He’s weathered this storm before, but can he do it again?
People close to the president are saying that Trump suspects his chief strategist, Steve Bannon, is the source of negative stories surrounding H.R. McMaster, as well as the ongoing problem with White House leaks. With that in mind, Bannon’s time may finally be up.
Remember that comment from Anthony Scaramucci, about Bannon trying to perform something akin to a contortionist’s act on himself?
According to Axios:
- Trump has told associates he’s fed up with what he sees as self-promotion by Bannon, who did not join the core team this week at the president’s golf club in Bedminster, N.J.
Further, Bannon does not have the access to Trump that he once had. The addition of John Kelly as chief of staff has stemmed the flow of crazies in and out of the Oval Office, and that includes Bannon.
There has already been a purge of Bannon loyalists from some key positions, so he’s left out on a limb and there’s no real safety net. Because of the changes being made by Kelly, Trump may see Kelly as an enforcer. Kelly boots Bannon and Trump avoids the blowback by the populists that back Bannon.
So what else is up?
- Key West Wing colleagues believe Bannon is an instigator of leaks targeting National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster. The stories have been driven by Breitbart News, where Bannon was executive chairman before joining Trump’s presidential campaign as chief executive in August. On Thursday, Trump backed McMaster as “our friend.”
And again, the notion that Bannon might be getting as popular as, or even more so than Trump, because of book and television miniseries deals.
- Sources close to Trump say he was irritated about Bannon’s extensive cooperation with a book by Bloomberg Businessweek’s Josh Green, “Devil’s Bargain,” with a cover that gave Bannon equal billing with Trump.
- This was a rerun of one of the key factors that put the chief strategist in Trump’s doghouse months ago: a TIME magazine cover dubbing Bannon “THE GREAT MANIPULATOR.”
- In a New York Post interview in April, Trump refused to definitively back Bannon, and declared himself “my own strategist.” After that, Bannon lowered his profile, then temporarily redeemed himself as he helped organize the White House response to Robert Mueller.
Let’s not forget the fragile ego of Trump, which will not allow for anyone in his circle to draw the spotlight away from him.
- When Reince Priebus was chief of staff and facing his own problems, Trump didn’t have an easy vehicle to evict Bannon from the White House. Priebus and Bannon became allies of convenience in a war against Jared and Ivanka (or “Javanka” as Bannon calls them to associates.)
- Bannon has told associates he has nothing to do with the campaign against McMaster — that it’s a spontaneous effort by the base.
Right now, watching social media for the announcement that Trump has “complete trust” in Bannon may be the surest way of determining if Bannon is on the way out. If you hear that “complete trust” line, you know he’s as good as gone.