Timeline: Trump's relationship with Priebus

Timeline: Trump's relationship with Priebus
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President TrumpDonald John TrumpAustralia recognizes West Jerusalem as Israeli capital, won't move embassy Mulvaney will stay on as White House budget chief Trump touts ruling against ObamaCare: ‘Mitch and Nancy’ should pass new health-care law MORE revealed on Friday one of the most drastic shake-ups of his White House staff to date, proclaiming with a tweet that Reince Priebus was out as his chief of staff, replaced by Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly.

In announcing that Kelly, a retired Marine general, would succeed Priebus, Trump put to rest months of speculation about the now-former chief of staff's future in a White House marred by controversy and leaks.

Since the beginning, Priebus was a relative outsider in Trump's circle of confidantes, aides and advisers. A former Republican National Committee chairman, Priebus was a member of the political establishment that Trump railed against during his insurgent presidential campaign.


In fact, Priebus' relationship with Trump has long been marked by ups and downs. In serving a president who is said to value absolute loyalty from his aides, Priebus faced criticism for his more critical remarks about Trump and reportedly never gained the president's full confidence.

Here's a look back at the relationship between Trump and Priebus:

July 2015: Priebus tells Trump to tone it down

Less than a month after Trump announced his presidential bid with a bombastic speech disparaging Mexican immigrants, Priebus called the real estate mogul to ask him to tone down his rhetoric.

At the time, Trump cast the phone call with the then-RNC chairman as more of a "congratulatory" conversation.

But in an interview with The Hill weeks later, he railed against the GOP for not being supportive of his campaign and threatened to mount a third-party run for the White House if he felt he was being treated unfairly during the 2016 primaries. 

In September, concerned that an independent campaign by Trump could draw support away from the eventual Republican nominee, the RNC asked each of the party's candidates to sign a loyalty pledge vowing not to run as third-party option. Trump signed onto the agreement.

Dec. 2015: Priebus condemns Trump’s proposed Muslim ban

In the wake of the 2015 terrorist attack in San Bernardino, Calif., Trump called for a "total and complete" ban on Muslims entering the U.S. 

The proposal drew immediate backlash from many across the party spectrum, and Priebus was no exception. 

"I don't agree," Priebus told the Washington Examiner in an interview at the time. "We need to aggressively take on radical Islamic terrorism but not at the expense of our American values."

March 2016: Trump claims unfair GOP treatment, followed by 'very nice meeting'

After an initial loss in the Iowa Republican caucuses, Trump began racking up a series of wins in the GOP primaries.

But at a CNN televised town hall event in March, the real estate mogul insisted that he was being 'treated very unfairly' by the RNC and reneged on the loyalty pledge that he had signed months earlier.

Trump, however, appeared to drastically change his tone on the party after meeting with Priebus soon after, writing on Twitter that the two men had a "very nice meeting" and calling for a unified Republican Party.

That tone, however, shifted once again in April, when Trump derided the GOP's nominating process as a "scam," pointing to how Colorado awarded all its GOP delegates to Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzBiden team discussed 2020 run with O'Rourke as VP: report Pollster says likely Dem 2020 nominee has not emerged in national conversation yet O’Rourke links border wall with increase in migrant deaths MORE (R-Texas) without holding a primary vote.

“It's a disgrace for the party. And Reince Priebus should be ashamed of himself," Trump told The Hill at the time. "He should be ashamed of himself because he knows what's going on.”

April 2016: Priebus calls on GOP contenders to back eventual nominee, even if it’s Trump

Priebus brushed off Trump's allegations of a rigged nominating process and called on the Republican Party to unit behind the eventual nominee, regardless of whom it ended up being.

At the time, Trump led the GOP field in delegates and was emerging as the party's likely nominee. 

May 2016: Priebus defends Trump's gaffes and controversies

Trump sparked an uproar on the Internet after he tweeted a photo of himself eating a taco bowl and proclaiming, "I love Hispanics" in honor of Cinco de Mayo.  

“He’s trying. Honestly, he’s trying," Priebus told Politico at the time, saying Trump's tweet was an attempt to expand the Republican Party and grow its voter base. 

And when reports emerged that Trump posed as his own spokesman in the 1980s, Priebus shrugged it off as "a little bit odd."

"But I will just tell you I think of all the things facing this country right now, and after being through this primary for a year, I can assure you that that particular issue is not going to move the electorate,” he said on CBS's "Face the Nation."

In an interview with ABC's Jonathan Karl, Priebus explained that the controversies surrounding Trump simply didn't matter. Voters, he said, see Trump as a political outsider capable of shaking up the establishment.

July 2016: Priebus praises Trump at the Republican National Convention

On the eve of the convention, Priebus vouched for the softer side of Trump, saying in an interview with NBC's Chuck Todd that the candidate would be unstoppable if the public got to know the side of Trump that he had gotten to know.

