President Donald Trump, who has reportedly been isolated and frustrated by the negative coverage engulfing his administration in recent days, may be considering a major reorganization of his White House staff, according to report from Mike Allen of the news website Axios on Sunday.
Trump is said to have been furious at his communications team – led by the White House press secretary, Sean Spicer, and communications director, Michael Dubke – for what he has characterized as their failure to defend his decision to fire James Comey as FBI director, The New York Times reported Friday.
The Times said, however, that Trump had kept Spicer and the communications team in the dark regarding his decision to fire Comey until the last possible moment.
Regardless, Trump seems to be considering a sweeping shake-up of his West Wing staff amid the media firestorm that has followed his abrupt decision to fire Comey – the man who was overseeing an FBI investigation into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to meddle in the 2016 presidential election.
After Comey was fired, the White House scrambled to get an official statement out. Initially, it said Trump’s decision had nothing to do with the Russia investigation and was based entirely upon recommendations from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
The next day, however, Trump said he had been considering firing Comey for a while and that a memo from Rosenstein had only sealed the deal. Later, Trump again shifted his rhetoric, saying he had already decided to fire Comey before he got Rosenstein’s memo.
The resulting media chaos reportedly threw the White House into turmoil, as aides and surrogates worked to craft a message around the president’s evolving statements to the media.
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As Trump’s staff continues to manage fallout from Comey’s firing, the group Trump is most upset at includes Dubke, Spicer, and the White House chief of staff, Reince Priebus, according to the Times report, which cited six West Wing officials.
Trump is specifically eyeing a crackdown on his communications team over anger at the number of leaks that have been spilling out of the White House. Axios added that the White House chief strategist, Steve Bannon, and counsel, Don McGahn, may be among those in line to be replaced.
Trump is “frustrated, and angry at everyone,” one source told Axios, saying the president was also upset with Cabinet officials like Sessions, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, and Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price.
Trump’s confidants have reportedly been pointing out to him that his approval ratings have not seen significant improvement – as of Saturday, the president had a 56% disapproval rating and a 39% approval rating, according to Gallup.
Regarding potential shake-ups of his staff, one source told Axios: “The advice he’s getting is to go big – that he has nothing to lose. The question now is how big and how bold. I’m not sure he knows the answer to that yet.”