President Trump is "furious" at reports that Fox News host Kimberly Guilfoyle is gunning for White House spokesman Sean's Spicer's job, telling aides that his press secretary is a vital part of his operation, according to insiders.
Knowledgeable sources said that Trump was angered when she went to the press to announce that she was talking to Trump aides about the job.
In what was viewed as a 'diss' by Team Trump, she told the San Jose Mercury News, "Sean Spicer is a very nice man and a patriot; he's dedicated himself to this public service." She added, "I wish him the best, and I know he puts a lot of effort into it."
But she reached for his job. "I'm a patriot, and it would be an honor to serve the country," Guilfoyle said. "I think it'd be a fascinating job. It's a challenging job, and you need someone really determined and focused, a great communicator in there with deep knowledge to be able to handle that position."
That did not go down well in the Oval Office.
"Trump gets angry every time he sees those stories. He believes that she is using him to better her own situation," said one insider. "He's furious."
She subsequently issued a statement saying she is staying with Fox. "As I stated in the interview, I really love what I do and my job co-hosting 'The Five' is tough to beat," she said.
According to reports, she is locked into a three-year contract that pays up to $800,000 a year. The press secretary earns around $175,000.
Officials also pushed back on suggestions that Guilfoyle was initially a finalist for the job, noting that she never made it up to the top suites in Trump Tower where the president and senior aides were making the final choices.
For impact, Trump took Spicer on his trip to address the U.S. Coast Guard Academy graduates in Connecticut today. Spicer is also accompanying the president on his first foreign trip this weekend.
A Politico reporter later Wednesday tweeted that "sources close to Kim Guilfoyle" believe Spicer was a source for this story, but that is not true. Neither he nor his staff were contacted for this story.
Meanwhile, a number of stories emerged this week that Trump is planning a massive staff shakeup, but insiders said on Wednesday that a big change isn't happening. The reports emerged last month too and nothing happened.
"It's like an alternative world in the media," said one Trump associate.
However, the source added, competing forces inside the White House associated with son-in-law Jared Kushner, counselor Steve Bannon and chief of staff Reince Priebus have been putting their own spin on the staff story.
"It's a poisonous atmosphere," said the insider.
Trump has expressed frustration that the Spicer-led communications team has at times struggled, especially in the late notice explanation of the firing of former FBI Director James Comey, but Secrets was assured that nobody on his staff is in jeopardy of losing their job.
Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org