Erick Erickson reports that two White House sources tell him Reince Priebus’s departure as White House chief of staff is imminent. If so, the move won’t come as a surprise. Priebus makes a convenient fall guy for the turmoil that at times seems to engulf the Trump White House.
Assuming Priebus is axed within the next six weeks, it would be interesting to know whether any chief of staff has failed to survive a president’s first half year in office.
I’m not a fan of Priebus. He was a driving force behind the GOP establishment’s decision, following the 2012 defeat, that the party’s success depended on appealing to Hispanic voters by, among other things, supporting amnesty and a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants. Ironically, and unhappily in my view, that decision helped pave the way for Donald Trump’s rise.
Priebus seems like a competent administrator, though. As Erickson says, “he restored [the RNC’s] fiscal footing. He dove deep into technological upgrades. He was not successful at pushing aside all the consultant corruption within the GOP campaign machine, but he did his best.”
I believe that under a normal president, Priebus would have performed okay or better as chief-of-staff. Under our abnormal one, it remains to be seen whether anyone can do so.
Erickson says he hasn’t been told who will succeed Priebus, or whether Trump has settled on a replacement. However, one name circulating in the media is lobbyist David Urban, who once served as chief of staff to Arlen Specter.
Selecting Urban wouldn’t warm the hearts of conservatives. Indeed, many would consider this a step in the wrong direction.
On the plus side is this: Arlen Specter was notoriously difficult to work for. In that sense, if no other, Urban’s time as Specter’s chief-of-staff qualifies him to be Trump’s.
The other name one hears is Gary Cohn, the Democrat. Cohn already has considerable influence on policy, to the dismay of many conservatives. As chief of staff, he would be in a position, potentially, to shield the president from conservative voices.
We might well end up missing Priebus if he goes.
UPDATE: I’m hearing positive things off-the-record about Urban from some in the populist conservative movement. Others say he’s a quintessential lobbyist-insider.
I don’t know much about the guy, so I’m taking no position except to say that he seems clearly preferable to Cohn.