- The Washington Times - Monday, July 31, 2017

President Trump and new Chief of Staff John F. Kelly forced out White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci on Monday, just 10 days after he was hired, in a move that showed the swift concentration of power behind Mr. Kelly.

The stunning move to oust Mr. Scaramucci was made just hours after Mr. Trump swore in Mr. Kelly, the former homeland security secretary and a retired four-star Marine Corps general whose aim is to bring order to an undisciplined White House.

Mr. Trump had hired Mr. Scaramucci, a friend and wealthy Wall Street financier, to give a more savvy and robust defense of his agenda, especially on television. But aides said Mr. Trump was unhappy with Mr. Scaramucci’s profanity-laced tirade to a New Yorker magazine writer last week in which he disparaged then-White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and presidential strategist Steve Bannon.

One source close to Mr. Trump said the vulgar display embarrassed the president and his family.

“The president certainly felt that Anthony’s comments were inappropriate for a person in that position,” said White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. She also said Mr. Trump “didn’t want to burden Gen. Kelly” with questions about chain of command in the West Wing, where Mr. Scaramucci had boasted that he was granted direct access to the president.

A Republican source close to the White House said the ouster of Mr. Scaramucci “was a top order of business for Kelly as a new chief of staff.”

“Scaramucci quickly became an embarrassing distraction who did not know anything about the job,” the source said. “The only reason Trump wanted him to have the job was to go on TV, but not outshine him with negative publicity.”

Mrs. Sanders said Mr. Scaramucci “felt it was best to give Chief of Staff John Kelly a clean slate and the ability to build his own team.”

“We wish him all the best,” she said, adding that Mr. Scaramucci’s departure was a mutual decision between him and Mr. Trump.

Another source with knowledge of West Wing operations said the move showed that Mr. Trump was empowering Mr. Kelly to make all staff decisions.

It was the third staff shake-up in the West Wing since July 21, when Mr. Trump’s hiring of Mr. Scaramucci prompted the resignation of White House press secretary Sean Spicer. Mr. Spicer told the president that hiring the Washington novice was a mistake and told colleagues that he didn’t want to report to Mr. Scaramucci.

Mr. Scaramucci promptly embarked on a public campaign to embarrass Mr. Priebus with the blessing of the president, who had grown to view Mr. Priebus as weak and ineffective while Mr. Trump’s legislative agenda got mired in Congress and leaks gushed from the West Wing. Mr. Priebus resigned on Thursday, and Mr. Trump announced the hiring of Mr. Kelly.

The vacancy created by Mr. Kelly’s departure from the Homeland Security Department has fueled speculation that Mr. Trump will try to shift another imperiled administration official, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, into that post. But Mrs. Sanders said Monday that there are no such plans and that Mr. Trump has “100 percent confidence” in all his Cabinet members.

“There are no conversations about any Cabinet members moving in any capacity,” she said.

She made the declaration after Mr. Trump held a Cabinet meeting with Mr. Kelly in his new role, and with Mr. Sessions seated directly across the conference table from the president. Mr. Trump has been bashing Mr. Sessions in recent weeks as “weak” for having recused himself from any Russia investigations. The two men did not have any interaction while reporters were present.

The president refuted reports of internal warring in the West Wing, tweeting “No WH chaos!”

But insiders say Mr. Kelly’s disciplined approach is needed and that the president has allowed too many of his aides, including daughter Ivanka and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, to work outside a normal chain of command in which all White House employees report through the chief of staff. One Republican with knowledge of West Wing operations said the move is encouraging.

“It appears Kelly will be a more empowered chief of staff,” the source said. “Time will tell, but this is a good sign for the West Wing.”

Ivanka Trump said on Twitter that she is “looking forward to serving alongside John Kelly as we work for the American people.”

“General Kelly is a true American hero,” she said.

The president praised Mr. Kelly on Monday morning for his performance at the Department of Homeland Security in reducing illegal immigration significantly at the Mexican border.

“At Homeland, what he’s done has been nothing short of miraculous,” the president said. “The border was a tremendous problem, and now [there is] close to 80 percent stoppage. I have no doubt that he will be an absolutely superb chief of staff.”

The president is leaning heavily on military brass in his administration, including Defense Secretary James Mattis, a retired Marine Corps general who has worked closely over the years with Mr. Kelly, and Army Gen. H.R. McMaster, who is White House national security adviser.

Mr. Trump said Mr. Kelly did such a good job at Homeland Security that even Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto noted the difference on illegal immigration trends in a recent conversation with him.

“The president of Mexico called me and said [at] their southern border, very few people are coming because they know they’re not going to get through our border, which is the ultimate compliment,” Mr. Trump said.

Eager to tamp down reports of White House dysfunction amid the flurry of staff changes, Mr. Trump said his administration has done well in its first six months, particularly on the economy.

“The stock market is the highest it’s ever been, unemployment [is] lowest in 17 years, companies are doing tremendously well,” he said. “Business spirit is the highest it’s ever been, according to polls. We have a tremendous base, a tremendous group of support.”

He said “the country is optimistic, and I think the general will just add to it. We will proceed, and we will keep going.”

Mr. Trump said the media didn’t pay enough attention on Friday to a Commerce Department report showing that the economy grew in the second quarter by a strong 2.6 percent, more than double the rate of the first three months of this year.

“Overall, I think we’re doing incredibly well, the economy is doing incredibly well,” Mr. Trump said. “We’re starting from a really good base. We’re going to work hard, and we’re going to make America great again. That’s how we won this big election, and that’s what we’re in the process of doing.”

But even for a White House that has been hit with numerous resignations and dismissals in the first six months, the 10-day downfall of Mr. Scaramucci was breathtaking.

The former hedge fund manager has criticized Washington’s back-stabbing and called himself “more of a front-stabbing person.”

“He’s rich, and he’s good on TV,” said a source who knows both the president and Mr. Scaramucci. “First two ways to [Mr. Trump’s] heart.”

But even as he was helping to orchestrate the ouster of Mr. Priebus, Mr. Scaramucci committed what many viewed as a communications blunder by giving the expletive-filled interview with The New Yorker in which he called Mr. Priebus a “paranoid schizophrenic” and accused Mr. Bannon of building his own brand at the president’s expense.

For a front-stabber, it looked like the very type of Washington sneak attack that Mr. Scaramucci said he rejects.

“I sometimes use colorful language,” Mr. Scaramucci said last week on Twitter. “I will refrain in this arena but not give up the passionate fight for @realDonaldTrump’s agenda.”

After his rant in The New Yorker interview, Mr. Scaramucci accompanied Mr. Trump Friday on a trip to Long Island, New York, where Mr. Scaramucci grew up. Mr. Scaramucci was at the White House on Monday morning and was seen by reporters in the room after Mr. Kelly was sworn in.

Mr. Scaramucci has been married twice; his second wife, Deirdre, filed for divorce shortly before she gave birth last week to their second son.

S.A. Miller contributed to this report.

• Dave Boyer can be reached at dboyer@washingtontimes.com.

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