The top candidates emerging from inside the White House, multiple officials said, are director of strategic communications Mercedes Schlapp, a veteran of the George W. Bush administration who has become a Kelly ally in his battle against Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner; and Tony Sayegh, assistant secretary for public affairs at the Treasury Department... There is also a broad internal base of support for press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders to take on the job, adding overall messaging strategy.. The communications shop has long been one of the rockiest departments in the West Wing, with the top job there viewed now as a thankless task of overseeing messaging for a message-resistant, Twitter-happy president... Trump likes to revive names from his original, campaign inner circle.. Jason Miller, a veteran of the 2016 campaign, has been floated internally as a potential candidate for the job. Miller was first tapped for the communications director job during the transition in 2016, but was unable to take the job for personal reasons. He has managed to remain a favorite of the president, though, for his Trump-defending commentary on CNN... the role Hicks played is not replaceable — she was one of Trump’s closest confidantes, serving as a resource for colleagues who relied on her help reading the president’s moods.
He likes controversy, but he isn’t all that fond of conflict... He relishes stirring up controversy, and, in fact, believes stirring the pot advances his reputation as an outside agitator and improves his position by keeping adversaries off balance. But he usually keeps controversy at arm’s length, using his Twitter feed or offhand comments to attack and posture... Thus, he angrily withdrew the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact, but then he walked into the very den of economic globalists at the World Economic Forum in Davos last week to say that he is prepared to negotiate a new version of it... He ordered the U.S. out of the Paris accord on climate change, but told British interviewer Piers Morgan over the weekend that, thanks in part to the personal intervention of French President Emmanuel Macron, who, “as you know, I like,” he might rejoin the accord... When he is standing apart from negotiations over a new immigration system, he denigrates his Democratic counterparts, saying they have no interest in securing the border and are “only interested” in obstruction. But in a room with congressional leaders he sounded ready to do a deal with them, and even provide political cover for those who agreed.. He also complains openly about other aides, including Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and the White House chief of staff, John Kelly. But he then promptly backs away and praises them, as if he had never whacked the hornet’s nest in the first place. When he wants someone to leave, he is more likely to drop hints he wants them to depart on their own, or have someone else send them overboard, than to fire them himself.
.. “Donald Trump enjoys controversy and to a degree thrives on it,” says Christopher Ruddy, chief executive of Newsmax Media and a presidential friend. “Controversy helps ratings, taking a page from his very successful showbiz career.”
.. The problem is that the president’s allies and enemies alike, at home and abroad, have a hard time figuring out where bluster ends and reality begins... Jason Miller, who was communications director for the Trump presidential campaign and remains in touch with the White House, suggests viewing the president’s approach as a “one-two negotiating tactic…Tweets are a one-way written message delivery vehicle to lay down markers, while in-person meetings are an opportunity to show progress and cooperation that get us one step closer to the desired outcome.”
.. some of the president’s senior advisers have recently begun a study of the Democratic administration of former President Bill Clinton, examining how it managed to push through major, bipartisan budgets and reform bills, despite being the subject of an independent counsel’s probe for five of its eight years... Mr. Trump’s aides have also been pressing for more restraint by the president on Twitter ,and some weeks ago they organized what one official called an “intervention.”.. In that meeting, aides warned Mr. Trump that certain kinds of comments made on Twitter would “paint him into a corner,” both in terms of political messaging and legally.. A coterie of former campaign associates, including David Bossie, Anthony Scaramucci, Jason Miller and Corey Lewandowski, were spotted.. described the White House currently as a “toxic work environment.”.. “The president goes through moods where sometimes he wants to blow everything up,”.. the administration hasn’t lined up successors for the people Mr. Trump has considered firing.. The aides’ recommendation to Mr. Trump: cite the continuing investigation, then pivot to the economy, health care and taxes... Ken Duberstein, a former chief of staff to former President Ronald Reagan, said in an interview that he used to urge the GOP president not to respond to questions that reporters might throw his way involving the Iran-Contra scandal.“You can’t go off on a tangent. You can’t answer the sound bite gotcha questions,” Mr. Duberstein said.
He said Mr. Trump should not “take the bait of a shouted question or the shiny silver dollar of being able to tweet. Because then the rest of the agenda gets left on the cutting room floor.”
Though Mr. Trump’s practice has been to disparage the press at rallies, in Mr. Miller he had elevated someone who largely took a less-confrontational, more traditional approach in dealings with reporters.
.. Mr. Miller said his duties as communications director will be handled by incoming White House press secretary Sean Spicer. Hope Hicks, the campaign press secretary, will serve as director of strategic communications and Dan Scavino will serve as the director of social media.