Home / World / Sean Spicer aims for a more strategic role in White House – CBS News

Sean Spicer aims for a more strategic role in White House – CBS News

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer is seekinga more strategic role that would give him a limited presence in the daily press briefings that have made him a prominent face of the Trump administration.

A senior administration official and three people familiar with the potential changes said Monday that Spicer has discussed taking a more senior communications role at the White House. The three people said he has reached out to possible successors at the podium and as communications director. The people spoke on condition of anonymity in order to discuss internal deliberations before a final decision is made.

“We have sought input from many people as we look to expand our communications operation. As he did in the beginning, Sean Spicer is managing both the communications and press office,” said Sarah Huckabee Sanders, a deputy White House press secretary. She declined further comment on the potential changes.

Discussions about overhauling the White House communications office have been ongoing for several weeks, according to the senior administration official. Spicer’s preference is to step away from the press briefings entirely, though other configurations have also been discussed.

The White House has consulted an array of Republicans and Trump allies, including Laura Ingraham, the conservative radio host and political commentator. However, Ingraham is not expected to take the press secretary position.

David Martosko, the U.S. political editor of London’s Daily Mail, who covered the president’s campaign, has also interviewed for senior communications jobs, according to a person familiar with the interviews who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The possible changes for Spicer were first reported by Bloomberg News and Politico.

Spicer’s public role has already diminished in recent weeks.

The White House has increasingly tapped Cabinet officials and other White House advisers to address reporters on camera and moved to take some of the daily briefings off cable television to keep the focus on Mr. Trump, who makes a habit of watching the televised performances.

Spicer spoke Monday from the podium at an off-camera gaggle that barred broadcast outlets from using the audio of the question-and-answer session. Asked about the changes, Spicer said Mr. Trump had spoken before cameras during an Oval Office meeting with the president of Panama and would later make remarks in front of the media at an event with technology leaders.

“There are days that I’ll decide that the president’s voice should be the one that speaks and iterate his priorities,” Spicer said.

The White House has generally only used that rationale on days that the president has held a press conference or delivered a major speech.

Spicer’s briefings have been must-see TV during the start of the Trump era, beginning with his fiery, inaccurate claim that journalists wrongly portrayed the size of Mr. Trump’s inauguration audience. He has been the subject of recurring skits by comic Melissa McCarthy on “Saturday Night Live” and his afternoon briefings have garnered strong ratings.

In April the former Republican National Committee strategist apologized for making an “inappropriate and insensitive” statement comparing Adolf Hitler to Syrian President Bashar Assad by suggesting Hitler “didn’t even sink to using chemical weapons.” 

Mr. Trump threatened in May to shut down daily press briefings and told Fox News Channel at the time that Spicer was “doing a good job, but he gets beat up.”

The possibility to further shake up the communications staff comes after White House Communications Director Mike Dubke announced his departure from the administration in early June. 

Dubke wrote in a memo colleagues that his reasons for leaving were “personal” but that it had been a “great honor” to serve the Trump White House.

“It has also been my distinct pleasure to work side-by-side, day-by-day with the staff of the communications and press departments. This White House is filled with some of the finest and hardest working men and women in the American Government,” Dubke said in a memo to staffers.

CBS News’ Major Garrett previously reported that a change in the communications team was coming amid Mr. Trump’s growing frustrations over the direction of his agenda and growing scrutiny over the ongoing investigations into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and Trump associates. 

“Things can’t keep going the way they are,” a senior Trump administration official told Garrett.

As part of the White House’s efforts to recalibrate, Sanders took on a more visible role at the daily briefings the past few months.  Sanders acknowledged Spicer’s less-frequent appearances in the briefing room following Dubke’s exit, saying he would be “taking on a little bit of extra duty.”

© 2017 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Source: world

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