As President Donald Trump’s White House attempts to embark on a period of order and discipline, many in Washington are greeting the news with a collective eye roll.
At the start of Trump’s third week in office, top advisers are trying to move beyond the infighting and feuds inside the West Wing, which have alarmed Republicans and official Washington far more than the President himself.
White House chief of staff Reince Priebus is asserting more authority to run things, administration officials say, in hopes of trying to “keep things running smoothly” after a rocky and active first two weeks.
The administration has privately pledged to do a better job of keeping relevant government agencies and congressional allies in the loop when rolling out executive actions and legislative priorities a far cry from the sloppy implementation of Trump’s travel ban. That experience left aides cringing at the public beating they were taking, and personally irritated Trump.
“The first 10 days there’s a bit of learning the ropes for any incoming administration,” said Jason Miller, a former spokesman for Trump’s presidential campaign. “They’re going to be finding their sea legs and getting everything nailed down.”
Privately, lobbyists, congressional staffers and other GOP political operatives said they’re dubious that an orderly White House is on the horizon.
“I just don’t see how the leopard changes his spots,” said one GOP operative, who declined to be named because this person didn’t want to appear to be rooting against the President. “He got to the job by drinking rocket fuel, and now people are wondering if he can sit down and delegate and be a responsible executive.”
Within the White House, Trump’s team has been more intent on quashing stories about turf wars and internal conflict than actually resolving them, said a top Republican close to the administration.
“The President’s priority was to move quickly to deliver on bold promises he made on the campaign trail.
When he saw the backlash over the travel ban, he aimed to correct the process by tapping Priebus to run point going forward.
It’s a cyclical pattern that Republicans close to the White House predict will dominate at least the first year of his administration.
“We’ve been punked enough times,” said one Republican operative in Washington, who spoke anonymously because this person works with the White House. “The only thing that can change him is the weight of the office. And hopefully it begins to weigh on him.”
Trump may be largely immune to this kind of volatility, but everyone surrounding him is not. A number of former campaign staffers are seeking job opportunities within government agencies — even as positions within the White House remain unfilled — to distance themselves from the “West Wing circus,” according to a person familiar with the situation.