When newly appointed communications director, Anthony Scaramucci hit the Sunday morning shows, he was sounding much more like a chief of staff than just the head of communications for the Trump administration.
Now we know why.
A new report from Politico suggests that the communications position was just the doorway to the inside used to elevate this particular swamp creature into the role now held by Reince Priebus.
One White House official and two outside advisers said that while Scaramucci was brought into the White House for the communications job, he’s considered an internal candidate to eventually succeed Priebus as chief of staff. There are also a handful of outside candidates.
The unexpected hire has raised questions of whether more shake-ups are coming, even as the White House has tried to downplay its internal discord. The instability has made it difficult for the administration to fend off questions about ties between Trump’s 2016 campaign and Russia and to move forward an embattled legislative agenda.
Trump, the chaos candidate, apparently thrives on the internal turmoil. He certainly does enough to keep it going.
And with this new threat to Priebus’ position, I can’t help but think back to that cringe-worthy roundtable video released several months ago, where each member of Trump’s cabinet was given an opportunity to pledge fealty to the king for the cameras. Priebus’ offering was particularly nauseating, as he called the opportunity to serve Trump’s agenda a “blessing.”
Maybe it was just my perception, but Priebus, more than any of the others groveling to lay the best offering of praise at Trump’s gilded feet, seemed most desperate and pleading.
How desperate, and now, here it is.
Priebus was reportedly against the hiring of Scaramucci, protesting that he had no experience in government.
Not really a strong argument, Reince. By today’s standards, that qualifies him for the presidency.
Scaramucci made clear to reporters on Friday that he reports directly to Trump, not Priebus, even though the chief of staff would typically oversee communications and other portfolios.
Special assistant and social media director Dan Scavino also tweeted on Saturdaythat he reports directly to the president.
“In a normal White House, every staffer reports to the chief of staff,” said Republican strategist Alex Conant. “Any staffer who believes that they don’t report to the chief of staff is going to be a potential headache for the chief of staff.”
I suppose if your job is to replace the current chief of staff, you don’t really see a need to report to him, so you go over his head.
What you don’t expect is for somebody that just came on board, even before it’s announced that he’ll be taking over the chief of staff role to be so blatant about it, right off the bat.
Scaramucci on Sunday said that he wanted to “reset” the culture of the communications department, in order to better serve the president.
Scaramucci has promised to “audit” the communications shop, and many staffers who are closely aligned with Priebus are bracing for their fate, multiple White House officials said.
The departure of Sean Spicer didn’t really leave many of them feeling comfortable.
In a White House full of internal fiefdoms, Spicer is the third senior staffer brought into the White House by Priebus who has been shown the door. After the House failed on its first attempt to pass a health care bill, Priebus’ deputy chief of staff Katie Walsh was pushed out. She has since returned to the RNC. Former communications director Mike Dubke also resigned in May.
“His strength was in his people,” a close White House adviser to Trump said of Reince. “He didn’t have personal clout, he had organizational clout, so losing another staffer is eroding his organizational clout.”
Priebus has used the relationships formed through his time as chairman of the Republican National Committee to try and make things happen in the House, that would push Trump’s agenda forward.
For the time being, he has his job, but speculation is growing that his head is to be the next to roll, as Trump begins putting “outsiders” in higher positions.
You can directly translate that to mean, “Make the swamp swampy again.”