White House deputy chief of staff and de facto communications director Bill Shine has stepped down to join the Trump campaign, press secretary Sarah Sanders announced in a statement Friday.
Shine, a former Fox News executive, joined the White House in July 2018, the sixth person to fill or be tapped for the top communications role. Jason Miller, Sean Spicer, Mike Dubke, Anthony Scaramucci and Hope Hicks all came before him.
He offered his resignation to President Donald Trump on Thursday but was spotted on the White House South Lawn on Friday ahead of the President’s trip to Alabama. He will be joining the 2020 re-election campaign as a senior adviser.
“Serving President Trump and this country has been the most rewarding experience of my entire life. To be a small part of all this President has done for the American people has truly been an honor. I’m looking forward to working on President Trump’s re-election campaign and spending more time with my family,” Shine said in a statement.
Shine’s effectiveness inside the West Wing came with mixed results and it was unclear how much he was able to change the White House’s communications strategy. One source close to the White House told CNN that Trump had questioned Shine’s judgment on a number of issues in recent months, from the midterm election to the government shutdown.
A sudden decision?
Shine had been slated to travel with Trump to Vietnam for the second North Korea summit but unexpectedly dropped off the trip two days before, according to an administration official.
While administration officials were in Hanoi, Shine was wandering the halls of the Conservative Political Action Conference. Asked why he was there, he declined to answer.
Meanwhile, the campaign and Republican National Committee communications team found out about this on Thursday, one official told CNN, and this was not part of the campaign roll out or plan.
In fact, the campaign wasn’t lacking in communications experts. Shine’s departure from the White House and inclusion in the campaign operation follows the recent announcement of several high-profile hires, including communications director Tim Murtaugh, national press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, director of strategic communications Marc Lotter, and deputy communications directors Matt Wolking, Erin Perrine, and Zach Parkinson.
Trump had been down on Shine for at least a few months, believing him ineffective and not what he’d hoped for when he hired him, according to people familiar. Shine’s role basically became the person who adjusted the lighting and focused the cameras, and he showed no ability to shape a narrative or communications strategy.
Shine was a key force behind shutting down much of the press access to the White House, including the daily press briefing, per the source. There has not been a White House press briefing since January 28.
Some officials who once said they couldn’t think of a better communications director for Trump than a former television executive had been disappointed by his approach. Months into his tenure, Shine’s contribution had largely consisted of phoning Fox News hosts and booking officials on the shows so they can defend the President on a network whose audience largely already favors him – something that had caused some unease inside and outside the West Wing.
“I think Bill Shine is having fun being the President’s buddy at work every day,” said a Shine ally when asked about his responsibility earlier this year.
Shine was well liked inside the West Wing because he is seen as someone who is decisive in a sea of indecision, three officials said. But Trump, who often has unrealistic expectations of what his staff can accomplish, had complained about Shine privately at times, noting he hadn’t received better coverage since he hired him.
“Trump was very disappointed in him. There’s been no improvement in press coverage,” the source close to the White House said Friday after the resignation was announced. “Donald would have taken all of those hiccups if he had been getting good press,” the source added.
Trump praised Shine in a statement Friday for an “outstanding job,” saying he looked forward to working with him on the campaign, where he expects him to be “totally involved.”
Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale touted his “wealth of experience from cable news and the White House” in a statement.
CNN’s Kevin Liptak, Sarah Westwood, Oliver Darcy and Jeff Zeleny contributed to this report.