That comment was followed by a doting speech at the RNC, in which he praised Trump as the "right man to lead" the party to victory. 

"With Donald Trump and Mike PenceMichael (Mike) Richard PenceTrump, Pelosi, Schumer: No adult in the room Anti-wall is not a border policy: How Democrats can sell an immigration plan Protesters host dance party outside Stephen Miller's home MORE, America is ready for a comeback after almost a decade of Clinton-Obama failures," he said.

August 2016: Priebus incensed that Trump wouldn’t endorse Ryan, McCain

Priebus was reportedly furious with Trump's refusal to endorse House Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanThe Hill's 12:30 Report – Cohen says Trump knew payments were wrong | GOP in turmoil over Trump shutdown threat | Kyl to resign from Senate at year's end Trump leaves GOP in turmoil with shutdown looming Senate heads toward floor fight on criminal justice bill MORE's (R-Wis.) and Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainKevin McLaughlin tapped to serve as NRSC executive director for 2020 Kasich on death of 7-year-old in Border Patrol custody: 'Shame on Congress' Arizona governor eyes several possible Kyl replacements MORE's (R-Ariz.) re-election bids.

According to an NBC News report, the RNC chair called then-Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and other senior staffers to voice his "extreme displeasure" with the real estate mogul's snubs.

Trump had previously declared that he was "not quite there yet" in terms of supporting Ryan, and had spoken critically of McCain. 

Priebus also called Trump himself to express frustration with the real estate mogul's public derisions of the family of a fallen Army captain, after the soldier's father, Khizr Khan, criticized Trump in a speech at the Democratic National Convention.

October 2016: Priebus denounces Trump's comments after controversial 'Access Hollywood' tape release

After The Washington Post published a 2005 recording of Trump boasting that his celebrity status allowed him to grope and kiss women without their permission, Priebus was quick to condemn Trump's behavior.

"No woman should ever be described in these terms or talked about in this manner. Ever," Priebus said in a statement.

But later that month, the RNC chairman voiced resounding confidence in his party's presidential nominee, declaring on CBS' "Face the Nation" that Trump "is going to win."

November 2016: Trump wins the election

Trump overcame the predictions of pollsters and pundits in November, taking several key swing states and emerging victorious over Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonLanny Davis says Nixon had more respect for the Constitution than Trump Clinton commemorates Sandy Hook anniversary: 'No child should have to fear violence' Sanders, Warren meet ahead of potential 2020 bids MORE.

During his victory speech in the early morning hours of Nov. 9, Trump invited Priebus to join him on the stage, a move seen as a sign of improving relations between the two men.

Days later, Priebus was tapped to serve as chief of staff under Trump, prompting his exit from the RNC and setting him up to become one of the most powerful aides in the White House.

February-July 2016

Trump's first weeks in office were marred by a series of controversies, notably his decision just a week into office to sign an executive order barring people from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S.

But also facing the Trump administration were mounting questions about Russia's role in the 2016 election and possible ties between the Trump campaign and Moscow. Compounding those questions were leaks coming from within the White House, revealing embarrassing internal struggles and policy deliberations.

Priebus reportedly became a frequent target for Trump's ire as internal White House strife spilled into the public. 

In April, Axios reported that the president was considering ousting both Priebus and his chief strategist Steve Bannon, though he did not act on that idea at the time.

That prospect of Priebus' ouster was raised again in June, when Politico reported that Trump had given his chief of staff a July 4 deadline to stymie the flow of leaks and quell disorder in the White House.

Again, Trump seemed to blow past that self-imposed deadline.

With the president's decision to name Anthony Scaramucci, an ardent ally and Wall Street financier, as his communications director last week, Priebus' future at the White House appeared increasingly imperiled. 

Priebus' former RNC colleague, Sean Spicer, stepped down as White House press secretary after Scaramucci's appointment, and another RNC alum, Michael Short, left his job as a White House press aide on Tuesday after Scaramucci revealed in an interview with Politico that he planned on firing him.

Scaramucci's public attacks on Priebus came to a head on Thursday, when The New Yorker published an interview with the new communications director, in which he called Priebus a "f-----g paranoid schizophrenic" and acknowledged that he wanted to force the chief of staff out.

July 2016: 'Good man' Priebus resigns, is replaced by 'star' Kelly

After returning to Washington from a speech in Long Island, N.Y. on Friday, Trump tweeted that he had named Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly as his new chief of staff and later thanked Priebus for his service.

Stepping off of Air Force One, Trump told reporters that Priebus was a "good man," but hailed Kelly as a "star" and a "great, great American."

Priebus later said that he had given his resignation on Thursday. 

In an interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer shortly after news of his resignation broke, Priebus offered kind words for Trump and cast his resignation as a sort of reset for the administration.

"I'm always going to be a Trump fan, I'm on Team Trump,” Priebus said. “I think the president wanted to go a different direction. I support him in that.”