The resignation of the White House's communications director may be the first in a series of changes to the West Wing as the Trump administration attempts to fight growing legal and political threats while also trying to push forward the President’s legislative agenda.
Mike Dubke is the first prominent member of Donald Trump's communications staff to resign amid fallout from scandals that continue to rock the White House.
Meanwhile, the press secretary Sean Spicer will reportedly hold on to his position, but there are expected to be fewer on-camera briefings.
“I think the President is very pleased with his team and he has a robust agenda,“ Mr Spicer told reporters on Tuesday, in a briefing that again featured an intense back-and-forth between the press secretary and reporters regarding the investigation into Trump campaign advisers and the Russian government.
“Ultimately the best messenger is the President himself,” Mr Spicer said. “He's always proven that he is the best messenger not just for what he wants to articulate but that the American people resoundingly chose him as their President – because he understands the frustrations and concerns and values of the American people and he is probably the best person to communicate that.”
In a statement, White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus said Mr Dubke tendered his resignation just before Mr Trump departed for his first official trip abroad. Mr Dubke “offered to remain onboard until a transition is concluded,” Mr Priebus said.
The biggest names involved in the Trump-Russia investigation
The biggest names involved in the Trump-Russia investigation
1/11 Paul Manafort
Mr Manafort is a Republican strategist and former Trump campaign manager. He resigned from that post over questions about his extensive lobbying overseas, including in Ukraine where he represented pro-Russian interests.
2/11 Mike Flynn
Mr Flynn was named as Trump's national security adviser but was forced to resign from his post for inappropriate communication with Russian Ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak. He had misrepresented a conversation he had with Mr Kislyak to Vice President Mike Pence, telling him wrongly that he had not discussed sanctions with the Russian.
3/11 Sergey Kislyak
Mr Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the US, is at the centre of the web said to connect President Donald Trump's campaign with Russia.
4/11 Roger Stone
Mr Stone is a former Trump adviser who worked on the political campaigns of Richard Nixon, George HW Bush, and Ronald Reagan. Mr Stone claimed repeatedly in the final months of the campaign that he had backchannel communications with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and that he knew the group was going to dump damaging documents to the campaign of Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton - which did happen. Mr Stone also had contacts with the hacker Guccier 2.0 on Twitter, who claimed to have hacked the DNC and is linked to Russian intelligence services.
5/11 Jeff Sessions
The US attorney general was forced to recuse himself from the Trump-Russia investigation after it was learned that he had lied about meeting with Russian Ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak.
6/11 Carter Page
Mr Page is a former advisor to the Trump campaign and has a background working as an investment banker at Merrill Lynch. Mr Page met with Russian Ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak during the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland. Mr Page had invested in oil companies connected to Russia and had admitted that US Russia sanctions had hurt his bottom line.
7/11 Jeffrey "JD" Gorden
Mr Gordon met with Russian Ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak during the 2016 Republian National Convention to discuss how the US and Russia could work together to combat Islamist extremism should then-Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump win the election. The meeting came days before a massive leak of DNC emails that has been connected to Russia.
8/11 Jared Kushner
Mr Kushner is President Donald Trump's son-in-law and a key adviser to the White House. He met with a Russian banker appointed by Russian President Vladimir Putin in December. Mr Kushner has said he did so in his role as an adviser to Mr Trump while the bank says he did so as a private developer. Mr Kushner has also volunteered to testify in the Senate about his role helping to arrange meetings between Trump advisers and Russian Ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak.
9/11 James Comey
Mr Comey was fired from his post as head of the FBI by President Donald Trump. The timing of Mr Comey's firing raised questions around whether or not the FBI's investigation into the Trump campaign may have played a role in the decision.
10/11 Preet Bharara
Mr Bahara refused, alongside 46 other US district attorney's across the country, to resign once President Donald Trump took office after previous assurances from Mr Trump that he would keep his job. Mr Bahara had been heading up several investigations including one into one of President Donald Trump's favorite cable television channels Fox News. Several investigations would lead back to that district, too, including those into Mr Trump's campaign ties to Russia, and Mr Trump's assertion that Trump Tower was wiretapped on orders from his predecessor.
11/11 Sally Yates
Ms Yates, a former Deputy Attorney General, was running the Justice Department while President Donald Trump's pick for attorney general awaited confirmation. Ms Yates was later fired by Mr Trump from her temporary post over her refusal to implement Mr Trump's first travel ban. She had also warned the White House about potential ties former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn to Russia after discovering those ties during the FBI's investigation into the Trump campaign's connections to Russia.
Unlike many top officials in the White House, Mr Dubke was not part of the Trump 2016 campaign. He joined the administration about a month after the President’s inauguration in January and has reportedly struggled to mesh well with Mr Trump.
In the past month, the President’s communications team has been working on the frontlines of the administration to deal with the fallout from Mr Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey, alleged “leaks” , the President’s disclosure of classified information to Russian officials, and Mr Trump’s potential obstruction of justice by asking Mr Comey to drop an FBI investigation into former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn.
Mr Trump returned to Washington on Saturday after his nine-day, five-country tour to face more questions about alleged communications between Jared Kushner, his son-in-law and White House adviser, and Russia's ambassador to Washington, Sergey Kislyak.
All of the White House-centred drama has begun to irritate congressional leaders, who are hoping to continue focusing on healthcare and tax reform when members of Congress return to Capitol Hill next week.
“I think we could do with a little less drama from the White House on a lot of things so that we can focus on our agenda, which is deregulations, tax reform and repealing and replacing Obamacare,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said earlier in May.
In the background, Mr Trump’s advisers are reportedly beginning to establish a crisis-control communications operation to separate inquiries regarding the Russia investigation and related scandals from issues connected to policy and legislation.
This approach is similar to one taken by President Bill Clinton, who established a war room to deal with various matters including the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Mr Clinton was eventually impeached for lying under oath about his affair with White House intern Ms Lewinsky.
Joel Johnson, a senior adviser to Mr Clinton from 1999 to 2001 and who worked with the White House throughout the impeachment proceedings, said that the Clinton administration’s establishment of a war room “allowed the business of governing to go on”.
“While the press secretary generally fielded questions during the daily press briefing, the bulk of the day-to-day incoming questions unrelated to the other business of government all went to a separate communications and rapid-response team basically embedded in the White House counsel’s office,” Mr Johnson said.
“You have to find a way to separate and distance the core White House staff from that level of intensity on business unrelated to the President’s agenda.”
Mr Johnson noted that a White House staff shake-up is hardly a new concept and is by no means unique to the Trump administration.
“Sometimes it’s a tactic to sort of change the conversation,” Mr Johnson said. “Sometimes it’s necessary to restack the talent coming in.”
“My guess is that this would be a little bit of both,” he said, referring to the drama currently playing out at the White House.Reuse content