Trump Thinks He’s His Own Best Messenger. Where Does That Leave Bill Shine?

According to one senior administration official, Mr. Shine, arriving at the White House, appeared overwhelmed by a fractious West Wing, in part because he was hired by the president after John F. Kelly, his former chief of staff, was unwilling to reassign Mercedes Schlapp, the White House director of strategic communications.

Early on, Mr. Trump was impressed with Mr. Shine’s ability to help pull him out of an unflattering news cycle after a widely criticized news conference in Helsinki, Finland, with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia.

Days after the meeting, Mr. Shine arranged for the president to step out in front of reporters on the South Lawn and hail his administration’s economic accomplishments. Describing the scene, a senior administration official said that Mr. Trump kept his eyes trained on Mr. Shine, who stood casually nearby with a Starbucks cup in hand, while the president addressed the group and momentarily shifted the news cycle.

But two senior administration officials said that Mr. Shine’s new colleagues, who expected him to come in with a degree of Ailes genius, have not been impressed by what they considered timeworn suggestions, such as the president not tweeting so much.

The shutdown has highlighted the inner workings of a strategy-challenged White House, where one official described Mr. Shine as a bridge between the bifurcated communications and press teams. He is one of four assistants to the president — an official distinction — who focus on communications. They often do not work in concert, according to several White House officials.

But it is not as if there have not been some novel communications tactics.

Last week, riding high from a meeting over the plans for funding his long-promised border wall, the president held a haphazardly arranged press briefing with law enforcement officials without taking any questions. At a cabinet meeting, he conspicuously displayed a “Game of Thrones”-inspired sanctions poster. And then there were his taped Rose Garden videos, or the tweet with the video of him singing “Green Acres” at he 2005 Emmys.

Mr. Shine had nothing to do with any of that, according to an administration official.

To his friends and allies, Mr. Trump wistfully brings up Hope Hicks, his most successful communications director, who departed nearly a year ago. Ms. Hicks had the president’s trust in a way that only a few remaining aides do, and she was generally seen as among the small number of people who could suggest to Mr. Trump that he hold back from indulging in some of his public relations whims.

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