“Reince is getting fired soon” stories will be to the Trump administration what “Romney thinking of jumping in” stories were to the 2016 campaign. Everyone knows there’s nothing to them. But they make for sweet, suspenseful, seemingly inexhaustible content.
The new deadline for Priebus to right the ship, whatever that might look like in practice, is supposedly Independence Day.
Days after his return from his first foreign trip late last month, Trump berated Priebus in the Oval Office in front of his former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and deputy campaign manager David Bossie for the dysfunction in the White House, according to multiple sources familiar with the conversation…
Trump’s first deadline for the firing of Priebus and many staffers that he brought on from the Republican National Committee was the 100-day mark.
The president then considered the idea of a Memorial Day shakeup when he returned from the foreign trip, and then most recently, July 4.
“It’s become comical that every holiday becomes a referendum on Reince,” said one adviser to the president.
“I’ve got one foot on a banana peel and another out the door,” Priebus has reportedly joked with friends about the endless rumors of being fired. Alluding to the possibility that he’ll be eased out as chief of staff and made an ambassador instead, Trump reportedly told Bossie that Reince “will enjoy Greece,” which is (a) funny and (b) typical of Trump’s habit of undermining hirelings like Priebus and Sean Spicer by musing openly about their job security at every opportunity. (Both have suffered the indignity of learning through the media that Trump has already begun interviewing possible replacements for them.) One “outside advisor” told Politico that that’s strategy on Trump’s part: By hinting repeatedly that they’re on thin ice, Trump expects Priebus and Spicer will either perform better or quit, solving his problem either way. Two flaws in that theory, though. Neither man seems to have a limit to how much humiliation they’ll swallow before quitting in disgust. And even if they did quit, Trump’s treatment of them is doubtless scaring away outside talent who might otherwise be willing to replace them lest they end up suffering serial embarrassment like Reince and Spicer too.
McKay Coppins identifies another potential problem that probably explains why Priebus will be given a soft landing with an ambassadorship even if Trump drops the axe. After canning Comey, the White House has learned a hard lesson about the political headaches a fired staffer is capable of causing:
What would it even mean for Reince to “clean up the White House” by July 4th? Possibly that’s a reference to finally organizing the Russiagate “war room” that was supposedly coming last week but never got off the ground, although it seems like Trump lawyer Marc Kasowitz may have taken control of all Russiagate messaging. More likely t’s a reference to the Senate passing its own ObamaCare replacement bill, which could happen before the holiday recess next month if everything breaks right and moderates and conservatives come to consensus on Medicaid. Trump reportedly blamed Reince for the initial failure of the House health-care bill in March; subsequent passage of the revised bill in May may have saved Priebus’s job. He’s in line to be scapegoated again if McConnell and his caucus choke in July, so that’s probably what this alleged ultimatum means. Make sure the bill gets through, Reince, or else.
Here’s Priebus turning in a short but spectacular performance of toadying this morning, assuring the president that it’s a “blessing” to work for him even as Politico’s blasting out stories about Trump putting him on life support as chief of staff. I wonder how much this sort of obsequiousness encourages casual humiliation from Trump. Exit question via Coppins: How many of these “Reince on thin ice” stories are legit and how many are just anti-Priebus types inside the White House whispering falsehoods to reporters to embarrass and undermine him?
WH Chief of Staff Reince Priebus to Trump: “We thank you for the opportunity and blessing to serve your agenda” https://t.co/L7DEdZUjV3
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) June 12, 2017