Reince Priebus reportedly in hot water as Trump confidant says he’s ‘in over his head’

Reince Priebus
Reince Priebus. Win McNamee/Getty Images

White House chief of staff Reince Priebus might be on thin ice with President Donald Trump, according to several sources who spoke with Politico.

The sources, who either spoke with Trump or top administration officials, said Trump campaign aides are starting to draft lists of potential replacements for the chief of staff, who formerly served as chairman of the Republican National Committee.

Included on the lists of possible replacements were top White House aides Kellyanne Conway and Rick Dearborn, economic adviser Gary Cohn, and lobbyist David Urban, Politico reported.

The Politico story came after Chris Ruddy, the CEO of Newsmax who is a Trump confidant, said during CNN’s “Reliable Sources” on Sunday that Priebus’ ouster was perhaps necessary. Ruddy said the botched rollout of Trump’s executive order temporarily barring travel from seven Middle Eastern countries and a mishandling of other key functions of his post were reasons why Priebus needed to be let go.

“The White House is showing not the amount of order that we need to see,” Ruddy told CNN. “I think there’s a lot of weakness coming out of the chief of staff.”

Ruddy subsequently spoke with The Washington Post and The New York Times, going into further detail on his thoughts about the White House chief of staff.

“A lot of people have been saying, ‘Look, Donald has some problems,’ and I think he realises that he’s got to make some changes going forward,” Ruddy told The Post, adding, “It’s my view that Reince is the problem. I think on paper Reince looked good as the chief of staff — and Donald trusted him — but it’s pretty clear the guy is in way over his head. He’s not knowledgeable of how federal agencies work, how the communications operations work. He botched this whole immigration rollout. This should have been a win for Donald, not two or three weeks of negative publicity.”

Speaking with The Times, Ruddy said Trump “doesn’t waste a lot of time” if he believes someone is underperforming at a job.

“If he thinks somebody is not performing, he moves pretty quickly,” he said.

But later on Sunday evening, Ruddy announced on Twitter that he spoke with Priebus and seemed to be more optimistic about the aide’s future in his current position.

Ruddy tweeted: “Reince just briefed me on new WH plans. Impressive! CNN today my personal view. Told him I have ‘open mind’ based on his results.”

“Jared Kushner tells me COS Reince is doing ‘amazing job,'” he added. “Disagrees with me!”

In his Times interview, Ruddy said Priebus “gave me a briefing on all the things they are doing to improve and streamline communications” and added “he asked me if I would keep an open mind as they make progress. I said, ‘Absolutely.'”

But Ruddy said he would not retract his earlier criticism. The pair agreed to meet for dinner in the near future, he told the Times. A decade-long friend of Trump’s and a member of his Mar-a-Lago Florida club, Ruddy said he spent a half hour with Trump Friday night following the president’s dinner with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Tension between the factions in the White House either loyal to Priebus or chief strategist Steve Bannon, former head of Breitbart News, have boiled over into media reports frequently since Trump took office, although the two men have gone on the record to say they get along very well.

Although the White House did not immediately reply to a request for comment from Business Insider, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the administration’s deputy communications director, gave Priebus credit for Trump’s early moves in office in a statement to the Times.

“The president has made unbelievable progress in just his first 21 days, bringing back jobs, saving taxpayers money and securing the nation,” she said. “Reince has successfully led the team that has implemented President Trump’s agenda.”

And on Monday, Joe Scarborough, the host of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” and who’s words carry importance to Trump, tweeted that Priebus’ job was “safe.”

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