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.”
In what may be the most dramatic shake-up at the White House since Mike Flynn resigned in February, moments ago Bloomberg reported that President Trump has reorganized his National Security Council on Wednesday, removing his chief strategist, Stephen Bannon and stripping him of his security clearance as well as downgrading the role of his Homeland Security Adviser, Tom Bossert, according to a person familiar with the decision and a regulatory filing.
As a reminder, back in January, in the first of many unexpected shakeups, Bannon was elevated to a position on the NSC principals committee, a move that was met with widespread surprise and skepticism.
Additionally, the Joint Chiefs chairman and intelligence director are having their roles on the principals committee restored, the report said.
As Bloomberg adds, Susan Rice’s successor, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, was given responsibility for setting the agenda for meetings of the NSC or the Homeland Security Council, and was authorized to delegate that authority to Bossert, at his discretion, according to the filing.
Under the move, the national intelligence director, Dan Coats, and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine Corps General Joseph Dunford, are again “regular attendees” of the NSC’s principals committee.
Bannon, the former executive chairman of Breitbart News, was elevated to the National Security Council’s principals committee at the beginning of Trump’s presidency. The move drew criticism from some members of Congress and Washington’s foreign policy establishment.
It was not immediately clear if the shake up is indicative of a major split between Trump and his right hand man and chief ideological advisor, or if this is merely a shake up in the context of the ongoing probe involving Russian interference, although considering the relentless media onslaught against Bannon in recent weeks, it is likely the former.
In any case, the most likely outcome of the shake up is that the “Goldman” circle around Trump – which has been feuding with the Bannon camp since day one – is about to get materially more powerful.
The filing showing Bannon’s demotion is below:
Not one to mince words, Steve Bannon, Trump’s Chief White House strategist, eviscerated the mainstream media during an interview last night. Commenting on their coverage of the Trump campaign, Bannon lambasted the disconnect of the media from everyday Americans saying, “They don’t understand this country. They still do not understand why Donald Trump is the president of the United States.” Per Axios:
“The media should be embarrassed and humiliated and keep its mouth shut and just listen for awhile,” Mr. Bannon said during a telephone call. “I want you to quote this,” Mr. Bannon added. “The media here is the opposition party. They don’t understand this country. They still do not understand why Donald Trump is the president of the United States.”
“The elite media got it dead wrong, 100 percent dead wrong,” Mr. Bannon said of the election, calling it “a humiliating defeat that they will never wash away, that will always be there.”
But that attacks didn’t end there as Bannon went on describe the media as “the opposition party.”
“The mainstream media has not fired or terminated anyone associated with following our campaign,” Mr. Bannon said. “Look at the Twitter feeds of those people: they were outright activists of the Clinton campaign.” (He did not name specific reporters or editors.) “That’s why you have no power,” Mr. Bannon added. “You were humiliated.”
“You’re the opposition party,” Mr. Bannon said. “Not the Democratic Party. You’re the opposition party. The media’s the opposition party.”
Finally, asked whether he was concerned that Sean Spicer had lost credibility with the press after his debate over crowd sizes, Bannon had a similarly pointed answer:
“Are you kidding me?” he said. “We think that’s a badge of honor. ‘Questioning his integrity’ — are you kidding me? The media has zero integrity, zero intelligence, and no hard work.”
Any remaining questions on what Steve Bannon thinks of the mainstream media?