Trump has never shown any reluctance to sacrifice a surrogate to serve a short-term political need, so he apparently did not think twice about exposing a series of staff members to ridicule as he repeatedly shifted his explanation for firing James B. Comey, the F.B.I. director.
Mr. Trump, obsessed with the F.B.I.’s investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election and increasingly frustrated by the hyper-scrutiny of the Washington press corps, is more in need of effective spokesmen than ever, and aides say he is considering a broad shake-up of his team.
But his career-long habit of viewing his public protectors as somewhat disposable, on vivid display after Mr. Comey’s sudden ouster, has not exactly been an incentive to step into the firing line on his behalf.
“Trump is putting a lot on the backs of his spokespeople, while simultaneously cutting their legs out from underneath them,” said Alex Conant, a Republican strategist and a former adviser to Senator Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida. “There is nothing more discouraging or embarrassing for a spokesman than to have your boss contradict you. In political communications, you’re only as good as your credibility.”
The view that the communications dysfunction begins at the top of the White House organizational chart is bipartisan.
“The most hazardous duty in Washington these days is that of Trump surrogate because the president constantly undercuts the statements of his own people,” said David Axelrod, a communications and messaging adviser to President Barack Obama.
“You wind up looking like a liar or a fool, neither of which is particularly attractive.”
Mr. Trump has deployed his two top aides — his press secretary, Sean Spicer, and Sarah Huckabee Sanders, a top deputy — to deliver dubious or false information about his decision-making process.
Now Mr. Trump is growing increasingly dissatisfied with the performance of his chief of staff, Reince Priebus; the communications director, Michael Dubke; and Mr. Spicer, a Priebus ally, according to a half-dozen West Wing officials who said the president was considering the most far-reaching shake-up of his already tumultuous term.
He has been especially critical of Mr. Spicer, they said, openly musing about replacing him and telling people in his circle that he kept his own press secretary out of the loop in dismissing Mr. Comey until the last possible moment because he feared that the communications staff would leak the news.
Mr. Spicer’s blustery style mimics Mr. Trump’s, but people close to both men said he has not developed an especially close relationship with the president and has failed to use the self-protective tools that savvier Trump aides have adopted.
That seems to be changing. On Friday, Mr. Spicer prefaced much of what he said at the daily briefing with, “The president’s statement.”
Meanwhile Mr. Trump has raised the Fox News host Kimberly Guilfoyle to allies as a possible press secretary
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