Trump has long been a fan of Bondi, telling reporters last November “I’d consider Pam Bondi for anything” as he weighed various shifts within his Cabinet. Bondi is fiercely loyal to Trump, who speaks to her frequently and seeks her legal and political advice. She is also on good terms with the president’s daughter, Ivanka, according to those who know Bondi and the Trumps.
“He trusts her,” Roger Stone, a longtime Trump adviser who lives in Florida , told POLITICO when Bondi was under consideration for attorney general a year ago. “They’ve always had an excellent personal rapport. She’s got a good TV presence; she’s very telegenic and that’s important to the president.”
The president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, has a good relationship with both, said a person familiar with the search. The White House hopes to hire the communications guru as early as next week.
“There are a number of candidates, both inside and outside the building and maybe from other agencies,” added a Republican close to the White House.
The nascent plans to bring on additional communications help come roughly a week after acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney’s startling press conference during which he answered questions off-the-cuff on the Ukraine scandal, giving Democrats new leads for their inquiry. His appearance was widely panned throughout the West Wing and among Trump’s attorneys, even if some aides say Mulvaney is safe in his current job.
The White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said there was “nothing to announce at this time.” The New York Times first reported the two people under leading consideration.
Mulvaney’s appearance provided a jolt to the White House. Combined with pressure from outside groups and allies to develop a more coordinated strategy, some White House aides are now intent on hiring a communications front man for impeachment.
But the president has yet to sign off on any choice and is still weighing his options, said one senior administration official.
“They are trying to figure out how to set up a war room, without it being a war room and without it devolving into a civil war inside the White House,” said a second Republican close to the administration. “There are different conceptions of what a war room would look like, and the president has not deputized anyone to do it. Many of the people on the inside think they need one, even if they are bickering among themselves.”
Another option is to have the media war room run through the Republican National Committee, said a person familiar with the White House discussions spearheaded by Kushner and Mulvaney.
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham previewed the move Thursday after he returned from a lunch at the White House, where he said he spoke to Mulvaney about the impeachment strategy. Graham said Mulvaney promised him the White House was “working on getting a messaging team together.”
Graham added that he hoped they would follow the model of the Clinton White House’s impeachment strategy, which involved establishing a separate war room to handle the political and communications tasks.
The Republican close to the White House derided the idea of a full war room as too retro but conceded the administration now sees the need for greater help.
Marc Caputo contributed to this report.