Trump returns to Kushner-focused crisis that the White House is struggling trying to contain

The New York Times reports: Trump’s advisers were working to create a crisis-control communications operation within the White House to separate the Russia investigations and related scandals from the administration’s day-to-day themes and the work of governing, according to several people familiar with their plans and who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to divulge the details of a still-evolving strategy.

Aides are talking about bringing Corey Lewandowski, Mr. Trump’s former campaign manager, and David Bossie, his former deputy campaign manager, onto the White House staff to manage the war room.

Under the evolving scenario, Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, would take a diminished public role, with daily on-camera briefings replaced by more limited interactions with journalists, while Mr. Trump would seize more opportunities to communicate directly with his core supporters through campaign rallies, social media appearances such as Facebook Live videos, and interviews with friendly news media outlets.

The president, who has more than 30 million followers on Twitter, has been told by his lawyers to limit his posts. Each one, they argue privately, could be used as evidence in a legal case against him, and the president went through his entire overseas trip without posting a single incendiary message.

Among those most adamant about limiting Mr. Trump’s access to the news media was Mr. Kushner, who has been critical internally of the White House press operation and has sought to marginalize Mr. Spicer, whom he views as too undisciplined to control the president’s message. Mr. Kushner has also favored creating a rapid-response team to counter reports like the ones that emerged on Friday [about Kushner].

In a move that many in the West Wing viewed as emblematic of his attempt to wrest control of communications from Mr. Spicer and Mr. Priebus, Mr. Kushner displaced an operations official from the office across the hall from his own and installed his personal spokesman, Josh Raffel, in his place, according to two people familiar with the matter. [Continue reading…]

The Washington Post reports: Underscoring the uncertainty of what lies ahead, some Trump associates said there have been conversations about dispatching Priebus to serve as ambassador to Greece — his mother is of Greek descent — as a face-saving way to remove him from the White House. A White House spokeswoman strongly denied that possibility Saturday.

The president has expressed frustration — both publicly and privately — with his communications team, ahead of the expected overhaul.

Though no final decisions have been made, one option being discussed is having Spicer — who has been parodied on NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” to devastating effect — take a more behind-the-scenes role and give up his daily, on-camera briefings.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the deputy White House press secretary, is being considered as a replacement behind the lectern and is likely to appear on camera more often in coming weeks. White House aides have also talked about having a rotating cast of staff brief the media, a group that could include officials such as national security adviser H.R. McMaster. Having several aides share the briefing responsibilities could help prevent Trump — who has a notoriously short attention span — from growing bored or angry with any one staffer. [Continue reading…]

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