Former Chief of Staff Reince Priebus Says Early Days of Trump White House Were Chaotic

Former White House chief of staff Reince Priebus said that the administration’s early struggles were growing pains brought on by a norm-shattering president. | Saul Loeb/Getty Images

Reports of chaos and disorganization inside the White House through the first months of President Donald Trump’s administration are accurate, former chief of staff Reince Priebus said. In fact, Priebus said, those reports understated the truth of the Trump administration’s beginnings.

“Take everything you’ve heard and multiply it by 50,” Priebus told author Chris Whipple, whose book on White House chiefs of staff, “The Gatekeepers,” will be released in paperback next month with a new chapter on the Trump administration. Excerpts of the new chapter were published Wednesday by Vanity Fair.

Priebus, a former head of the Republican National Committee who oversaw the party’s seizure of both chambers of Congress and the White House, lasted just six months as Trump’s chief of staff, a period that ranked among the most tumultuous times of any modern American presidency. Reports of infighting and confusion during Priebus’ tenure as chief of staff were nearly ubiquitous, which Priebus himself blamed on outside forces, the president’s unique personality and his ambitious agenda.

“No president has ever had to deal with so much so fast: a special counsel and an investigation into Russia and then subpoenas immediately, the media insanity,” Priebus said. “Not to mention we were pushing out executive orders at record pace and trying to repeal and replace Obamacare right out of the gate.”

The former chief of staff recalled the blistering 6 a.m. phone call he received from Trump on the morning after the inauguration, wherein the president demanded Priebus begin his first full day in the West Wing pushing back against reports that Trump’s swearing-in had not been as well-attended as his predecessor’s. That day, which culminated with then-press secretary Sean Spicer’s much-ridiculed declaration from the briefing room podium that the president’s inauguration had featured the “largest audience to ever witness an inauguration — period,” cost the Trump administration precious credibility and set the tone for a combative first year in office.

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SOURCE: Politico, Louis Nelson