Jul 16, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Trump's summer shakeup

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

President Trump demoted campaign manager Brad Parscale and replaced him with his deputy, hours after a brutal new round of polls showed Trump losing five of six swing states — and sinking into a double-digit hole nationally.

Why it matters: Trump's announcement — on Facebook, in the midst of a Twitter outage — shows that he knows he's losing.

  • It's obvious to all around him: All the data shows it. The family knows it. And with 110 days until the election, the president now admits it.

A recent spate of Fox News polls particularly infuriated Trump, Axios' Alayna Treene hears.

  • One official said Trump still brings up a warning by Fox News' Tucker Carlson last month that Trump "could well lose."
  • Look for more changes to come.

The towering Parscale is a longtime Trump family digital guru who engineered the online side of Trump's 2016 upset.

  • He gets to stay, demoted to senior adviser. Trump really can't fire Brad: He knows too much, and he built the digital infrastructure the campaign relies on.
  • He was replaced by his deputy, Bill Stepien, a Trump loyalist and longtime Republican operative. Stepien worked on Trump's 2016 campaign, then was White House political director before moving to the campaign.

One top Republican told me Stepien, who once was Chris Christie's top aide, is an expert at a vital skill in Trumpworld — candidate management.

  • Another power center is senior adviser Jason Miller, effectively the campaign's chief strategist, who has frequent conversations with Trump.

Behind the scenes: Trump lost confidence in Parscale after the Tulsa debacle, Axios' Jonathan Swan reports.

  • The switch is partly cosmetic: Jared Kushner — who gave Parscale the news that he was out — was calling the shots before, and calls them now.

What's next: A Trump confidant tells Axios the campaign believes it can make up ground with suburban voters by trying to tie Joe Biden to calls to defund police.

  • "I look forward to having a big and very important second win," Trump said on Facebook. "This one should be a lot easier as our poll numbers are rising fast, the economy is getting better, vaccines and therapeutics will soon be on the way, and Americans want safe streets and communities!"

The best text that came in when the news broke: "The real campaign manager reports to the Oval every day, anyways."

  • That, of course, is Donald Trump.
Go deeper