New chief of staff as­serts his au­thor­ity

John Kelly re­moves An­thony Scara­mucci, as the White House tur­bu­lence con­tin­ues.

Los Angeles Times - - FRONT PAGE - By Brian Ben­nett and Noah Bier­man

WASH­ING­TON — An­thony Scara­mucci, the brash New Yorker who was an­nounced just 10 days ago as Pres­i­dent Trump’s in­com­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tions di­rec­tor, was ousted on Mon­day as new White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly moved quickly to ex­ert con­trol over a chaotic ad­min­is­tra­tion.

Kelly pulled Scara­mucci aside shortly af­ter 9:30 a.m. and told him he was out of the job that he hadn’t yet of­fi­cially as­sumed, ac­cord­ing to a per­son close to the White House. That was just af­ter Kelly, the for­mer Home­land Se­cu­rity sec­re­tary, was sworn in as chief of staff to re­place the dis­placed Reince Priebus — and a few hours af­ter Trump had tweeted “No WH chaos!”

While Scara­mucci’s time at the cen­ter of the pres­i­dent’s cir­cle was short, it was con­se­quen­tial, prompt­ing Priebus’ de­par­ture on Fri­day and, a week be­fore that, Sean Spicer’s res­ig­na­tion as White House press sec­re­tary. Scara­mucci also pushed out an as­sis­tant press sec­re­tary, Michael Short, who re­signed last week af­ter Scara­mucci ac­cused him of leak­ing.

Both Priebus and Spicer had coun­seled Trump against nam­ing Scara­mucci, given what they con­sid­ered his un­suit­abil­ity for the job.

In a sign of the breakneck speed at which the White House tur­moil is play­ing out, Scara­mucci had not even of­fi­cially be­gun his job when he was forced out, while Spicer, the man he re­placed, had not ac­tu­ally left yet since he had agreed to help with the tran­si­tion.

Scara­mucci, a for­mer hedge fund ex­ec­u­tive who en­joyed the lime­light, had come on strong in his brief ten­ure, which was high­lighted by a pro­fane tirade against Priebus and White

House strategist Stephen K. Ban­non in an ex­change last week with a re­porter for the New Yorker mag­a­zine.

In a state­ment an­nounc­ing the devel­op­ment, the White House said Scara­mucci “felt it was best to give Chief of Staff John Kelly a clean slate and the abil­ity to build his own team.”

In re­cent days, Scara­mucci, known as “the Mooch,” seemed to revel in a new nick­name, Trump’s “Mini-Me,” that was in wide cir­cu­la­tion and re­flected their sim­i­lar­i­ties as out­spo­ken and some­times foul­mouthed wheeler-deal­ers from New York.

Yet Press Sec­re­tary Sarah Huck­abee San­ders said Trump took is­sue with Scara­mucci’s con­duct and “found it in­ap­pro­pri­ate for a per­son in that po­si­tion.”

The abrupt shift, how­ever, seemed to re­flect Kelly’s ar­rival. The mis­sion for the re­tired Marine gen­eral is to bring or­der to the chain of com­mand within the White House; cut­ting Scara­mucci was re­port­edly a con­di­tion for his tak­ing the chief of staff job.

That change amounted to un­do­ing Trump’s own hir­ing de­ci­sion. Scara­mucci pub­licly said he would re­port di­rectly to the pres­i­dent, al­though com­mu­ni­ca­tions di­rec­tors typ­i­cally re­port to the chief of staff like ev­ery­one else on staff.

San­ders con­firmed Kelly’s power, one that Priebus didn’t en­joy: “Gen. Kelly has the full au­thor­ity to op­er­ate within the White House and all staff will re­port to him.”

The White House dec­la­ra­tion of full au­thor­ity in Kelly’s hands poses a ma­jor test for Trump, who has re­sisted nu­mer­ous at­tempts at im­pos­ing struc­ture since the early days of his pres­i­den­tial cam­paign.

