The feud between Trump and Steve Bannon appears to be a thing of the past.
As part of his extended interview with Bloomberg on Monday, Trump dismissed speculation that his administration is split by discord, saying he is sticking by his polarizing chief strategist, Steve Bannon, calling him a “very decent guy” who is getting a “bad rap.” Trump even revealed his own term for Bannon’s ideology, calling it “alt-left,” a pun on Bannon’s ties to the conservative “alt-right” movement.
Why alt-left? Because as Trump explains, “Bannon’s more of a libertarian than anything else, if you want to know the truth,” Trump said during the Oval Office interview.
More importantly, Bloomberg adds that Trump’s “playful approach” to the former chief of Breitbart News, arguably the biggest target of liberal fury, and his other comments about his staff suggest that a widespread shakeup of his inner circle is unlikely in the near future.
Trump added that both Bannon and Reince Priebus would likely still be in their same roles several months from now, along with two other figures in his administration who have drawn withering fire: counselor Kellyanne Conway and press secretary Sean Spicer. Confirming reports from early April, Trump also said that Bannon and his son-in-law Jared Kushner had managed to repair their relationship.
“Bannon is a very decent guy who feels very strongly about the country. Likewise, Jared. And they’re getting along fine,” Trump said, calling Kushner “a very brilliant young guy.”
The president did, however, acknowledge past tensions on the staff: “We have a lot of people that are getting along well,” Trump said. “It’s coming out better now than it was, you know, for a while. And for a while it was a little testy, I guess for some of them, but I said they’ve got to get their acts together.” Taking a walk down memory lane, Bloomberg reminds us that the heat switched to Bannon (previously it was on Priebus after the first failed attempt to pass Obamacare repeal) after his April 4 removal from the principals committee of the National Security Council. This was followed by reports of in-fighting between Bannon and Kushner. As we reported on April 8, one day prior Priebus, at Trump’s request, oversaw a session of “marriage counseling” for Bannon and Kushner. The pair agreed to resolve their differences, aides said.
The Bloomberg interview then goes over the tenuous relationship between Trump’s two (until recently) top advisors.
Priebus, the former Republican National Committee chairman, has looked to merge the outsider world of the Trump campaign with the party establishment he’s long led. Bannon, for his part, been among the most vocal advocates for a nationalist, anti-establishment approach to governance within the Trump White House.
The two men were in charge of running operations within a Trump White House that has experienced a string of blunders and missteps, including a travel ban barring visitors from seven Muslim-majority countries that was hastily written and quickly blocked by federal courts.
One White House official said last week that Trump’s top aides believe they have learned better the governing process and are now striving to keep various agency leaders and decision-makers in the loop so that no one feels shut out.
Either that, or they have both realized that with the ascent of Mnuchin and Cohn to the innermost circle of Trump advisors, their opinions simply no longer matter as much, and so it is best to simply indeed get along, or at least go along for the ride.
Trump concluded by saying that he didn’t expect to see departures from the White House soon. “Now, I will tell you, probably people are going to get job offers. You know, things happen,” he said. “But I’m very happy with our group. We’re doing very well.”