Trump ousts me­dia di­rec­tor

Scara­mucci di­a­tribe said to be cause

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - FRONT PAGE -

WASH­ING­TON — Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump on Mon­day re­moved An­thony Scara­mucci from his po­si­tion as com­mu­ni­ca­tions di­rec­tor, the White House an­nounced, oust­ing him just days af­ter Scara­mucci un­loaded a ver­bal tirade against other se­nior mem­bers of the pres­i­dent’s staff.

“An­thony Scara­mucci will be leav­ing his role as White House Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Di­rec­tor,” Sarah Huck­abee San­ders, the White House press sec­re­tary, said in a state­ment. “Mr. Scara­mucci felt it was best to give Chief of Staff John Kelly a clean slate and the abil­ity to build his own team. We wish him all the best.”

Scara­mucci’s abrupt re­moval came just 10 days af­ter the wealthy New York fi­nancier joined the West Wing staff, a move that led to the de­par­tures of Sean Spicer, the for­mer press sec­re­tary, and Reince Priebus, the pres­i­dent’s first chief of staff.

The de­ci­sion to re­move Scara­mucci be­came pub­lic as Kelly, who re­placed Priebus, be­gan his first day in charge of the White House staff. He was said to have told aides gath­ered in early-morn­ing staff meet­ings that he in­tended to im­pose a new sense of or­der and op­er­a­tional dis­ci­pline that had been ab­sent un­der his pre­de­ces­sor.

Scara­mucci had boasted about re­port­ing di­rectly to the pres­i­dent, not the chief of staff. But the de­ci­sion to re­move him came at Kelly’s re­quest, ac­cord­ing to two peo­ple with knowl­edge of the de­ci­sion.

Over the week­end, Kelly was said to have told as­so­ciates that he was dis­mayed by Scara­mucci’s re­marks. Re­mov­ing him from the com­mu­ni­ca­tions post was not in­tended to be per­sonal, but rather an ef­fort to change the cul­ture of the White House and to sig­nal to staff that their com­ments al­ways re­flect on the pres­i­dent.

It was not clear whether Scara­mucci will re­main at the White House in another po­si­tion or will leave al­to­gether. The White House had orig­i­nally said his of­fi­cial start date as a gov­ern­ment em­ployee was to be Aug. 15, though he ap­peared to be­gin per­form­ing his du­ties im­me­di­ately.

Scara­mucci’s al­lies floated the idea of Scara­mucci re­turn­ing to his chief strat­egy of­fi­cer post at the Ex­port-Im­port Bank, but San­ders said he “does not have a role at this time” with the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion.

While Kelly’s ob­jec­tion was the de­ci­sive fac­tor in Scara­mucci’s de­par­ture, peo­ple close to the de­ci­sion said Trump had quickly soured on the for­mer hedge fund man­ager, and so had the pres­i­dent’s fam­ily.

Ivanka Trump, the pres­i­dent’s daugh­ter, and Jared Kush­ner, her hus­band, had pushed for the pres­i­dent to hire Scara­mucci, see­ing him as a way to force out Priebus, the for­mer Repub­li­can Na­tional Com­mit­tee chair­man, and his al­lies in the West Wing, ac­cord­ing to White House of­fi­cials.

In that, Scara­mucci was suc­cess­ful. Spicer, a close ally of Priebus, re­signed just hours af­ter the news about Scara­mucci’s hir­ing was made pub­lic. And shortly af­ter Scara­mucci called Priebus a “para­noid schiz­o­phrenic, a para­noiac” — ad­ding a more vul­gar term to the be­gin­ning of the phrase — Priebus, too, of­fered his res­ig­na­tion.

Trump was ini­tially pleased by Scara­mucci’s harsh re­marks, directed at Priebus and Steve Ban­non, the chief White House strategist. But over the week­end, af­ter speak­ing with his fam­ily and Kelly, the pres­i­dent be­gan to see the brash ac­tions of his sub­or­di­nate as a po­lit­i­cal li­a­bil­ity and po­ten­tial em­bar­rass­ment, ac­cord­ing to two peo­ple fa­mil­iar with his think­ing.

“The pres­i­dent cer­tainly felt that An­thony’s com­ments were in­ap­pro­pri­ate for a per­son in his po­si­tion,” San­ders said when asked about the ouster.

No other post in the White House has ex­pe­ri­enced as much up­heaval as the com­mu­ni­ca­tions di­rec­tor job. It was first given to Ja­son Miller, a Trump cam­paign aide who stepped down from the post dur­ing the tran­si­tion be­fore even be­ing sworn in. It was then given to Repub­li­can op­er­a­tive Michael Dubke, who re­signed in May. In the in­ter­ven­ing weeks, Spicer had taken on those re­spon­si­bil­i­ties in ad­di­tion to his role as press sec­re­tary un­til Scara­mucci was named to the po­si­tion.

