It was a wild six months for Sean Spicer, long before Friday’s resignation. A Rhode Island native, Spicer was well known among D.C. insiders before he took the White House role. But in the months since, he became more familiar to the average American than nearly any US senator or governor.
From his first full day on the job, when he sparred with reporters about the size of the inauguration crowds, he was the administration’s best-known face, perpetually fighting against established facts to the point he became something of a punching bag — infotainment for the TV-watching masses.
Repeatedly, Spicer would say one thing about Trump’s position only to be later contradicted by the president. Eventually, Spicer would no longer travel with Trump. Then he no longer gave press briefings, with that duty going to deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. Finally, this week, over Spicer’s reported objection, Trump selected New York financier Anthony Scaramucci to communications director — or, more to the point, to be Spicer’s boss. Amid a string of humiliating moments that were the hallmark of Spicer’s short tenure, this one was, apparently, the final straw.
Now the question becomes, who might follow him out the door? Within minutes of the Spicer news breaking, attention moved to the future of White House chief of staff Reince Priebus. Priebus and Spicer worked closely at the Republican National Committee for years. It was said that Priebus installed Spicer to be the press secretary even despite Trump’s concerns because Priebus was that insistent that Trump hire a loyal soldier.
In a White House rife with competing power centers, the Priebus-Spicer bond was solid.
So now what happens to Priebus? He, too, objected to the Scaramucci hiring. And it’s been increasingly clear that he has been losing power in the West Wing. For months, Trump has discussed replacing Priebus. Reportedly, the president would have done so by now had he known of someone who would take the job. Whether Trump will want a chief of staff whose advice he rarely takes is the biggest question facing the White House this afternoon. And without his closest ally, will Priebus even want to stay?
James Pindell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @jamespindell or subscribe to his Ground Game newsletter on politics:http://pages.email.bostonglobe.com/GroundGameSignUp.