Although President Donald Trump recently appointed Wall Street financier Anthony Scaramucci to the role of communications director, it is rumored that he is an internal candidate being considered to replace Reince Priebus as chief of staff.
Some view Scaramucci’s appointment as indicative of the rising power of political outsiders and the diminishing influence of establishment associates such as Priebus, who formerly served as chairman of the Republican National Committee.
According to one White House official and two outside advisers, Scaramucci and several other outside candidates are being considered for the chief of staff post.
Scaramucci’s appointment has raised speculation that more changes in the White House staff are coming, and much of the attention in that regard is focused on Priebus.
People close to Priebus claim that he hopes to complete one year in the chief of staff position and get a health care reform bill passed in the Senate.
“Reince is focused on driving the president’s bold agenda, and that has been and always will be his top priority,” White House deputy press secretary Lindsay Walters says.
Insiders claim that Priebus’ influence in the White House is diminishing, considering he, along with former press secretary Sean Spicer, were vehemently opposed to hiring Scaramucci, reportedly because Scaramucci had no prior experience in government communications.
Although the chief of staff typically manages White House communications, Scaramucci made clear to the media on Friday that he will report directly to the president.
A Saturday tweet by the special assistant to the president and social media director Dan Scavino noted that he also reports directly to Trump.
“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.”
Scaramucci intends to realign the culture of the White House communications apparatus so that it is focused on protecting the president, which former staff was criticized for not doing.
“I would like to reset the culture inside the comms department so that people recognize that I’m actually there to serve them … and they’re going to be working with me, not for me,” Scaramucci said on FOX News. “That’s a very big distinction, and, that all of us are there to serve the president of the United States and his agenda.”
Scaramucci also intends to “audit” the White House’s communications office. Multiple White House officials said that many staffers who are closely aligned with Priebus are wary.
Now that the fate of healthcare reform lies in the Senate, Priebus also has reduced influence on policy. Because of his close relationship with House Speaker Paul Ryan, Priebus is viewed as a “House guy.” Once the Senate assumed the work on healthcare legislation, Priebus allowed Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to work with the White House legislative affairs office and Vice President Mike Pence.
When the success of the Senate effort came into question, Trump went outside for assistance–calling on former campaign aides Corey Lewandowski and David Bossie to lobby senators–instead of relying on Priebus.
Despite the rumors, Priebus is often seen with Trump. The two lunched together on Saturday at Trump’s golf course in northern Virginia.
“He’s still the White House chief of staff,” a Trump adviser said, “for now.”
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