Inside the tumultuous 48 hours before Priebus left the White House

PHOTO: Reince Priebus, the Chief of Staff, and White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci in the Oval Office on July 27, 2017.PlayT.J Kirkpatrick for The Wall Street Journal
WATCH Trump hopes to bring order and discipline to the White House with more staff changes

The announcement on Friday that Reince Priebus is being replaced by Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly as White House chief of staff came after a particularly tumultuous few days for the Trump administration.

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Senior White House officials with direct knowledge of the changes happening in the West Wing say that President Donald Trump and Priebus spoke two weeks ago, and Trump reportedly said that he wanted to make a change.

Here is a rundown of how the past two days played out.

Wednesday, July 26

Sometime that evening

Scaramucci called Ryan Lizza, a reporter for The New Yorker, Wednesday evening, after Lizza had tweeted that a senior White House official told him that Trump and the first lady were having dinner with former Fox News executive Bill Shine and Fox News host Sean Hannity.

Scaramucci called Lizza to try to determine who told him about that dinner, according to the article that Lizza published the following day in The New Yorker. Scaramucci ended the call saying “I’ve gotta start tweeting some s--- to make this guy crazy,” according to The New Yorker article.

Shortly after, Scaramucci tweeted that his personal financial disclosure information had been illegally leaked, and that he was calling on the FBI and Department of Justice to investigate. He ending the tweet by tagging Priebus.

Lizza then posted a tweet, writing, “In case there's any ambiguity in his tweet I can confirm that Scaramucci wants the FBI to investigate Reince for leaking.”

Scaramucci subsequently deleted that original tweet.

Thursday July 27

12:47 a.m.

Scaramucci then wrote another tweet, which featured a screengrab of a news story with the headline, “Scaramucci appears to want Priebus investigated by FBI.”

“Wrong! Tweet was public notice to leakers that all Sr Adm officials are helping to end illegal leaks. @Reince45,” Scaramucci’s tweet read.

around 7:20 a.m.

The following morning, Scaramucci called into CNN, saying that he and Trump have a "very good idea" about who the "senior leakers are in the White House."

"As you know from the Italian expression, the fish stinks from the head down. But I can tell you two fish that don't stink. That's me and the president," Scaramucci said on CNN.

He then directly referenced Priebus and said, "We have had odds, we have had differences."

"When I said we were brothers from the podium, that's because we're rough on each other -- some brothers are like Cain and Abel," he said, referencing a biblical passage that ends in Cain killing Abel. "Other brothers can fight with each other and then get along. I don't know if this is repairable or not. That will be up to the president."

Around 5:00 p.m.

The last blow of the day came when Lizza published an article on The New Yorker's website detailing his account of his conversation with Scaramucci the night before.

At one point during the call, Scaramucci called Priebus a “f------ paranoid schizophrenic,” according to the article.

At another point, Scaramucci used a vulgar phrase describing how he alleges Priebus prevented him from becoming a part of the administration in the first six months.

6:23 p.m.

Scaramucci turned to Twitter to comment on The New Yorker story, but he did not deny any of the article nor did he apologize for the comments that he made -- only saying he would refrain from using such "colorful language."

“I sometimes use colorful language. I will refrain in this arena but not give up the passionate fight for @realDonaldTrump's agenda. #MAGA,” Scaramucci said in a tweet this evening after the article posted.

At 8:50 p.m. Scaramucci later appeared to blame Lizza for publishing the exchange, "I made a mistake in trusting in a reporter. It won't happen again."

Friday July 28

12:24 p.m.

Both Priebus and Scaramucci were travelling with the president on Air Force One to Long Island in New York.

2:13 p.m.

During the speech to law enforcement officers, Trump made a point to give a shout out to his then-secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Ret. Gen. John Kelly.

Trump said Kelly "has done an incredible job of secretary of homeland security. Incredible. One of our real stars. Truly one of our stars. John Kelly is one of our great stars."

4:42 p.m.

Air Force One arrives at Joint Base Andrews.

4:49 p.m. through 4:54 p.m.

Trump tweeted that Kelly is the new chief of staff.

"I am pleased to inform you that I have just named General/Secretary John F Kelly as White House Chief of Staff. He is a Great American and a Great Leader. John has also done a spectacular job at Homeland Security. He has been a true star of my Administration," Trump said in a series of tweets Friday afternoon.

5:00 p.m.

Trump mentions Priebus in the third tweet.

“I would like to thank Reince Priebus for his service and dedication to his country. We accomplished a lot together and I am proud of him!” the tweet reads.

Shortly after 5:00 p.m.

Trump walked off the plane by himself. Priebus was seen exiting after and into an awaiting car. Scaramucci reportedly stayed in New York and did not make the return trip on Air Force One.

Around 6:20 p.m.

Priebus issued a statement confirming his departure.

"It has been one of the greatest honors of my life to serve this President and our country. I want to thank the President for giving me this very special opportunity. I will continue to serve as a strong supporter of the president's agenda and policies. I can't think of a better person than General John Kelly to succeed me and I wish him God's blessings and great success," Priebus said.

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