Scara­mucci rails against ri­vals in the West Wing

Miami Herald - - FRONT PAGE -

an­other layer of drama and dis­sent to a White House suf­fused in it — and re­vived the per­pet­ual ques­tions about Priebus’ fate. Sean Spicer, the White House press sec­re­tary and an ally of Priebus, re­signed in protest when Scara­mucci was hired last week be­cause, he pre­dicted, it would only add more chaos to the team. On that, at least, he seems to have been proved right.

But Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump not only tol­er­ates feuds within his team, he fu­els them, play­ing one courtier off an­other and leav­ing them all un­steady. He chooses fa­vorites and casts oth­ers aside, but even those de­ci­sions seem sub­ject to change at any moody mo­ment. And by sev­eral ac­counts, he per­son­ally en­cour­aged Scara­mucci’s ji­had against Priebus, once again sub­ject­ing his chief of staff to a rit­u­al­is­tic pub­lic lash­ing even as he con­sid­ered push­ing him out.

Left to ex­plain all this was Sarah Huck­abee San­ders, the new White House press sec­re­tary. “This is a White House that has lots of dif­fer­ent per­spec­tives be­cause the pres­i­dent hires the very best peo­ple,” she said gamely, be­fore the New Yorker ar­ti­cle posted, as­sert­ing that a “healthy com­pe­ti­tion” ben­e­fits Trump. “With that com­pe­ti­tion, you usu­ally get the best re­sults. The pres­i­dent likes that kind of com­pe­ti­tion and en­cour­ages it.”

That kind of com­pe­ti­tion has ex­hausted even some of Trump’s most loyal de­fend­ers. But Trump has openly told peo­ple that he has lost faith in Priebus. He has said he wants “a gen­eral” as chief of staff, and has fo­cused on John F. Kelly, the re­tired fourstar Marine now serv­ing as home­land se­cu­rity sec­re­tary. Many of his ad­vis­ers, how­ever, con­sider that a bad idea.

Scara­mucci, who has so em­u­lated Trump’s style that col­leagues pri­vately call him “Mini-Me,” made clear in his con­ver­sa­tion with The New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza that he is try­ing to push Priebus out. “Reince is a fuck­ing para­noid schiz­o­phrenic, a para­noiac,” he said. Scara­mucci com­plained that Priebus had pre­vented him from get­ting a job in the White House un­til now, say­ing he “blocked Scara­mucci for six months.”

In the same tele­phone call, Scara­mucci dis­par­aged Ban­non. “I’m not Steve Ban­non. I’m not try­ing to suck my own cock,” he said. “I’m not try­ing to build my own brand” on the pres­i­dent’s coat­tails.

“I’m here to serve the coun­try,” he added.

Lately Trump has re­sumed sub­ject­ing Priebus to fre­quent in­dig­ni­ties in front of White House staff. Ac­cord­ing to one aide, the pres­i­dent, who had ceased for a time, has reg­u­larly men­tioned how Priebus sug­gested that Trump con­sider drop­ping out of the pres­i­den­tial race last Oc­to­ber af­ter a tape of him boast­ing about grab­bing women by the gen­i­tals emerged. “Do you re­mem­ber when Reince did that?” the pres­i­dent has asked as­so­ciates.

Priebus en­dured the haz­ing in si­lence, as he gen­er­ally has, and the White House did noth­ing to de­fend him against Scara­mucci’s tirade. Scara­mucci re­leased a state­ment af­ter the New Yorker ar­ti­cle was pub­lished that fell well short of an apol­ogy.

“I some­times use col­or­ful lan­guage,” he said on Twit­ter. “I will re­frain in this arena but not give up the pas­sion­ate fight for @Re­alDon­aldTrump’s agenda.”

The clash be­tween Scara­mucci and Priebus of­fers a case study in how the Trump White House op­er­ates, a con­flict di­vorced from facts, un­teth­ered from the ba­sics of how govern­ment works, en­abled by the lack of any or­ga­ni­za­tional struc­ture and driven by am­bi­tion, fear, an­i­mos­ity and envy.

The ge­n­e­sis was a din­ner hosted Wed­nes­day night by Trump at the White House that in­cluded Scara­mucci, Sean Han­nity and Kim­berly Guil­foyle, the Fox News hosts, and Bill Shine, a for­mer Fox ex­ec­u­tive.

Guil­foyle told the pres­i­dent that Priebus was a prob­lem and a leaker, some­one who was not serv­ing his agenda, ac­cord­ing to a per­son briefed on the con­ver­sa­tion. (A Fox spokesman did not re­spond to a re­quest for com­ment.)

Scara­mucci grew an­gry that Lizza had learned that the din­ner was tak­ing place and that Politico had ob­tained his govern­ment fi­nan­cial dis­clo­sure form. At that point, he called Lizza, de­mand­ing to know his source, whom the re­porter re­fused to di­vulge.

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