During an interview on Friday’s broadcast of CNN’s “Situation Room,” outgoing White House chief of staff Reince Priebus stated that he formally resigned as chief of staff on Thursday and that the president wanted to go in a different direction. He also stated that accusations that he’s a leaker were “ridiculous.”
Priebus said, “I’ve 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 [John] Kelly is a brilliant pick. … We’ll be working on a transition here for a couple of weeks, together with General Kelly, starting on Monday morning. So, this is not like a situation where there’s a bunch of ill will feelings.”
He added that he always had an agreement with the president that if either of them thought things needed to change, they would say so.
He later stated, “I think the president wanted to go a different direction. I support him in that. … I think it’s a good time to hit the reset button. I think he was right to hit the reset button, and I think that it was something that, I think the White House needs. I think it’s healthy. And I support him in it.”
Priebus denied that President Trump was unhappy with the direction Priebus took as chief of staff, and that the president “determined that it was time to something differently. And I think he’s right.”
Later on, Priebus said the president did not ask him to resign.
Priebus said that he had “no reaction” to White House Communication Director Anthony Scaramucci’s New Yorker interview, adding, “I’m not going to respond to it. I’m not going to get into the mud on those sorts of things.”
Anchor Wolf Blitzer asked Priebus, “[I]t was a very bitter charge that Scaramucci leveled against you, that you’re a leaker, and that you’re really not that loyal to the president. You’ve got your own agenda. He made some bitter accusations against you, specifically the leaking. Are you the leaker in the White House?”
Priebus responded, “That’s ridiculous, Wolf. Come on. Give me a break. I’m not going to get into his accusations.” He added that getting into such accusations didn’t “honor” the president.
He added that General Kelly should attempt to get to the bottom of the White House’s leak problem, but wouldn’t say whether he agrees with Scaramucci that the FBI should be involved in investigating leaks.
Priebus did offer praise for White House strategist Steve Bannon, who he stated “only cares about the president’s agenda.”