Reince Priebus

Priebus Opens Up About His Time in the White House

Former White House chief of staff Reince Priebus confirms to Vanity Fair the media’s portrayal of a White House in disarray and riven by conflict: “Take everything you’ve heard and multiply it by 50.”

Here’s how he describes the aftermath of President Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey:

While Priebus and Bannon watched the fiasco explode as the pundits excoriated the Trump White House on every cable news show, Kushner did a slow burn. He was livid, furious that the communications team could not defend Comey’s firing. Bannon blew his stack. “There’s not a fucking thing you can do to sell this!,” he shouted at Kushner. “Nobody can sell this! P. T. Barnum couldn’t sell this! People aren’t stupid! This is a terrible, stupid decision that’s going to have massive implications. It may have shortened Trump’s presidency—and it’s because of you, Jared Kushner!

The screaming matches and white-knuckle showdowns continued. Eight days later, Priebus got an unexpected visit from the White House counsel—a story he has not told publicly before. “Don McGahn came in my office pretty hot, red, out of breath, and said, ‘We’ve got a problem.’ I responded, ‘What?’ And he said, ‘Well, we just got a special counsel, and [Attorney General Jeff] Sessions just resigned.’ I said, ‘What!? What the hell are you talking about?’ ”

The piece is an adaptation from the forthcoming paperback edition of The Gatekeepers by Chris Whipple.

Priebus Disputes Trump Tried to Fire Mueller

Former Trump White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus disputed reports that Trump sought to fire special counsel Robert Mueller, NBC News reports.

Said Priebus: “Of all the things that we went through in the West Wing, I never felt that the president was going to fire the special counsel.”

First Read: “But note how Priebus repeatedly used the word ‘felt’ in the interview. As Hugh Hewitt described it on Meet the Press after the Priebus interview, ‘You can’t perjure yourself if you feel something. If you don’t remember something you can’t perjure yourself. So he’s been lawyered up. He’s obviously feeling like he’s not a target and he’s in the clear.'”

Priebus Interviewed by Mueller’s Investigators

Former White House chief of staff Reince Priebus was interviewed by special counsel Robert Mueller’s team on Friday, Politico reports.

“Priebus is seen as a key player in understanding the president’s actions because he was present for many meetings, including discussions on firing Comey and White House meetings with Russian officials. He also was privy to White House internal documents.”

It was probably just a coincidence that Trump invited Priebus to lunch last week “in what is one of their few in-person meetings since Priebus was driven out of the administration more than two months ago.”

Fired Aides Still at the White House

Politico: “Priebus, these people said, told people he was staying around even after he publicly said he resigned and flew to Long Island on Air Force One, a strange move if one had already resigned… Regardless, he wandered around the halls of the Executive Office Building for days, taking occasional meetings, looking for other gigs and taking a vacation before his employment formally concludes at the end of August. Priebus declined to comment.”

“No one is exactly sure what Spicer is doing these days at the White House; he quit five weeks ago but is still there while negotiating his next gig and meeting with TV networks, while staying on the payroll.”

Mueller Now Wants to Talk to Reince Priebus

“In a sign that the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election will remain a continuing distraction for the White House, special counsel Robert Mueller is in talks with the West Wing about interviewing current and former senior administration officials, including the recently ousted White House chief of staff, Reince Priebus,” the New York Times reports.

“Mr. Mueller has asked the White House about specific meetings, who attended them and whether there are any notes, transcripts or documents about them… Among the matters Mr. Mueller wants to ask the officials about is President Trump’s decision in May to fire the F.B.I. director, James Comey.”

Inside the End of the Priebus Era

Politico: “It was an ignominious close to an operatic six months during which Priebus was sidelined from the outset, first by chief strategist Steve Bannon, then by Trump’s children and finally by Anthony Scaramucci, whose arrival last week as communications director heralded the imminent end of Priebus’ tenure.”

“But finally it was the absence of progress on Trump’s legislative agenda—health care, taxes, infrastructure—that prompted the president, in consultation with his family, to finally tell people around him it was time ‘to try a different approach,’ said one senior administration official.”

Said this person: “It’s hard to overstate how much the family had to do with this.”

Priebus Wasn’t the Problem

The Wall Street Journal editorial page lets loose on President Trump:

Presidents get the White House operations they want, and Mr. Trump has a chaotic mess because he seems to like it. He likes pitting faction against faction, as if his advisers are competing casino operators from his Atlantic City days. But a presidential Administration is a larger undertaking than a family business, and the infighting and competing leaks have created a dysfunctional White House.

