Wednesday’s big news out of the Trump administration may have been the report of White House chief strategist, Steve Bannon, being bounced from the National Security Council.
Bannon was added to the NSC principals committee in January, which led many to say Trump was politicizing the council.
The added nuance to that is that the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and director of national intelligence had their roles downgraded, with the addition of Bannon.
Some of the news coming out about yesterday’s surprise move is that Bannon was added to the NSC to “babysit” then-national security adviser Michael Flynn, and with Flynn gone, there was no longer a need for Bannon in that position.
From the New York Times:
In addition to removing Mr. Bannon, the new order issued by Mr. Trump, dated Tuesday and made public on Wednesday, restored the Joint Chiefs chairman and intelligence director and added the energy secretary, C.I.A. director and United Nations ambassador. It also put the Homeland Security Council under General McMaster rather than making it a separate entity, as Mr. Trump’s original order had done.
This was seen by many as a necessary move, as Bannon has been rubbing some other advisers the wrong way, for awhile.
Still, the biggest news may be just how upset Bannon was at being knocked from his role with the NSC.
Mr. Bannon resisted the move, even threatening at one point to quit if it went forward, according to a White House official who, like others, insisted on anonymity to discuss internal deliberations. Mr. Bannon’s camp denied that he had threatened to resign and spent the day spreading the word that the shift was a natural evolution, not a signal of any diminution of his outsize influence.
However, Trump doesn’t like losing, and he’s been losing a lot, lately.
From the failure to initiate a ban on Muslim entrance into the nation – a move some say was orchestrated by Bannon – to his failed attempt to get an Obamacare replacement bill over the finish line, there isn’t a whole lot of “winning” in the Trump White House, and Bannon has his fingerprints on many of Trump’s moves.
Some suggest it was Bannon who instructed Trump to go hard at the House Freedom Caucus, but it was his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, that pulled him back, and suggested he let VP Pence deal with them.
Then there’s this:
Moreover, Mr. Bannon’s Svengali-style reputation has chafed on a president who sees himself as the West Wing’s only leading man. Several associates said the president had quietly expressed annoyance over the credit Mr. Bannon had received for setting the agenda — and Mr. Trump was not pleased by the “President Bannon” puppet-master theme promoted by magazines, late-night talk shows and Twitter.
We know Saturday Night Live has had a field day with portraying Bannon as the Grim Reaper, whispering in Trump’s ear.
Either way, Bannon is out of the NSC now, and we may see an ever-shrinking role in the coming weeks, as the murmuring of Kushner’s dissatisfaction with him seems to be getting louder.
Bannon isn’t the real president, after all. He never was.