Donald Trump’s presidency is only 11 weeks old (not 13), and he’s already weighing a massive White House shake-up that would see the ouster of both Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and Chief Strategist Steve Bannon, according to Axios’s Mike Allen.
Names of potential Priebus replacements are already being kicked around, with Allen hearing from one insider that candidates include House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Trump’s economic adviser Gary Cohn.
If Priebus is sent packing it will be primarily for his failure to engineer a major victory in the beginning of the Trump administration. The Trumpcare debacle is its biggest stain and the president is said to hold Priebus partially responsible for its failure.
But Bannon’s potential departure is the far juicier story here, as he and Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, tussle for control of the president’s agenda. The latest battle in that war took place earlier this week when Bannon was booted from the National Security Council. That resulted in leaks that he may quit, which Bannon called “100 percent nonsense.”
“The tension, the exhaustion, the raw nerves have gotten much harder to disguise,” one top aide told Axios.
Bannon wants Trump to become the nationalist’s wet dream he appeared to be on the campaign trail. He keeps a list of Trump’s campaign promises on his wall, checking off those fulfilled. And he watches with rage as Kushner and his ally Gary Cohn pull Trump toward the center. Bannon derides them as “Democrats,” and hates their mainstream politics as much as he hates getting dressed and going to work every day. Kushner, meanwhile, believes he’s protecting Trump from the bad headlines that have dogged his first 11 weeks (not 13) in office. He wants to expand the president’s appeal and boost his poll numbers.
Trump, through it all, wants to keep them fighting, because that’s what his free-for-all style of management calls for. And so the boyish Kushner and slovenly Bannon feed friendly media negative items about each other, they clash over attempts to work with Democrats on issues such as infrastructure, and they diverge on whether to intervene in Syria, which Kushner favored and Bannon opposed. It became clear last night who won that argument.