The reason Mr. Priebus wasn’t as effective as he could have been is because Mr. Trump wouldn’t listen to him and wouldn’t let him establish a normal decision-making process. Mr. Trump has a soft spot for military men so perhaps he’ll listen more to Mr. Kelly. He’d better, because on present course his Presidency is careening toward a historic reputation where names like Jimmy Carter and Richard Nixon reside.

Trump Once Asked Priebus to Kill a Fly

This is quite the anecdote from the Washington Post:

Trump’s demeaning of Priebus came through in other ways, too. At one point, during a meeting in the Oval Office, a fly began buzzing overhead, distracting the president. As the fly continued to circle, Trump summoned his chief of staff and tasked him with killing the insect, according to someone familiar with the incident.

Why Anthony Scaramucci Hates Reince Priebus

The HuffPost has the details:

While preparing for his move into government, Scaramucci struck a deal — which is still under regulatory scrutiny — to sell his stake in his hedge fund, SkyBridge Capital, to Chinese conglomerate HNA Group and another company. He assumed that he’d be put in charge of the public liaison office, a job that Valerie Jarrett held in the Obama administration. He had it all mapped out, according to the White House adviser. He identified 2,500 influential business leaders across the United States and had come up with a clever name for them: Trump Team 2,500. He believed these people would help pressure Congress into supporting the president’s agenda.

But Scaramucci’s plans were foiled in early January. That’s when Priebus, according to a confidant of both Scaramucci and the president, told Trump, “He played you.”

Trump Authorized Scaramucci Attacks on Priebus

Daily Beast: “White House officials and outside allies say the president is revelling in Scaramucci’s campaign against Priebus—undertaken through cable news appearances and a billow of tweets, some of which were subsequently deleted—and is thrilled to see a top staffer placing a publicly bombastic emphasis on White House leaks to the press, which consistently infuriate the president.”

Said one White House adviser: “The president specifically gave him the green light to go after Reince.”

BuzzFeed: “Privately, Kellyanne Conway, counselor to the president, has told people that Priebus is ‘gone’ and that he is trying to figure out his next steps… Her message is that White House staffers who had come from the Republican National Committee, which Preibus ran before being named chief of staff, are out and the administration is ‘going back to Trump loyalists.'”

Scaramucci Sends Priebus a Message

Just after Politico reported that financial disclosure forms from White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci show he may profit from his ownership in an investment firm despite moving to the White House, Scaramucci tweeted:

“In light of the leak of my financial disclosure info which is a felony. I will be contacting @FBI and the @TheJusticeDept #Swamp @Reince45…”

Ryan Lizza: “In case there’s any ambiguity in his tweet I can confirm that Scaramucci wants the FBI to investigate Reince for leaking.”

Washington Post: “Some in White House are trying to build a case that Priebus is a leaker — ‘a diagram’ charting leaks, per senior official — to show Trump.”

Apparently unknown to Scaramucci: His financial disclosure is a public document.

Reince Priebus Marginalized

Washington Post: “Typically, the job of firing staffers — even those in the press shop — would be left to the chief of staff, but Priebus has found himself increasingly isolated in recent days, with few areas of the White House reporting directly to him.”

The New York Times reports that Priebus “is still on the bubble and said to be looking for a graceful exit of his own.”

What Would It Take for Reince Priebus to Quit?

Jonathan Swan: “President Trump knew that appointing Anthony Scaramucci as communications director would humiliate Reince, who fought hard against it. Scaramucci was smuggled into the meeting with the President on Thursday so Reince wouldn’t know about it. Trump had already taken pains to hide the discussions from his Chief of Staff, knowing Reince would try to foil the move. Trump also knew that inserting a line in the press release saying Scaramucci would report directly to the President — doing an end-run around Reince — was perhaps an unendurable public humiliation.”

“Reince has very few true allies inside the building. At this point, they don’t stretch much further than his personal assistant and the RNC holdovers on the press team. At the senior level, the only WH official who will go to the mat for Reince’s survival is Steve Bannon. They’ve become allies of convenience in a feud against Jared and Ivanka.”

Priebus Keeps Tight Grip on RNC

Politico: “Priebus, who led the RNC from 2011 until he assumed the White House job earlier this year, has so far given little autonomy to his successor, Ronna Romney McDaniel, with one senior Republican operative close to the White House saying Priebus’ control over the RNC is ‘total and complete.'”

“Priebus wants to be continually updated on fundraising numbers, potential candidates for office and polling numbers, according to one strategist with knowledge of the RNC.”

Trump Gives Priebus Deadline to Fix White House

President Trump “has set a deadline of July 4 for a shakeup of the White House that could include removing Reince Priebus as his chief of staff,” Politico reports.

“While Trump has set deadlines for staff changes before, only to let them pass without pulling the trigger, the president is under more scrutiny than ever regarding the sprawling Russia investigation, which is intensifying the pressure on his White House team.”