All of which is to say that Scaramucci’s style is a far cry from the buttoned-up culture Priebus was accustomed to from working at the Republican National Committee. Really, the whole White House is. “Their culture just doesn’t fit into Trump’s New York reality TV world,” said Rick Tyler, a Republican consultant and former spokesman for Texas Senator Ted Cruz. “What we’ll get in the future is more [Trump] mini-mes, Scaramucci types.”
“Reince was doomed from the beginning,” Tyler added.
Priebus was never truly empowered as chief of staff to control the White House, a product perhaps of Trump’s freewheeling management style. His weak position was only underscored when Scaramucci announced that he would be reporting directly to the president—not, as is typical, to the chief of staff. But Priebus was one of few White House senior aides who had seen the levers of Washington power up close and knew how to work them. A Wisconsin Republican, he was particularly close with House Speaker Paul Ryan, and his connections on Capitol Hill could have proved a boon for the White House.
But in the end they didn’t: The latest setback in Trump’s legislative agenda came in the wee hours of Friday morning, when the Republicans’ last-ditch attempt to repeal parts of the Affordable Care Act failed in the Senate. “Legislatively, this presidency is over,” Tyler said. “Nothing is gonna happen in Congress because they lack the skill set to do it.”
As president, Trump is the de facto leader of the Republican Party. But in truth, he’s a johnny-come-lately to GOP politics, and his relationships with the party establishment have been fraught, to say the least. It seems doubtful they’ll improve with Priebus gone.
“Reince was the person with the relationships with the national committee, the members [of Congress], and a lot of the donors,” said Trygve Olson, a Republican strategist who comes from the same Wisconsin political class that Priebus does. “The question becomes, who will fill that void in the White House now?”
Olson wondered whether Trump’s break with Priebus and other RNC-aligned aides meant the president would now turn away from the traditionally conservative agenda he had been pursuing. Upon Scaramucci’s hiring last week, Sean Spicer, the press secretary and a key Priebus ally, resigned; in the spring, Priebus’s deputy Katie Walsh, who’d worked with him at the RNC, had also left.
“Does this mean Trump’s gonna pivot to a much more independent, populist place?” Olson asked. “I think at the end of the day, the problem he faces is that the Republican Party as a coalition has got pieces that are incongruent with each other.”
Michael Steele, the former chairman of the RNC, also predicted that Priebus’s departure would create greater ideological distance between Trump and the GOP. “The White House is looking to create, ultimately, a separation. It wants to be independent of the party, because it sees the party as an anchor to its agenda and not a balloon,” he said. Steele added that Trump “didn’t give a rats patootie about Obamacare”—despite his demands that congressional Republicans repeal it—and is “agnostic on health care.”