Tuesday, March 07, 2017

But Reince... We Hardly Knew Ye


Yesterday, the Washington Post published what everyone in DC is thinking, namely that "Trump enters week seven of his presidency the same as the six before it: enmeshed in controversy while struggling to make good on his campaign promises. At a time when the White House had sought to ride the momentum from Trump’s speech to Congress and begin advancing its agenda on Capitol Hill, the administration finds itself beset yet again by disorder and suspicion. At the center of the turmoil is an impatient president increasingly frustrated by his administration’s inability to erase the impression that his campaign was engaged with Russia, to stem leaks about both national security matters and internal discord and to implement any signature achievements... That angst over what many in the White House call the 'deep state' is fermenting daily, fueled by rumors and tidbits picked up by Trump allies within the intelligence community and by unconfirmed allegations that have been made by right-wing commentators. The 'deep state' is a phrase popular on the right for describing entrenched networks hostile to Trump." Funny, I always thought the Deep State described entrenched networks hostile to progressives and to anyone fighting against what Trump stands for.

And Bannon and his faction, now clearly dominant in the White House, are making certain all the blame for the chaos and disorder falls on the hapless Reince Priebus, a kind of Insider who's an outsider among the neo-Nazi true-believers surrounding and manipulating Trump. Friday morning's Trump meltdown over Jeff Sessions recusing himself has everyone buzzing that someone's going to be fired. Alex Isenstadt is always a good source for well-sourced Beltway gossip and he wrote yesterday that "With the White House struggling to gain its footing almost two months into Donald Trump's presidency, administration officials are increasingly putting the blame on one person: Reince Priebus."

Isenstadt's sources all blame poor Reince, an ally of the hated Paul Ryan, who White House sources describe disdainfully as "a micro-manager who sprints from one West Wing meeting to another, inserting himself into conversations big and small and leaving many staffers feeling as if he’s trying to block their access to Trump. They vented about his determination to fill the administration with his political allies. And they expressed alarm at what they say are directionless morning staff meetings Priebus oversees that could otherwise be used to rigorously set the day’s agenda and counterbalance the president’s own unpredictability. The finger-pointing further complicates life in an already turmoil-filled West Wing, one that has been hobbled by dueling power centers and unclear lines of command." Trump is said to be unhappy that Priebus tries to keep Putin stooges like Corey Lewandowski away from the White House-- for Trump's own good-- and the so-called president goes out of his way to circumvent his chief of staff and invite the Putin squad in for secret meetings that Priebus doesn't get asked to sit in on.
“There’s a real frustration among many-- including from the president-- that things aren’t going as smoothly as one had hoped,” said one senior administration official, who like others spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal. “Reince, fairly or not, is likely to take the blame and take the fault for that.”

"It’s sheer incompetence,” said another White House official. “There’s a lack of management, and a lack of strategy."

The White House vigorously disputed the notion that Priebus is losing the confidence of senior West Wing staff. Senior officials say the president respects the chief of staff for his deep relationships on Capitol Hill, and that no staff shakeup is expected in the immediate future.

...It is unfair to finger Priebus alone for the administration’s missteps. Much of the fault can be assigned to the president himself-- a notoriously unpredictable figure who relishes drama. Priebus himself has been caught off guard by a number of controversies-- the latest on Saturday, when he awoke to a series of Trump tweets, some of which accused former President Barack Obama, without evidence, of wiretapping Trump Tower phone lines.

The staff scrambled throughout the day to craft a statement that didn’t anger the president but also didn’t create any further headaches. Priebus has frequently lamented that he can’t control the president’s comments and spends much of his time in damage-control mode.

And despite the scrutiny focused on him, Priebus has won credit inside the White House for helping to engineer the rollout of Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch and playing a central role in overseeing Trump’s well-received congressional address last week.

The focus on Priebus comes at a time of growing distress for the president, who has taken to asking Cabinet members and White House officials for their thoughts on how his chief of staff is performing. Priebus did not accompany Trump on a trip this weekend to Florida, an absence that left many wondering whether Trump, who complained loudly to top aides during a tense Oval Office meeting on Friday over how things in his White House were going, had put his chief of staff in the doghouse.

