Report: Reince Priebus's departure from White House "imminent"

Lottttta rumbles lately about this happening, even though most of the “shake-up” rumors have focused on the communications staff, not the inner circle.

Erick Erickson is the latest to hear that Reince is a goner. Who thought Sean Spicer would outlast his former boss at the RNC?

[T]wo White House sources tell me Reince Priebus’s departure is imminent. The President would like to land Reince somewhere still in government, but regardless has decided to move on. I was not told who the replacement is or even that the President has settled on a replacement. It will not be, despite some rumors, Steve Bannon. One name circulating in the media is lobbyist David Urban, who once served as Chief of Staff to Arlen Specter. Choosing Urban would be bringing the swamp into the White House instead of draining it…

I like Reince. Many if not most of my conservative friends do not. But Reince always struck me as more with us than against us and in a position to help where he could. I wish he had been able to actually be the Chief of Staff in practice. I suspect the White House would be less chaotic.

I also fear that with his imminent departure, his replacement may actually try to shield the President from consistently conservative voices.

Yeah, that last part is quite possible if his replacement ends up being Gary Cohn, allegedly one of the two finalists for the job along with Urban. Why Trump would want Cohn in that role, I don’t know. The president should want his chief of staff to have lots of friends on the Hill, to make it easier to move legislation through Congress. Cohn is a Democrat and Congress is controlled by Republicans. Urban, although swamp-y, at least makes sense from that standpoint. Cohn would also be a weird choice given the pivot back towards nationalism in Trump’s policies lately. Why choose a “globalist” chief of staff to help implement Steve Bannon’s agenda?

The rumor this past week as “Reince is out” stories have swirled is that he’ll be packed off to Greece as America’s new ambassador. WaPo reported that a few days ago but noted that the White House “strongly denied” it. On Tuesday, however, the Times was hearing it too:

Mr. Trump has been more open in discussing the possible departure of Reince Priebus, the White House chief of staff. The president has joked repeatedly with Mr. Priebus, whose mother is of Greek descent, that he would send him to Athens as ambassador to Greece. Speculation grew last week when a list of ambassadors was compiled at Mr. Priebus’s request, and the Athens position was left blank, officials said.

Hard to believe the president would “joke” with his chief of staff about firing him and booting him halfway across the world and then actually do it, but never underestimate Trump’s capacity for petty cruelty towards his underlings. The rumor has spread to some of his confidants, too:

The media will treat Reince sympathetically once he’s out in the belief that no chief can bring true order to a White House dominated by a chaos dynamo like Trump. But Priebus had his failings, even according to outside observers:

“It’s been the most dysfunctional White House in memory, and a lot of it is on Reince,” said Chris Whipple, a documentary filmmaker and author of “The Gatekeepers,” a new book chronicling White House chiefs of staff back to the Truman administration.

“Priebus has made rookie mistake after rookie mistake, and he started by making the biggest one of all: not insisting he be the first among equals,” Mr. Whipple said. “Fatal mistake. I’m not sure anybody could make that demand, but he didn’t even really try.”

“At some point, the president is either going to embrace failure or pick a grown-up, or maybe Mattis, as his chief,” he added, referring to Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.

That’s from a Times story earlier this month about Priebus’s “stalking butler” approach to managing Trump, hanging around him constantly to try to keep him on schedule amid frequent presidential digressions for schmooze sessions. Although partly it was a product of paranoia too, I suspect: In a White House rife with leaks and already famous for infighting, Reince naturally wanted to know at any given moment who was whispering what to the president, especially about Priebus himself. He and Spicer are similar in that both began their tenures on thin ice. They were RNC guys, not old Trump cronies, so they’ve been on probation since day one and behaved like they knew it, forever jittery that their next false step would send them plunging into oblivion. It looks like neither one will survive June with his current duties still intact. That’s part of Trump’s shift towards old buddies like Corey Lewandowski and David Bossie — he tried things the “establishment” way with Reince and Spicer, now he’s going to do things his way. His presidency might get worse but at least he’ll be more comfortable as it does.

Kinda surprised that he’s not looking at Chris Christie for the chief of staff job. Christie, at least, would demand to be “first among equals” and has executive know-how after eight years as governor. But Christie himself was apparently too establishment for the transition team. And as a big personality, his presence might not sit well with other rivals for power in the White House like Bannon, Kushner, and Cohn. That’s the catch about becoming chief of staff for Trump. You get to be the man in charge, so long as you know that you’re not really in charge. Christie wouldn’t like that.