The former White House chief of staff sat down with Wolf Blitzer for his first exit interview

By Maureen Lee Lenker
July 28, 2017 at 08:17 PM EDT

President Trump may call CNN “fake news,” but his former White House chief of staff chose the 24-hour news network for his first interview in the wake of the announcement that he had resigned.

Reince Priebus sat down with Wolf Blitzer on CNN’s The Situation Room on Friday to explain the decision behind his exit.

“I think the president wanted to go a different direction,” Priebus said. “I support him in that. The president has a right to change directions, the president has a right to hit the reset button. … It was something that I think the White House needs. I think it’s healthy. And I support him in it.”

Priebus, who said he resigned Thursday, praised Trump’s hiring of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly as the new chief of staff. “This is about the president. It’s about moving his agenda forward. I think he’s made a smart decision with General Kelly,” he said.

The president announced that he would be replacing Priebus with Kelly via Twitter on Friday afternoon. The announcement came before news of Priebus’ resignation was made public.

Priebus stressed that there no hard feelings behind the decision. “I’m always going to be a Trump fan, I’m on Team Trump, and I look forward to helping him achieve his goals and his agenda for the American people,” he said.

The former White House chief of staff echoed those sentiments during an interview on Fox News Channel’s Hannity later Friday night, reiterating his stamp of approval for Kelly and his support for the president, again saying he’s “on Team Trump.” “That’s the other part of the job that people don’t realize — you actually become friends,” Priebus told host Sean Hannity. “When you go through thick and thin together, you get to know people really well, and he’s a good man, and I was honored to be able to serve him.”

He also addressed a question about Anthony Scaramucci, the new White House director of communications who disparaged Priebus in an R-rated interview with The New Yorker and claimed he would be “asked to resign very shortly.”

“I’m not going to get into that subject. It’s just getting in the mud, and I think the palace intrigue stuff is annoying, and I think it’s a distraction, and it takes away from the president’s agenda,” Priebus told Hannity. “I think what everybody needs to do is focus on the president, to focus on the things he wants to get done for the American people. You know what’s in his heart. I know his heart. He’s a genuine, decent, incredibly hard-working president.”

Priebus’ resignation comes a week after Sean Spicer resigned as Trump’s press secretary — a decision prompted by Scaramucci’s appointment.