Speculation over a White House staff shakeup is sending tremors throughout Washington. White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus is reportedly on the chopping block, while Senior Advisor Steve Bannon--who was removed from the National Security Council earlier last week--is battling with Trump's son-in-law and advisor Jared Kushner, who is consolidating power and influence.
Bannon's removal entirely is not out of question. So far, everyone who has tried to trump the Trump family (like former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski) has lost. This time is unlikely to be any different.
So if change does come to the White House, what would it mean for Trump, for Washington, and for the county and world as a whole?
For Trump: Given how little experience he and his core team have in Washington, government and politics in general, and given that he ran on the promise of draining the swamp, the administration has both struggled to fill roles across the board and has often made what seemed like curious choices.
Reince Priebus was one of those. Paul Ryan's best friend and the former head of the Republican National Committee is no one's idea of swamp draining, nor is Priebus a Jim Baker type – someone with deep experience in managing people, running complex organizations like the White House, dealing with Congress, and handling the myriad politics inside and outside the building.
We already have a novice president. He needs a chief of staff with the experience and gravitas to help compensate for his shortcomings. Priebus appears to have neither, so whether he's replaced with Congressman Kevin McCarthy, Blackstone exec Wayne Berman, former Goldman Sachs President Gary Cohn or someone else with more experience and ability, it should only help the Trump White House function more smoothly.
Bannon's removal from the NSC, at the very least, should help calm those on the left concerned about a nationalist political agenda influencing military and security decisions. So it too should help bring stability to the White House.
For Washington: The rumored staff decision on Preibus here too should only help. Priebus did not appear to be much help in moving the health care bill forward. He doesn't have enough sway with Congress to effectively whip votes nor manage multiple competing agendas. McCarthy would clearly be better in those roles, and Berman and Cohn are at least more seasoned.
Having a chief of staff who is better equipped to negotiate complex deals and is not constantly looking over his shoulder only makes it easier to work with the White House. It would also help create a more unified White House if the chief of staff is empowered and aligned with Kushner. Then the odds of a less ideological, more pragmatic White House that can negotiate with Congress and follow through on its commitments only increase.
For Democrats, perhaps stability is unwelcome because they want to see Trump fail. But that's a bad attitude. I didn't vote for Trump and don't love him, but we all benefit if the president does well and we all suffer if he fails. We should be happy whenever the White House takes meaningful steps to improve its performance.
For the country and the world as a whole: We've had a lot of good presidents in our history and a lot of bad ones. In every case, the union has survived and moved on. But if we're enmeshed in military conflict with nuclear powers, our survival isn't ensured. Neither removing Bannon from the Security Council nor installing a more confident, capable chief of staff means we won't have conflict with North Korea, but better, more stable advisors around Trump means he'll get better advice that's likely to help keep us out of unnecessary wars.
So if nothing else, we're probably safer as a result of Bannon's removal and would be even more so if Priebus is replaced with someone more experienced and consistent with the Kushner wing of the White House. The more talent and expertise any leader is surrounded with, the better they're likely to do, so Trump's domestic agenda, foreign policy activities and leadership in general should only benefit from these potential changes.
At the end of the day, the only person truly responsible for Trump's performance is Trump himself. But given his performance over the first ten weeks, Trump needs all the help he can get. Hopefully the staff shakeups can help get him there..