Breitbart puts Priebus on notice

Breitbart puts Priebus on notice
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Breitbart News, the populist right-wing website once led by President Trump’s chief strategist Stephen Bannon, published a blistering report on Tuesday blaming chief of staff Reince Priebus for administration stumbles and speculating that his time in the White House may be short. 

Matthew Boyle, Breitbart's Washington political editor, citing unnamed sources close to the president, reported that Priebus may be next on the chopping block after the Monday night resignation of national security adviser Michael Flynn.

The unnamed sources in the report allege that Priebus is responsible for the rocky rollout and legal troubles that have ensnared the president’s executive action that temporarily bans people from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States as well as suspends refugee resettlement.

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The Breitbart sources said Priebus was brought into the White House for his connections to Capitol Hill, and is therefore responsible for the slow pace of Cabinet confirmations and the early reluctance by GOP lawmakers to tackle Trump’s big-ticket initiatives.

And they blamed Priebus for the damaging leaks coming out of the White House. One unnamed Breitbart source described the leakers as a network of “sleeper cells” and said that Priebus knows who the offenders are but has refused to do anything about them.

“All of this could derail Trump’s presidency if he doesn’t fix it soon, and quickly bring in someone new as Chief of Staff who can smooth out the rocky start and get things back on track sooner rather than later,” Boyle wrote.

The broadside against Priebus and his allies, including White House press secretary Sean Spicer, comes amid ongoing reports of a power struggle between competing spheres of influence within the White House.

There is a seemingly daily struggle playing out in anonymously sourced media reports between the Bannon and Priebus camps in the White House over whose political power is on the rise, who is to blame for missteps and who might become a casualty of Trump’s management style, which is famously driven by pitting opposing forces against one another.

Bannon has a powerful ally in his former news outlet, which relishes making life difficult for more establishment GOP leaders like Priebus and Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanAppeals court rules House chaplain can reject secular prayers FEC filing: No individuals donated to indicted GOP rep this cycle The Hill's Morning Report - Waiting on Mueller: Answers come on Thursday MORE (R-Wis.). 

Bannon has brought several former Breitbart News reporters into the White House with him. He is also said to be close with Jared Kushner, Trump's son-in-law and a White House aide, and works closely with policy adviser Stephen Miller, whom Trump praised this week for defending his executive actions on the Sunday morning political talk shows. Over the weekend, Breitbart ran a story featuring prominent conservatives like Sean Hannity and Ann Coulter praising Miller.

The Priebus wing, meanwhile, entered the White House facing deep suspicion from the Breitbart contingent and others in Trump’s inner circle, who view the former Republican National Committee chairman as a representative of the GOP establishment.

Priebus backed Trump in the primary even before he became the party’s official nominee, but there has long been a sense among the president’s true believers that he was never fully on board.

Breitbart’s report is further evidence that key figures in the national populist movement would love to see Priebus jettisoned from the president’s inner circle. That starts with casting blame on Priebus for high-profile White House stumbles in a news outlet that the president likes to read.

“Multiple sources close to President Trump with internal knowledge of White House operations told Breitbart News on Monday night that the buck stops with Priebus when it comes to the botched rollout of the executive order temporarily banning most travel to the United States from seven nations with a history of exporting terrorism and temporarily halting the refugee program,” Boyle wrote.

“These sources with inner workings of the White House and others independently confirm that President Trump has been privately critical of Priebus in many settings, asking questions about his performance in the position. That’s not all: Others say that Priebus is having a seriously difficult time communicating with all sides of the Republican Party, and cannot effectively build relationships across the divide to unite the Trump coalition.”

Breitbart’s claim that Priebus is responsible for the the slow Cabinet confirmation process on Capitol Hill earned a testy rebuke from Spicer, who only days earlier sat with the news outlet for an exclusive interview in the White House.

“What are you talking about? What possibly could have been done to get [attorney general] Sessions done quicker? Is there some way he could have made Democrats vote?” Spicer said in an email to Boyle.

Trump went out of his way this week to gave Priebus a public vote of confidence after one of his friends, Newsmax founder Chris Ruddy, said Priebus looked like he is in over his head.

“Reince is doing a great job. Not a good job. A great job,” Trump told reporters.

Ruddy later walked the remarks back — albeit, according to Axios, only after a "pleading call" from Priebus.

Ruddy's remarks and Breitbart's story aren't the only signs that some aligned with Trump want Priebus out. Roger Stone Jr., an informal Trump adviser, tweeted Tuesday that Priebus had organized a "purge" of Flynn that represented a new "Pearl Harbor" for Trump allies.