After weeks of scoffing at the notion of bolstering their forces for the impeachment battle, White House aides and allies are now planning to add a top communications specialist to the team to help President Donald Trump fight back against the Democrats’ inquiry.
Two names are under serious consideration for the job: Tony Sayegh, a former top Treasury aide, and Pam Bondi, the former Florida Attorney General.
Trump has long been a fan of Bondi, telling reporters last November that “I’d consider Pam Bondi for anything,” as he weighed various shifts within his Cabinet. Sayegh led the White House’s dedicated communications effort for the Republican tax bill, which has been the Trump administration‘s star legislative achievement. Both Bondi and Sayegh have been frequent presences on cable news, with Sayegh once serving as a Fox News contributor.
The president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, has a good relationship with both, said a person familiar with the search. The White House hopes to hire the communications guru as early as next week.
“There are a number of candidates, both inside and outside the building and maybe from other agencies,” added a Republican close to the White House.
The nascent plans come roughly a week after acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney’s startling press conference during which during he answered some questions off-the-cuff on the Ukraine scandal, giving Democrats new leads for their inquiry. His appearance was widely panned throughout the West Wing and among Trump’s attorneys, even if some aides say Mulvaney is safe in his current job.
The White House press office did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The New York Times first reported the two people under leading consideration.
Either way, Mulvaney’s appearance provided a jolt to the White House. Combined with pressure from outside groups and allies to develop a more coordinated strategy, the White House has settled on hiring a communications front man for impeachment.
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham previewed the move Thursday after he returned from a lunch at the White House, where he said he spoke to Mulvaney about the impeachment strategy. Graham said Mulvaney promised him the White House was “working on getting a messaging team together.”
Graham added that he hoped they would follow the model of the Clinton White House’s impeachment strategy, which involved establishing a separate war room to handle the political and communications tasks.
The Republican close to the White House derided the idea of a full war room as too retro but conceded the administration now sees the need for greater help.
Marc Caputo contributed to this report.
Article originally published on POLITICO Magazine