Reince Priebus Insists No ‘Ill Will’ in Super-Sad CNN Exit Interview
The now-former chief of staff heaped praise on the man who more or less pushed him out of his job on Friday.
When Sean Spicer abruptly resigned last week to make way for Anthony Scaramucci, he granted his first interview to Trump loyalist Sean Hannity on Fox News. Reince Priebus, who was ousted from his chief of staff role on Friday is also scheduled to stop by Hannity later tonight, but he made the pointed decision of making his initial comments about what happened to the president’s most-hated cable news network CNN.
“I'm doing great,” Priebus insisted with a forced smile when Wolf Blitzer asked him how he’s doing. “I just had a good conversation with General Kelly and the president,” he said of his replacement, who will moving over from the Department of Homeland Security, “and I think you may know I have been obviously talking to the president for a few days about this and ultimately I formally resigned yesterday.”
“And, you know, the president was great. He wanted to include me in figuring out how and who would be a great successor and a good chief of staff. I think General Kelly is a brilliant pick,” he continued. “So this is not like a situation where there is a bunch of ill will feelings. “This is, I think, good for the president. I think it's smart for him to pick General Kelly, and I think that things are going to be run very well.”
Priebus went on to describe his resignation as something he’s “always talked to the president about,” which was an odd way to characterize the nature of what is supposed to be one of the most powerful positions in the White House. “I'm always going to be a Trump fan,” he said. “I'm on Team Trump, and I look forward to helping him achieve his goals and his agenda for the American people.” Just not from inside the White House.
Blitzer continued to press Priebus on why exactly he had to resign his position and in response only received platitudes about hitting a “reset button” and making a “fresh start.” At point, Priebus seemed to catch himself frowning and had to remind himself to smile.
“The president is a professional, and I’m a professional and professional people don't discuss private conversations in public,” Priebus added in what could be read as a dig at Trump’s new communications director Anthony Scaramucci, who has done plenty of public complaining about both him and Steve Bannon in recent days.
Asked directly about Scaramucci’s remarks, in which he called his now-former colleague a “paranoid schizophrenic,” Priebus said he had “no reaction,” explaining, “I'm not going to get into the mud on those sorts of things.” As for how Bannon will stay on with Scaramucci after what he said about Trump’s chief strategist, Priebus eagerly punted, saying, “That's going to be up to John Kelly.” His main advice for Kelly was this: “God is good and everything works to good in the end.”
After insisting once more that he resigned on his own without any pressure from Trump, Priebus said of the president, “He deserves credit for all of these accomplishments he's had over the last six months. I don't think anyone realizes how much he's gotten done. I support him in making sure that the American people see and realize the work that he's done. I think we could do better here in making sure that people realize that and see it, he deserves it, he's been a great president and I look forward to continuing to help him.”
If Priebus had this many positive things to say about Trump on CNN this evening, one can only imagine what he will say on Fox News later tonight.