How Trump con­ducts him­self, in­clud­ing whether he lim­its his fre­quent and of­ten sur­pris­ing posts on Twit­ter, will de­ter­mine as much as any­thing how well Kelly can man­age the ad­min­is­tra­tion — and, if Kelly can’t, how long he is will­ing to stay in the job.

Scara­mucci’s sack­ing, in the wake of the other re­cent res­ig­na­tions and spec­u­la­tion about the fates of Ban­non, Atty. Gen. Jeff Ses­sions and na­tional se­cu­rity ad­vi­sor H.R. McMaster, re­flects a mo­ment of ex­treme tur­bu­lence in the White House. The staff has been em­broiled in in­fight­ing as fac­tions strug­gle to re­spond to Trump’s low poll num­bers, a floun­der­ing leg­isla­tive agenda and the in­ves­ti­ga­tions into Rus­sian elec­tion med­dling, pos­si­ble Trump cam­paign col­lu­sion and ob­struc­tion of jus­tice by the pres­i­dent.

Be­fore com­ing to the White House a week and a half ago, Scara­mucci had been ap­pointed to a se­nior role at the Ex­port-Im­port Bank, a rel­a­tively ob­scure agency, but he won’t be re­turn­ing to that job.

“He does not have a role at this time in the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion,” San­ders said.

Kelly’s in­flu­ence might have been at work in another per­son­nel mat­ter — stem­ming spec­u­la­tion about whether Trump would re­move his at­tor­ney gen­eral.

San­ders, who last week re­peat­edly de­clined to say whether Ses­sions had the pres­i­dent’s full con­fi­dence, in her Mon­day brief­ing re­sponded to a ques­tion on Ses­sions’ job sta­tus by re­ply­ing that Trump had “100% con­fi­dence” in all of his Cab­i­net sec­re­taries.

Trump him­self said “time will tell” when he was asked last week about Ses­sions. The pres­i­dent has called Ses­sions “be­lea­guered” and even “very weak,” and pub­licly has said that his frus­tra­tion with Ses­sions, once among his clos­est al­lies, stems from Ses­sions’ de­ci­sion to re­cuse him­self from the Rus­sia in­ves­ti­ga­tion, an act that led to the ap­point­ment of a special coun­sel.

San­ders also bat­ted down re­ports that the White House was dis­cussing mov­ing Ses­sions to head the Depart­ment of Home­land Se­cu­rity, the job made va­cant by Kelly’s move to the White House.

San­ders said the White House has had “no con­ver­sa­tions” about any Cab­i­net mem­bers switch­ing jobs.

Repub­li­can sen­a­tors have pub­licly op­posed fir­ing Ses­sions, and a cou­ple have ob­jected to shift­ing him to another post as well, given that it could ap­pear that Trump is try­ing to af­fect the in­ves­ti­ga­tions of him­self and his cam­paign in the con­text of Rus­sia’s elec­tion in­ter­fer­ence.

Af­ter word spread of Scara­mucci’s ouster, Spicer, who de­spite his res­ig­na­tion had stayed on to help with the tran­si­tion for his re­place­ment, walked out of his of­fice to a throng of re­porters.

“Is this a sur­prise party?” he asked.

Trump him­self seemed pleased with how things had un­folded. At 6:19 p.m., the pres­i­dent wrote on Twit­ter: “A great day at the White House!”

Pablo Martinez Monsi­vais AP

THE TEN­URE of in­com­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tions di­rec­tor An­thony Scara­mucci lasted just 10 days.

Win McNamee Getty Images

NEW CHIEF OF STAFF John F. Kelly, left, con­fers with Trea­sury Sec­re­tary Steven T. Mnuchin. The mis­sion for the re­tired Marine gen­eral is to bring or­der to the White House chain of com­mand. Fir­ing Scara­mucci was re­port­edly a con­di­tion for his tak­ing the job.

Pablo Martinez Monsi­vais Associated Press

AN­THONY SCARA­MUCCI with re­porters last week. In a state­ment, the White House said Scara­mucci “felt it was best to give Chief of Staff John Kelly a clean slate and the abil­ity to build his own team.”

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