White House personnel changes are looking more like a revolving door with each new day.
Just eleven days after Anthony Scaramucci was introduced as the new White House Communications Director, he has been removed from the position. His departure comes fifteen days before he was due to officially assume the duties of the new role.
This latest White House departure comes on the same day that General John Kelly, the former Homeland Security Director, was sworn in as White House Chief of Staff. A brief statement from Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said:
Anthony Scaramucci will be leaving his role as White House Communications Director. Mr. Scaramucci felt it was best to give Chief of Staff John Kelly a clean slate and the ability to build his own team. We wish him all the best.
Scaramucci’s brief time in the White House – the shortest tenure of any Communications Director – was not without drama. He stepped into the position already at odds with then Chief of Staff Reince Priebus. Sean Spicer, a Priebus ally, quickly resigned as White House Press Secretary. On Thursday of last week, The New Yorker published a telephone interview with Scaramucci in which he accused Priebus of leaking information to the magazine. During a rant that contained colorful language, the Communications Director told The New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza about his frustrations over White House leaks to the media.
I’ve asked people not to leak things for a period of time and give me a honeymoon period. They won’t do it. They’ll all be fired by me. I fired one guy the other day. I have three to four people I’ll fire tomorrow. I’ll get to the person who leaked that to you. Reince Priebus – if you want to leak something – he’ll be asked to resign very shortly.
Priebus himself resigned the day after the interview was published.
Intrigue was in the air from the moment Scaramucci suggested, during his first appearance in the press briefing room, that he would be reporting directly to President Donald Trump, rather than to Priebus. Normally, it is the White House Chief of Staff who controls access to the president.
Although the situation at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue may not be quite as chaotic as the establishment media portrays it, the president’s team is not exactly operating like a well-oiled machine. It had appeared as though Scaramucci had Trump’s ear and was the man to bring order. That now seems to have been a false start. Bringing four-star Marine General John Kelly in as the new Chief of Staff may signal a renewed attempt to right the ship. Kelly is respected as a man of integrity and leadership, and a more conventional pecking order could be quickly restored.
A president’s White House team is traditionally scrutinized for signs of who has more access to the Oval Office, where loyalties lie and the internal machinations of White House messaging to the public. Since Trump’s inauguration, these have all been somewhat muddled. Assuming that everybody understands their roles within the confines of the West Wing, the optics thus far have been less than reassuring. Kelly’s patience may be tested but he can assume that role of no-nonsense Chief of Staff so vital to a president’s day-to-day activities, and if so, this could be the clean slate the president genuinely needs.