Factions inside Donald Trump’s White House have knives out for one another. Or guns.
“I love a gunfight,” is how the administration’s dark knight, Steve Bannon, apparently described a looming confrontation between his loyalists (Stephen Miller, Kellyanne Conway and the Mercer family) and Jared Kushner’s supporters (Ivanka Trump, Gary Cohn and Dina Powell).
Bannon enjoys this sort of thing. When the White House effort to overturn Obamacare was going down in flames, he brought members of the conservative Freedom Caucus in for a sit-down and issued a warning, according to Axios’s Mike Allen: “Guys, look. This is not a discussion. This is not a debate. You have no choice but to vote for this bill.” The legislators ignored him.
Bannon has no real leverage in Congress, other than whatever evolving regard Republicans have for his boss, and any fear they have of Trump’s media and electoral muscle. Within the White House itself, Bannon’s only authority resides in his proximity to the president — and as I noted on Bloomberg View in February, no one will ever have Trump’s ear and his trust as much as his son-in-law and his daughter do.
This means Bannon will lose any direct confrontation with Kushner, even if he smack-talks behind Kushner’s back. On Friday, Trump’s chief of staff, Reince Priebus, reportedly began trying to broker a peace settlement between Bannon and Kushner, but Priebus himself appears to be in disfavor, so it may be just the blind leading the blind.
Family always comes first in Trumplandia, and family members are usually the only ones with tenure.
That presents hurdles to a president who remains policy-challenged and has just gone ballistic on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad — an about-face on everything he had said about intervention in the Middle East.
Cue Tom Barrack, the chief executive of Colony Capital and a friend of the president who occasionally steps out to explain Trump to the world. Responding to a New York Times query…