President Donald Trump has removed Brad Parscale as his campaign manager, installing instead Bill Stepien, his former second-in-command, in the role. Parscale had held the position since February 2018.
Parscale will remain a part of the campaign as a senior adviser overseeing digital operations, per a Facebook post from the commander-in-chief.
“Brad Parscale, who has been with me for a very long time and has led our tremendous data and digital strategies, will remain in that role, while being a Senior Advisor to the campaign,” Trump wrote.
Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, delivered the news, according to ABC.
The move was the culmination of multiple elevations and additions to Team Trump earlier this year that amounted to alleviating Parscale of certain key responsibilities, even if he remained at the time as a campaign manager in title. For instance, Stepien and Jason Miller, another top Trump 2020 official who previously worked as a senior aide on the 2016 team and Trump presidential transition, had for weeks largely taken the helm on strategy, with Parscale generally focusing on duties that the president tweeted on Wednesday evening would remain in his portfolio after the demotion, according to two sources familiar with the matter.
In substance and assignments, “this ‘shakeup’ happened weeks ago,” one of these individuals said. “Difference [tonight] is that it’s now official in everyone’s titles.”
For Stepien, this promotion was years in the making. In late 2017 and very early 2018, before Parscale was publicly announced as Trump’s 2020 campaign chief, Stepien was on the shortlist for that job, with several of his allies in and out of the administration aggressively advocating to Trump and his inner circle that Stepien should be selected, three people with knowledge of this say. Apparently, this push became too forceful and “irritating,” as one of these sources characterized, and consequently chafed certain senior administration officials and top Trump advisers, partly contributing to Stepien’s odds plummeting at the time, these sources said.
The shake-up also comes at a time when the president has been polling poorly in recent months as his response to the new coronavirus has focused on reopening for business as usual and restarting the economy while cases and deaths continue to rise. He’s been largely unable to hit the campaign trail because of the virus. To date, more than 130,000 Americans have died of the virus, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
Ahead of Trump’s June 20 rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, both Parscale and the president had boasted of more than a million signups for the event, a claim that proved embarrassing after footage from inside the arena showed entire sections of empty seats. The governor of Oklahoma, who attended the rally, has since tested positive for COVID-19, as have staffers of Trump’s own campaign, extending the discussion of the event.
Parscale has weathered criticism for the better part of a year over his earnings from the campaign as he purchased large private properties and cars in Florida, where he lives. The former campaign manager’s company, Parscale Strategies, has been paid $16,682,477.82 by the campaign, the two Joint Fundraising Committees involving the campaign and the Republican Party, the Republican National Committee, and the convention committee since May 7. The Trump campaign and the Trump Make America Great Again Committee, a joint fundraising committee run by the campaign and the RNC, together paid nearly $700,000 to run more than 4,400 ads on Parscale’s Facebook and Instagram pages, according to the site’s political ad archive.
-- Lachlan Markay contributed reporting