If you watch or listen to the interviews today with new White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci, and then overlay them against a backdrop of ongoing events (including last week), there’s a very solid outlook that Reince Priebus is close to being replaced as Chief of Staff.
Scaramucci says today: “If they want to stay on the staff, they’re going to stop leaking.” Where “they” are clearly White House staffers who have been identified as leaking to the media.
When you step back and remind yourself where “they” came from, you recognize this staff is primarily made up of former RNC staff brought into the White House by Reince Priebus the former head of the RNC and now Chief of Staff.
When you step back further you find yourself reminded what ideology those same RNC staffers carried before following Priebus to the White House. Then we quickly realize these are Scott Walker/Ted Cruz type GOPe loyalists who have no affinity for the populist approach of Trump.
There’s the problem that has existed in nuanced form from the outset of the decision to keep Reince Priebus inside the Trump administration as a bridge to the parties legislative and political apparatus in DC.
Sean Spicer, former RNC Communications head and Reince Priebus former RNC Chairman, are essentially loyal to the strength that was/is Trump as a political force. Their underlings, well, not-so-much.
The supportive inflexion point for Priebus was never more clear in 2016 than the moment he realized how many small donors were contributing the campaign of candidate Trump. The Republican Party had never before received so many, or so much, small donor support; ever, in the history of the party.
Both Spicer and Priebus publicly stated they were stunned at the level of grassroots support for candidate Trump. [400,000 in June ’16 alone] That donation support also carried with it a massive database of motivated voters. That database is worth multiple times more money than the actual contributions itself.
That database was seen by the party apparatus as the most valuable political tool in the past two decades. The donor contribution lists from that data are now creating thousands of inbound emails, letters and solicitations for subsequent donations – as the old party databases were dispatched and the newer, more valuable, Trump-database was activated for all current races throughout the nation.
I have no doubt most, if not all, readers here have seen a massive increase in those party and individual solicitations now using that database.
The level of power and influence carried by the scope of those grassroots donations is what convinced Priebus and Spicer who view the political power as the ends facilitated by such data. The historic scope of those political donations is what convinced Priebus and Spicer to join the Trump train; it was not the Trump message or policy.
However, at the layers below those wide-eyed, gleeful and financially intoxicated stares by the RNC national leadership, the more ideological staffers don’t share in the same motives for enthusiasm. The Spicer, Priebus and to a lesser extent the Conway’s loyalties, are not grounded in the same motives as the staffers. Thus the loyalty disconnect; and thus “the leaks”.
The only way to get rid of those leaks is to replace the professional Walker/Cruz-minded staffers with MAGA staffers; yes, deplorables.
Secondly, another overlay into this equation is the New York Times interview with President Trump that sparked so much controversy. According to the report surrounding the origin of that interview, it was on Trump’s schedule that day – but not actually as an interview.
As reported the invitation extended to the three New York Times reporters (Maggie Haberman, Peter Baker, Michael Schmidt) was so President Trump could meet and understand the three DC correspondents to the New York Times. It was not on the schedule as an interview. Maggie Haberman was very familiar with Donald Trump; Baker and Schmidt had never met him. Haberman was doing the introductions.
The interview angle came as an outcome of the reporters asking for some of the information to be ‘on the record‘. This fact helps explain how the Jeff Sessions comments came out as the president flows into, and out of, the “on-record” aspect. President Trump never says anything he’s not willing to own; but the free flow of consciousness approach within his interview answers can often lead to unintended headlines.
Notably, Reince Priebus was not at this meeting which turned into an interview. Normally, well, actually, with no exceptions, the Chief-of-Staff would certainly be present with any invited guest into the oval office. Yes, that includes media and all others unless specifically exempted by direction of the President.
President Trump’s Assistant, Hope Hicks, director of strategic communications and a quiet female version of ‘Lewandowski-level-loyalty’, was present as noted by The Times describing the venue environment; but no-one else.
Again, this indicates a particular type of distancing of the President from his Chief-of-Staff. That same type of ‘particular distancing’ is also evident in the overall decision to put Scaramucci in charge of communications.
A communications decision which indicated to a stunned and surprised Sean Spicer his exit was the best course. [See Hannity Interview]
Lastly, Anthony Scaramucci would never drop a mention of firing or removing White House Staff (ie. leakers) if the concern of leaks was not discussed between Trump and Scaramucci during their ongoing conversations leading up to the announcement to the Communications Director job. They’d obviously talked about this.
Reince Priebus is at his weakest point with President Trump, ever. [Again, that outlook showed in his Hannity interview] The professional political apparatus is working to destroy President Trump. Priebus’s primary value was his connection, his network, to the professional political apparatus and his ability to flow between the legislative body of congress and the White House. With congress taking an oppositional stature toward the president, Priebus is no longer needed.
Vice-President Pence can serve the role of bridge-builder for any politician in DC that wishes to support the Trump agenda.
My hunch is that Reince Priebus will be gone by the end of August along with Sean Spicer and most of their RNC team of White House leakers.