“Everything is in play.”
A big shake-up could be coming to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., and it could drastically change how the Trump administration deals with the media.
According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, the president has been looking at restructuring options to better respond to a special counsel investigating his campaign’s ties to Russia. Strategizing for the potential reshuffle took up most of his free time while he was overseas in the Middle East and Europe, and one Trump adviser says that “everything is in play.”
Meetings are scheduled for next week to finalize the plans.
One of the first major proposals from administration officials, according to CBS News, is the establishment of “rapid response messaging teams” specifically to respond to the media narrative on the Russia investigation.
“One idea under consideration, according to a GOP source close to the White House, is the formation of an outside group to handle all Russia-related inquiries, freeing up the existing communications team inside the White House to focus on moving Mr. Trump’s governing agenda forward,” CBS reported.
The source said that the team should take inspiration from how Bill Clinton handled the media.
“The inside-outside effort needs to take a page from Clinton’s operation when they were battling Monica Lewinsky,” the source said. “They had an internal mechanism to direct all calls and incoming (questions) to a crisis containment center, in order to use the communications office — the White House press office — as offense.”
Another part of the shakeup involves firing White House leakers, who sources say have been identified and are about to be dismissed.
“You have no idea how paranoid it makes people,” a White House official, speaking (with no small degree of irony) anonymously, told CBS.
Two major names that may be added are Corey Lewandowski and David Bossie, Trump’s first campaign manager, and deputy campaign manager, respectively. The president has talked to both of them, but it’s unclear whether or not they’ll be added to the White House team.
And, as for who might be on the outs, there’s one name that always pops up in these stories — press secretary Sean Spicer.
“While Spicer has high ratings, it’s difficult to get the message out to the clutter and it’s serving as a device to beat him up,” one White House source said.
One possibility is that Spicer could be replaced by deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. Another possibility — not mutually exclusive, mind you — is that press briefings could be cut down dramatically or eliminated entirely: “Trump does not find value in them anymore,” the source added.
Instead of press briefings, one messaging proposal has the president ramping up campaign-style rallies throughout the summer.
Whether or not any of this comes to pass is debatable. We’ve heard the shakeup rumors from the media over and over again over the past few months; Spicer is almost invariably mentioned, but the amateur Trumpologists in the mainstream media have also written off Steve Bannon, Kellyanne Conway and others.
The Wall Street Journal’s report sounds a bit more credible than the rest, but Trump administration shake-ups are a bit like rumors of a Smiths reunion: let me know when it actually happens.
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