Controlling the message coming out of Donald Trump’s White House may seem like an impossible task — and it’s one that many are hesitant to try right now.
The White House has gone without a full-time communications director since Trump was sworn in last month, and although chief of staff Reince Priebus is spearheading a robust effort to fill the position, his overtures to several Republican communications professionals have been met with a lack of interest, according to a half-dozen sources with knowledge of the situation. At least two candidates have turned down the job, a position normally coveted by Washington political operatives, according to another source familiar with the conversations.
Trump’s unusual involvement in crafting his own message — and his insistence on doing so from his perch in the West Wing — poses a challenge for any aide whose responsibility it would be to shape the narrative arc of his administration.
“There is a list of candidates, but I can see why people aren’t interested. It’s a tough job,” said a senior administration official.
Those difficulties are compounded by Trump’s management style: The president is known to pit his senior aides against each other, creating rivalries and divisions among his staff that have already impacted the rollout of a major policy initiative. Steve Bannon and Stephen Miller, the president’s chief strategist and senior adviser, managed to keep the president’s executive order on immigration so closely held that it not only erroneously banned green-card holders from entering the country, but also left members of the Cabinet — responsible for defending the policy — scrambling to respond.