Jul 28, 2017

Swan's take on the end of Reince


West Wing staff anticipate John Kelly will act as more of a gatekeeper, as a traditional Chief of Staff would. "He was given full authority. Everyone goes through him," a source familiar with the situation told Axios.

  • Under Reince Priebus, the Oval Office resembled a "rolling craps game," in the words of one top Republican. Staff and visitors wandered freely in and out of the Oval, bantering with Trump, showing him print-outs of news articles unfavorable to their internal enemies, and generally eating up chunks of the President's precious time.
  • Most senior staff had lost all respect for Priebus. Multiple senior officials have told me he "gums up" the system and by the end was almost solely in survival mode.
  • In Reince's final 24 hours he was short on allies. Extaordinarily, not a single senior White House official came out to defend him as the new WH communications director Anthony Scaramucci pummeled him on TV and accused him of being the building's chief leaker.

By the end, the only senior official plotting to defend Reince — and destroy Mooch — was Steve Bannon. He saw the jaw-dropping New Yorker piece by Ryan Lizza as a last ditch opportunity to kill Mooch. Bannon tried to conspire with other conservatives to get the message to Trump that this was beyond the pale — and he got some support from Laura Ingraham and Lou Dobbs — but ultimately Trump had made up his mind. He was over Reince.

As for Mooch, Trump initially found his crude quotes to Lizza amusing, but he became less thrilled about it as the negative coverage piled on. But he was never going to punish Mooch, let alone fire him. Jared and Ivanka had brought Mooch in, in part, as a Reince-seeking missile. They and the First Lady distrusted Reince, thought him incompetent and wanted him out. The President gave Mooch his blessing to nuke Reince, but he will likely be pleased to see his new comms director dial back his aggression (and colorful language) a few notches.

Go deeper: Watch our Axios Sourced on Scaramucci's influence in the WH.

Go deeper