The Washington Post’s Josh Rogin has an interesting tick-tock report that is looking more likely than not to be totally fake which is unfortunate because it should be true. The story is headlined Inside the White House-Cabinet battle over Trump’s immigration order.
As a recap, the original media story line was that Steve Bannon and Steve Miller had basically concocted Trump’s executive order restricting travel from a handful of failed states and state sponsors or terror in the dead of the night and launched it on their own. We’ve subsequently discovered that House Judiciary Committee staff wrote the EO, that the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel cleared it, and that the Department of Homeland Security knew it was coming. We’ve also heard that while the order doesn’t seem to affect people traveling with Resident Alien status, i.e. green card holders, that Steve Bannon insisted that they be banned, too. This, in great part, is what set off the firestorm.
Rogin provides us with this vignette:
On the evening of Saturday, Jan. 28, as airport protests raged over President Trump’s executive order on immigration, the man charged with implementing the order, Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly, had a plan. He would issue a waiver for lawful permanent residents, a.k.a. green-card holders, from the seven majority-Muslim countries whose citizens had been banned from entering the United States.
White House chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon wanted to stop Kelly in his tracks. Bannon paid a personal and unscheduled visit to Kelly’s Department of Homeland Security office to deliver an order: Don’t issue the waiver. Kelly, according to two administration officials familiar with the confrontation, refused to comply with Bannon’s instruction. That was the beginning of a weekend of negotiations among senior Trump administration staffers that led, on Sunday, to a decision by Trump to temporarily freeze the issuance of executive orders.
The confrontation between Bannon and Kelly pitted a political operator against a military disciplinarian. Respectfully but firmly, the retired general and longtime Marine told Bannon that despite his high position in the White House and close relationship with Trump, the former Breitbart chief was not in Kelly’s chain of command, two administration officials said. If the president wanted Kelly to back off from issuing the waiver, Kelly would have to hear it from the president directly, he told Bannon.
Bannon left Kelly’s office without getting satisfaction. Trump didn’t call Kelly to tell him to hold off. Kelly issued the waiver late Saturday night, although it wasn’t officially announced until the following day.
I’m not a Bannon fan. I find nothing about the guy admirable and I find a lot on the spectrum between “deranged-batsh**-crazy-lunacy” and “outright-and-unmitigated-evil.” From what we’ve seen so far he is not serving either his president or his nation particularly well or honorably. If he didn’t get a knot jerked in his ass by Kelly, he should have.
Unfortunately, this story seems to be #FakeNews of an all to familiar type.
Editor’s Note: Prior to publication of this column, The Post sought comment from the Department of Homeland Security but not from the White House. We should have done both. After publication, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer told The Post that Stephen Bannon did not travel to see Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly on the evening of Jan. 28. – Fred Hiatt
This is not good. In fact, it looks a lot like the story was just too good to check and Rogin didn’t check and neither did his editor. What makes this more questionable is that this would be the second big “inside the belly of the Trump administration” story Rogin has done in as many weeks that turned out to be patent bullsh**. Rogin is the guy that reported last week that four senior State Department staff had resigned rather than work in a Trump administration when, in fact, they were basically terminated.
But, good story, bro. Good story.