The White House on Monday installed its second chief of staff and dumped its recently hired communications director, capping a 10-day period in which the press secretary, a communications aide and the original chief of staff all took their leave.
In the White House’s telling, everything is fine.
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President Donald Trump kicked off Monday morning with a series of tweets, one of which pointed to economic and jobs data as he claimed: “No WH chaos!”
Hours later, after the White House revealed Anthony Scaramucci was out as communications director just 10 days after announcing he was taking the job, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders hit the same message.
“I’ve said it before: If you want to see chaos, come to my house with three preschoolers,” Sanders, smiling, told reporters at a briefing. “This doesn’t hold a candle to that.”
Scaramucci’s ascent to the White House prompted the July 21 resignation of Trump’s first press secretary, Sean Spicer, who opposed his hiring as communications director. Days later, Scaramucci publicly debated firing press aide Michael Short, leading him to quit, and delivered a profane rant that helped push out the president’s first chief of staff, Reince Priebus.
In two public appearances Monday morning, the president appeared intent on showing his new chief of staff, former Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, that he wasn’t entering a chaotic White House. Kelly was sworn in Monday morning, and Trump’s message was, in short, that everything was going well — “and I think the general will just add to it,” he told reporters.
Scaramucci’s exit, announced later in the day Monday, came after other high-profile White House departures, including national security adviser Michael Flynn and communications director Mike Dubke.
The administration said in a statement that “Mr. Scaramucci felt it was best to give Chief of Staff John Kelly a clean slate and the ability to build his own team.” The language mirrored Spicer’s reason for resigning after Scaramucci’s hire.
Sanders said at Monday afternoon’s news briefing that Scaramucci, who promoted her to replace Spicer as press secretary, has no role in the administration “at this time.” Asked whether Scaramucci’s departure will change Spicer’s status in the White House, Sanders said she wasn’t “aware of any changes that have been made on that front.”
She added that Trump found Scaramucci’s rhetoric in a profanity-laced phone call last week with a reporter from The New Yorker to be “inappropriate for a person in that position,” and the president “didn’t want to burden” Kelly with “that line of succession.” Scaramucci had blasted Priebus and White House chief strategist Steve Bannon in the interview, and stressed that he reported directly to the president.
“Gen. Kelly has the full authority to operate within the White House, and all staff will report to him,” Sanders said. “Gen. Kelly, I think, will bring a new structure to the White House and discipline and strength, and we’re all really excited to work with him.”
Trump, who has repeatedly heaped praise on Kelly since announcing Friday that he would serve as chief of staff, predicted Monday that Kelly “will do a spectacular job” and will outperform his role as DHS secretary, a run Trump said had “been nothing short of miraculous.”
“I have no doubt that he will be an absolutely superb chief of staff,” Trump said. “I predict that Gen. Kelly will go down in terms of the position of chief of staff one of the great[est] ever.”
Voters aren’t convinced, though. In a new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll, a majority of respondents said the administration is running somewhat or very chaotically.