TRUMP DE­NIES ‘CHAOS’

Scara­mucci’s dis­missal was the lat­est in a fast-mov­ing se­quence of events at 1600 Penn­syl­va­nia Ave., but Trump dis­missed any talk of dis­ar­ray. He in­sisted in a morn­ing tweet that there was “No WH chaos,” then fol­lowed up in the evening with a tweet that said, “great day at the White House.”

Scara­mucci’s exit un­der­scored the chal­lenges that Kelly, the for­mer home­land se­cu­rity chief, faces in bring­ing or­der to a West Wing where many aides have re­ported di­rectly to the pres­i­dent, feel­ing free to walk into Trump’s Oval Of­fice or but­ton­hole him in the hall­way to lobby for con­flict­ing agen­das.

While in most ad­min­is­tra­tions the chief of staff closely man­ages the pres­i­dent’s time and oth­ers’ ac­cess to the Oval Of­fice, Priebus never was able to pre­vent Trump from con­tin­u­ing the same dis­or­derly style he had cre­ated atop his busi­ness.

And then there is the pres­i­dent him­self, who uses tweets at all hours to make new pol­icy an­nounce­ments, in­sult crit­ics and even go af­ter fel­low Repub­li­cans who don’t toe his line.

On Kelly’s first day, the White House put out word that the re­tired four-star gen­eral had free rein to tighten the chain of com­mand.

San­ders said Kelly “has the full au­thor­ity to carry out busi­ness as he sees fit” and that all White House staff mem­bers will re­port to him, in­clud­ing Ivanka Trump, Kush­ner and Ban­non.

Kelly “will bring new struc­ture, dis­ci­pline and strength” to the White House, San­ders said.

The chief of staff took his oath of of­fice early Mon­day in an Oval Of­fice cer­e­mony thronged by se­nior staff mem­bers, in­clud­ing Scara­mucci.

Trump said he has “no doubt” that Kelly, whose ap­point­ment was an­nounced via Twit­ter on Fri­day, will do a “spec­tac­u­lar job” in his new role.

“What he’s done in terms of home­land se­cu­rity is record-shat­ter­ing,” Trump said, ad­ding that Kelly had achieved “tremen­dous re­sults” in “a con­tro­ver­sial sit­u­a­tion,” a ref­er­ence, among other things, to the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s tem­po­rary travel ban on refugees and res­i­dents of sev­eral ma­jor­ity-Mus­lim coun­tries and its more ag­gres­sive en­force­ment of im­mi­gra­tion laws.

“We look for­ward, if it’s pos­si­ble, to an even bet­ter job as chief of staff,” Trump said.

“I’ll try, sir,” Kelly re­sponded.

Af­ter swear­ing in Kelly, Trump con­vened his full Cab­i­net, in­clud­ing At­tor­ney Gen­eral Jeff Ses­sions, the tar­get of re­cent pub­lic re­bukes from the pres­i­dent. San­ders later brushed aside talk of yet another abrupt shuf­fle: the idea of Ses­sions leav­ing the Jus­tice Depart­ment to re­place Kelly at the Home­land Se­cu­rity Depart­ment. The pres­i­dent has no such plans, she said.

Trump, for his part, de­clared that his ad­min­is­tra­tion was hum­ming along smoothly.

“Over­all, I think we’re do­ing in­cred­i­bly well. The econ­omy is do­ing in­cred­i­bly well, and many other things,” he said.

Asked by a re­porter what will be dif­fer­ent un­der Kelly, Trump said his ad­min­is­tra­tion “has done very well” and set “lots of records.”

He said that “the stock mar­ket is the high­est it’s ever been,” that the un­em­ploy­ment rate is “the low­est it has been in 17 years” and that busi­ness con­fi­dence is high.

“We’re do­ing very well. We have a tremen­dous base,” Trump said. “The coun­try is op­ti­mistic. And I think the gen­eral will just add to it.” In­for­ma­tion for this ar­ti­cle was contributed by Mag­gie Haber­man, Michael D. Shear and Glenn Thrush of The New York

Times; by Jonathan Lemire, Cather­ine Lucey, Jill Colvin, Josh Boak and Vi­vian Salama of The Associated Press; and by Abby Phillip, Damian Paletta, Robert Costa, Philip Rucker and John Wag­ner of The Wash­ing­ton Post.

AP/EVAN VUCCI

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump talks with new White House Chief of Staff John Kelly af­ter he was pri­vately sworn in dur­ing a cer­e­mony in the Oval Of­fice on Mon­day in Wash­ing­ton.

Scara­mucci

AP/SUSAN WALSH

White House press sec­re­tary Sarah Huck­abee San­ders lis­tens to a re­porter’s ques­tion Mon­day dur­ing the daily brief­ing at the White House in Wash­ing­ton. San­ders was asked about Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s de­ci­sion to re­move An­thony Scara­mucci from his po­si­tion as com­mu­ni­ca­tions di­rec­tor and other top­ics.

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