Some contended that, in such a free-wheeling atmosphere, Priebus has struggled to provide structure. Several aides expressed unhappiness with the daily 8 a.m. senior staff meeting that he runs out of his office. With three flat-screen TVs usually on, the agenda is sometimes driven by that day’s news programs. The gatherings, which often last only 15 to 20 minutes, are typically organized round-robin style, with department heads giving 30-second updates on whatever it is they’re working on.

If an item someone mentions is important, it will result in a later sidebar conversation among a smaller team of top officials. If it isn’t, it’s often forgotten.

Some staffers roll their eyes as Priebus reiterates the need for them not to leak to the press, or as he stresses that if they want to talk to the president they need to go through him or one of his lieutenants, Katie Walsh.

“No one says anything of relevance,” said one senior staffer. “People are more than happy to schedule a breakfast and send their deputy now.”

Others complain about Priebus’ West Wing management, which they argue has become suffocating. They point to his habit of sprinting into meetings-- “He literally runs,” said one senior administration official-- which has led top aides to believe that he is trying to edge his way into their conversations or monitor their discussions with the president.

...There is a growing sense, too, that Priebus is trying to stack the administration with people who are loyal to him-- many of them establishment Republicans he grew friendly with during his Republican National Committee chairmanship-- while trying to keep out others. Multiple staffers say there is lingering resentment over the hire of communications director Michael Dubke, an ally of a Priebus lieutenant and press secretary Sean Spicer.

...There has also been White House conflict with Cabinet members such as Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who has vented to friends that Priebus has blocked his choice for deputy secretary, Goldman Sachs managing director Jim Donovan, according to one person familiar with the talks. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, meanwhile, has complained that the chief of staff is picking who will get plum ambassador posts without always consulting others, said another person, who is familiar with that situation.

“There’s a lot of distrust,” this person said of the Tillerson-Priebus relationship. “It’s natural that there will be frustration there.”

To some, Priebus’ determination to always be at Trump’s side-- not to mention his desire to place loyalists in the White House-- underscores his desire for greater control. He has competed for influence along with several other senior aides, including Bannon, Kushner, counselor Kellyanne Conway and economic adviser Gary Cohn.

...This past weekend, though, as Trump arrived in Florida without Priebus at his side, those close to the chief of staff were deluged with questions about why he was back in Washington. And at a Republican National Committee donor retreat in Palm Beach, where the president spoke on Friday evening, there was surprise that Priebus, a former party chairman who remains close to many of the party’s benefactors, hadn’t made an appearance.

As the weekend came to a close, White House officials tried to clear the air. They denied reports that Priebus, after Trump’s Friday flare-up, had been told by the president he couldn’t make the trip, claiming that there had been a “mutual decision” he would stay in Washington. He had initially planned to travel to Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort and return on a commercial aircraft Saturday for a family engagement. (Bannon flew down Saturday and dined with a number of Trump aides and Cabinet officials.)

The president, they added, was glad that the chief of staff had stayed behind to work. Priebus is helping to oversee a jam-packed schedule that will dominate the administration’s agenda for the week ahead, including the expected release of a new immigration travel ban and a draft health care bill.

Those close to the president say any senior shake-up would be far in the future. But Trump is notoriously mercurial, and he ordered multiple personnel changes on his presidential campaign when things weren’t going right.

If White House employees begin to head for the exits, one aide suggested, a change could come sooner than expected. “I think the president is starting to figure it out,” this person said, “slowly but surely.”

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At 1:38 AM, Blogger Smut Clyde said...

that things aren’t going as smoothly as one had hoped

The war situation has developed not necessarily to Japan's advantage.

At 9:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

this admin seems to insist on being hoisted by its own petard. It's funny if it wasn't so grimly tragic.

you have the deep state everywhere (mad dog and other former military...)
you have the traditional proudly, grotesquely corrupt like priebus trying very hard to keep the money flowing.
you have the white Christian caliphate crusaders (pence...)
you have the evangelical randians (ryan...)
you nave the racists and neo-nazis and ACTUAL Nazis (bannon, miller, gorka...)

And you have the retarded orange-utang sitting on the throne (literally, as he tweets an endless stream of nonsense) who everyone is trying to influence while they also try to accomplish their "respective" (?) agenda and not irritate the orange Hindenburg in doing so.

Not a fully formed human being anywhere to be seen.

And yet if the election were held again today, the orange fucktard would be re-elected even biglier.


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