. “The pres­i­dent firmly felt that An­thony’s com­ments were in­ap­pro­pri­ate for a per­son in that po­si­tion,” said White House spokes­woman Sarah Huck­abee San­ders. San­ders added that ev­ery­one in the West Wing-in­clud­ing Scara­mucci — re­ported to Kelly, a re­turn to tra­di­tion for a White House that has been any­thing but.

“General Kelly has the full au­thor­ity to op­er­ate within the White House, and all staff will re­port to him,” said San­ders. “That in­cludes every­body at the White House.” Kelly in­her­its the day-to-day run­ning of an ad­min­is­tra­tion that-far from march­ing in lock­step-looks like a reg­i­ment pinned down by heavy fire, get­ting con­flict­ing or­ders from their com­man­der and squab­bling over the way forward.

In pre­vi­ous ad­min­is­tra­tions, the chief of staff has acted as a chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer: or­ga­niz­ing staff, man­ag­ing the pres­i­dent’s sched­ule and de­cid­ing who gets ac­cess to him when. In Trump’s White House, a ro­tat­ing cast of fam­ily and staff with un­clear roles and opaque job ti­tles seemed to be able to walk into the Oval Of­fice at will or get the pres­i­dent’s ear. De­spite Kelly’s ap­par­ent em­pow­er­ment, many ques­tion whether any­one can rein in the mer­cu­rial, Twit­ter-happy Trump, who has ap­peared to en­cour­age the in­fight­ing among var­i­ous fac­tions vy­ing for in­flu­ence in his ad­min­is­tra­tion.

All the pres­i­dent’s gen­er­als

After an Oval Of­fice swear­ing-in cer­e­mony be­fore the af­ter­noon the­atrics, Trump con­fi­dently pre­dicted Kelly, a 67-year-old com­bat vet­eran, would do a “spec­tac­u­lar job.” “I pre­dict that General Kelly will go down as, in terms of the po­si­tion of chief of staff, one of the great(est) ever,” Trump said. “What he has done in terms of home­land se­cu­rity is record-shat­ter­ing, if you look at the border, if you look at the tremen­dous re­sults we’ve had.”

Kelly re­places Priebus, a Repub­li­can Party op­er­a­tive who was ousted last week after the spec­tac­u­lar fail­ure of Trump’s bid to re­peal Oba­macare and as his ugly feud with Scara­mucci spilled into the open. It was not im­me­di­ately clear who would re­place Scara­mucci. For­mer spokesman Sean Spicer, who re­signed a lit­tle over a week ago, re­fused to com­ment on whether he will now re­main in the White House be­yond his planned Au­gust de­par­ture.

No chaos

Ear­lier in the day, Trump-ever de­ter­mined to project suc­cess-in­sisted Mon­day that there was no “chaos” at the White House, which he said was run­ning as a finely tuned ma­chine. “I think we’re do­ing in­cred­i­bly well. The econ­omy is do­ing in­cred­i­bly well, and many other things. So we’re start­ing from a re­ally good base,” he told a cab­i­net meet­ing. But aside from the econ­omy, there has been lit­tle rea­son for Trump to cheer.

Un­der pres­sure from a widen­ing probe into his cam­paign’s contacts with Rus­sia last year, Trump last week pub­licly shamed his own at­tor­ney general Jeff Ses­sions for dis­loy­alty, alarm­ing his con­ser­va­tive base, be­fore turn­ing on Priebus. In an­other tweet Mon­day, Trump hinted that Con­gress’s own health in­sur­ance plan should be re­placed for its fail­ure to re­peal Oba­macare, his pre­de­ces­sor’s sig­na­ture re­form of the US health care sys­tem.

“If Oba­macare is hurt­ing peo­ple & it is, why shouldn’t it hurt the in­sur­ance com­pa­nies and why should Con­gress not be pay­ing what pub­lic pays?” he wrote. The bil­lion­aire Repub­li­can has parted ways with a num­ber of top of­fi­cials be­yond Priebus and Scara­mucci, in­clud­ing his na­tional se­cu­rity ad­vi­sor, deputy na­tional se­cu­rity ad­vi­sor and FBI di­rec­tor, among oth­ers-an un­par­al­leled turnover for such a young pres­i­dency. On the global stage, Trump faces the stark chal­lenge of a North Korea that could be on the verge of mar­ry­ing nu­clear and bal­lis­tic mis­sile tech­nol­ogy. “We’ll han­dle North Korea. We’re go­ing to be able to han­dle them. It will be han­dled. We han­dle ev­ery­thing. Thank you very much,” Trump said. —AFP

NEW YORK: In this July 28, 2017 photo, White House com­mu­ni­ca­tions di­rec­tor An­thony Scara­mucci walks down the steps of Air Force One after ar­riv­ing at Long Is­land MacArthur Air­port. —AP

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