President Donald Trump has set a deadline of July 4 for a shakeup of the White House that could include removing Reince Priebus as his chief of staff, according to two administration officials and three outside advisers familiar with the matter.
While Trump has set deadlines for staff changes before, only to let them pass without pulling the trigger, the president is under more scrutiny than ever regarding the sprawling Russia investigation, which is intensifying the pressure on his White House team.
Days after his return from his first foreign trip late last month, Trump berated Priebus in the Oval Office in front of his former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and deputy campaign manager David Bossie for the dysfunction in the White House, according to multiple sources familiar with the conversation.
Trump had been mulling bringing on Bossie as his deputy White House chief of staff and Lewandowski as a White House senior adviser with a portfolio that includes Russia, but told the two at that meeting that they would not be joining the White House until Priebus had a fair chance to clean up shop, according to the sources.
“I’m giving you until July 4,” Trump said, according to a person with knowledge of the conversation.
“I don’t want them to come into this mess. If I’m going to clean house, they will come in as fresh blood.”
White House press secretary Sean Spicer, in a statement on Sunday, disputed the idea that Priebus is facing a July 4 deadline. “Whoever is saying that is either a liar or out of the loop,” Spicer said.
The Independence Day timeframe is timed with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s deadline for passage of the health care bill through the chamber, which is also the start of the July 4th recess. Priebus took the brunt of the blame for the first failure to get a vote on the bill through the House, though the White House and Speaker Paul Ryan were ultimately able to secure its passage on a second try.
Talk of Trump’s July 4th deadline has made the rounds in the White House, but insiders and those close to the president are not holding their breath, given the perpetual talk that Priebus and other senior staffers are on the way out.
SOURCE: TARA PALMERI