Donald Trump’s signature tagline from his old NBC show The Apprentice, and later The Celebrity Apprentice, was “YOU’RE FIRED!” However, it seems that Trump isn’t really willing to do that with his staff inside the White House. Instead, he humiliates them into quitting. That is what happened with outgoing White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer.
First, Trump had then-Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders replace Spicer at the podium in the briefing room. Then, he removed Spicer from a leading role altogether. In fact, it has been reported that the reason Spicer moved all of his briefings off camera is that he was sick and tired of Trump yelling at him about his performance.
Of course, no one can forget how Trump excluded Spicer, who is a devout Catholic, from the select group of people who got to meet the Pope at the Vatican in Italy. He even took non-Catholics in while pointedly and childishly making sure Spicer didn’t get to meet the revered leader of his faith. Finally, against Spicer’s wishes, Trump made Wall Street guru Anthony Scarmucci the White House Communications Director. Now, it seems that Trump is trying to do the same to his Chief of Staff Reince Priebus.
Priebus was another strong voice against the appointment of Scaramucci. He finds him to be unqualified to do the job. Axios has a list of things that Trump has done in a sustained effort to force Reince to quit:
- 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.
As if all of this weren’t bad enough, there’s also the fact that there just aren’t that many people in the White House now who want Priebus there. Trump’s children, Ivanka and Jared, can’t stand him, and neither can the other warring factions. According to Axios, Priebus’ life in the West Wing must be nothing short of miserable:
- 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 (“Jivanka,” as Bannon calls them to associates.) Jared and Ivanka distrust Reince, think he’s incompetent, and want him gone ASAP.
- Still, there’s no obvious replacement, though a number of names have been tossed around. (This is why I’ve never written a Reince-is-terminal story in this newsletter.)
- One speculative question: What does Reince do if Scaramucci fires any of his people on the press team? Does the Chief of Staff take up the fight with the President? And what happens if he doesn’t get his way? On CBS’s “Face the Nation,” Scaramucci said he plans to tell the team at a Monday staff meeting that they will all be fired if they don’t stop leaking.
With all of this going down, Reince Priebus’ days are numbered. The thing is though, who the hell would want to be Donald Trump’s Chief of Staff after what we’ve witnessed since he took office? While Trump demands loyalty of all of those around him, he certainly does not return it. Anyone he perceives as being disloyal or a liability gets thrown to the wolves immediately. He might not fire these people directly, but he makes sure they have no choice but to resign, and he does in the most vicious way possible – public humiliation on the world stage.
Then again, this fraudulent occupier of our White House is really just a 71-year-old schoolyard bully, so we should expect nothing less.
Featured image via Win McNamee/Getty Images