PALM BEACH, Fla. — While President Trump spent the past week at his Mar-a-Lago Club — golfing, tweeting, relaxing with family and talking to old friends — White House officials have been in quiet talks about revamping the West Wing operation and filling open posts ahead of what could be a politically difficult 2018.
The discussions come at a critical time for the administration. The president ended his first turbulent year in office with a major legislative victory — the Republican tax plan — but also suffered an embarrassing setback when the Republican candidate he endorsed in Alabama’s Senate race suffered an upset loss following allegations of sexual misconduct.
The unexpected defeat in the deep-red state narrowed the Republicans’ already tissue-thin majority in the Senate and underscored the challenges the White House faces as Republicans head into the 2018 midterm elections with a president facing approval ratings in the 30s.
The proposed changes, to be largely overseen by White House chief of staff John F. Kelly, mark another effort by the retired four-star general to further streamline and professionalize the White House operation to ensure the chaos of the administration’s inaugural year does not follow it into 2018.