Priebus pushed out af­ter rocky ten­ure

Miami Herald - - FRONT PAGE -

to be on the edge of ouster, Priebus saw his fate fi­nally sealed a week ago when Trump hired Scara­mucci, an edgy Wall Street fi­nancier, over the chief of staff’s ob­jec­tions. Priebus’ ally, Sean Spicer, the press sec­re­tary, re­signed in protest.

More than just a per­son­nel dis­pute, the dis­agree­ment sug­gested a broader cleav­age that would lead to Priebus’ res­ig­na­tion. In tap­ping Scara­mucci, Trump was turn­ing to a wealthy New Yorker who had be­come part of his in­ner cir­cle, and who com­pen­sated in charisma and rap­port with Trump and his fam­ily for what he lacked in gov­ern­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

Priebus rep­re­sented a more con­ven­tional breed of se­nior White House fig­ure, cho­sen by the pres­i­dent de­spite a ca­reer de­fined by the cal­cu­la­tions of tra­di­tional Repub­li­can Party pol­i­tics, which Trump re­gards as part of “the swamp” he was elected to drain.

Priebus and Spicer had told the pres­i­dent they be­lieved Scara­mucci, a gre­gar­i­ous hedge fund man­ager and fundraiser, lacked the po­lit­i­cal ex­pe­ri­ence and or­ga­ni­za­tional skills re­quired to serve in the role of com­mu­ni­ca­tions di­rec­tor. In the end, how­ever, those warn­ings fell on deaf ears and fur­ther soured Trump, who al­most from the start sug­gested both pub­licly and pri­vately that the job of his chief of staff was not safe.

Scara­mucci made clear when he was hired that he re­ported not to Priebus but di­rectly to the pres­i­dent and by Wed­nes­day night was pub­licly sug­gest­ing that the chief of staff was a leaker and even threat­ened to seek an FBI in­ves­ti­ga­tion. On Thurs­day, he went on tele­vi­sion and dared Priebus to deny leak­ing and de­scribed the two of them as Cain and Abel, the bi­b­li­cal broth­ers whose ri­valry re­sults in one killing the other.

On Thurs­day even­ing, the New Yorker posted an in­ter­view with Scara­mucci that in­cluded a vul­gar­ity-laced tirade against Priebus. He called Priebus a “para­noid schiz­o­phrenic, a para­noiac,” who leaked in­for­ma­tion against him and vowed to get him fired. “He’ll be asked to re­sign very shortly,” Scara­mucci said.

As party chair­man last year, Priebus was slow to em­brace Trump’s can­di­dacy, and the pres­i­dent, who some­times called him “Reincey” in pri­vate, never let his chief of staff for­get it. Trump had of­ten joked about his chief of staff’s long-term loy­alty and liked re­mind­ing the peo­ple around him that Priebus sug­gested that he con­sider drop­ping out af­ter the “Ac­cess Hol­ly­wood” tape of Trump’s crude re­marks about women was made pub­lic in Oc­to­ber.

A na­tive of Kenosha, Wis­con­sin, Priebus rose through the ranks of the Repub­li­can Party to be his state’s chair­man, amass­ing power by es­tab­lish­ing re­la­tion­ships with party donors and be­com­ing an ef­fec­tive op­er­a­tor within the na­tional party, which he was cho­sen to lead in 2011. One of his top al­lies was a fel­low Repub­li­can from Wis­con­sin, House Speaker Paul D. Ryan, who pub­licly de­fended Priebus on Thurs­day when no one in the White House would.

With many for­mer mem­bers of Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush’s ad­min­is­tra­tion un­will­ing to work for a pres­i­dent they re­gard as un­qual­i­fied or black­balled be­cause of their op­po­si­tion to Trump’s can­di­dacy last year, Priebus staffed the West Wing with an as­sort­ment of Repub­li­can vet­er­ans and some of his core staff at the RNC, in­clud­ing his for­mer deputy, Katie Walsh. But the as­sim­i­la­tion of the RNC into the West Wing was fraught and Walsh and oth­ers de­parted.

Jared Kush­ner, the pres­i­dent’s son-in-law and se­nior ad­viser, soured on Priebus, partly be­cause of what he viewed as Spicer’s short­com­ings. Other se­nior ad­vis­ers bris­tled at his de­meanor or sus­pected he was un­der­min­ing him. An al­liance of con­ve­nience with Stephen K. Ban­non, the na­tion­al­ist and de­cid­edly anti-es­tab­lish­ment chief strate­gist, seemed to fade in re­cent weeks.

The jock­ey­ing to re­place Priebus got un­der­way even be­fore his demise was of­fi­cial. Many of Scara­mucci’s col­leagues as­sumed he wanted the job, but he would have been con­tro­ver­sial not just be­cause of his foul-mouthed rant that in­cluded a vul­gar at­tack on Ban­non.

Orig­i­nally a sharp critic of Trump as a can­di­date, he do­nated to and voted for Democrats like Pres­i­dent Barack Obama and sup­ported gun con­trol, abor­tion rights and same-sex mar­riage, op­posed the death penalty and crit­i­cized those who call cli­mate change a hoax.

Some of Trump’s long­time sup­port­ers also pub­licly ques­tioned his in­ter­est in Kelly. “The pres­i­dent needs some­one who un­der­stands the Trump con­stituency as his chief of staff, some­one who has both ad­min­is­tra­tive skills and po­lit­i­cal savvy,” said Roger Stone, Trump’s off and on ad­viser.

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