Shakeup? Are Reince Priebus And Steve Bannon On The Chopping Block?

Matt Vespa
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Posted: Apr 08, 2017 9:00 AM
Shakeup? Are Reince Priebus And Steve Bannon On The Chopping Block?

Well, there seems to be a rather intense war between Senior Adviser Jared Kushner and White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon, where aides and staffers said that the two are pretty much coming close to throwing punches. One official said that Bannon calls Kushner a “cuck” behind his back, agitated over Kushner bringing in Zeke Emanuel, one of the architects of Obamacare, to discuss health care. Bannon reportedly feels that Kushner is trying to force him out of the administration (via Daily Beast):

The fighting between Kushner and Bannon has been “nonstop” in recent weeks, according to sources who spoke on condition of anonymity. It’s been an “open secret” that Bannon and Kushner often clash “face-to-face,” according to senior officials.

One official said Bannon has lately complained about Kushner trying to “shiv him and push him out the door” and likened him to a fifth column in the White House.

“[Steve] recently vented to us about Jared being a ‘globalist’ and a ‘cuck’…He actually said ‘cuck,’ as in “cuckservative,’” the administration official told The Daily Beast.

This internal drama only magnifies the rumors that President Trump is mulling a major overhaul of his top staff. The recent development of Bannon being removed from the National Security Council only brings more intrigue to this civil war regarding Bannon and Kushner. The New York Times reported that Bannon simply could not compromise with Kushner on anything because the latter is a member of the Democratic Party.

Thick with tension, the conversation this week between Stephen K. Bannon, the chief White House strategist, and Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, had deteriorated to the point of breakdown.

Finally, Mr. Bannon identified why they could not compromise, according to someone with knowledge of the conversation. “Here’s the reason there’s no middle ground,” Mr. Bannon growled. “You’re a Democrat.”

[…]

While alliances have been fluid in this White House, Mr. Kushner is joined by more centrist-minded advisers including not only his wife, Ivanka Trump, who now has her own West Wing office, but also Gary Cohn, the president’s national economics adviser, and Dina Powell, a deputy national security adviser, both veterans of Goldman Sachs.

Mr. Bannon’s closest ally is Stephen Miller, the president’s senior adviser for policy and the author of orders to temporarily ban visitors from certain predominantly Muslim countries. And although they were once at odds and still come from vastly different vantage points, Mr. Bannon has also maintained an alliance of convenience lately with Reince Priebus, the chief of staff closely associated with the Republican Party establishment.

In recent weeks, as Mr. Bannon has felt increasingly frustrated, Mr. Priebus has several times bolstered the chief strategist in discussions with the president, according to people with direct knowledge of the talks. In turn, Mr. Bannon has gone out of his way to praise his onetime rival’s performance.

The Times added that the president has begun to ask visitors how he thinks his team is doing, specifically White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus who he reportedly places partial blame for the collapse in their recent push on health care.

Over at Axios, they’re reporting that both Priebus and Bannon could be on the chopping block, including a list of possible candidates who could replace Reince. They liken this palace intrigue to “Game of Thrones.”

Insiders tell me that the possibilities for chief of staff include:
  • House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who developed a bond with Trump as one of the earlier congressional leaders to support him, and remains a confidant.
  • Wayne Berman of Blackstone Group, a Washington heavy-hitter who was an Assistant Secretary of Commerce under President George H.W. Bush, and a key adviser on eight presidential campaigns.
  • David Urban of the Washington advisory firm American Continental Group, and a former chief of staff to the late Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.). Urban helped Trump win an upset victory in Pennsylvania, and was in constant cellphone contact with the candidate throughout the campaign.
  • Gary Cohn, Trump's economic adviser and the former #2 at Goldman Sachs, who has built a formidable team and internal clout.

At the same time, they also noted that getting rid of Mr. Bannon will not be easy:

His staunchest ally is one of Trump's closest confidants — Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Kellyanne Conway will go to the mat for him, as will policy advisor Stephen Miller. He's also built strong relationships with other cabinet secretaries including Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin. In the end, though, family matters most and all but dad are done with Bannon and his politics.

“I love a gunfight,” said Bannon.

CNN added that Bannon has reportedly conceded that a war with Kushner is “unwinnable” due to the president’s loyalty to his family. In the era of unnamed sources, the network added that one Trump confidant told them that Bannon could be shown the door soon. The Trump White House has pushed back against any stories regarding the unrest between the two top aides, calling them distractions.