The Phaserl


You Got Trumped: Bannon Banned and Cohn-Kushner Establishment Advanced

by David Haggith, The Great Recession Blog:

President Trump, how’s that swamp drainage project going?

Another big move in the last couple of weeks has been the sidelining of Trump’s chief strategist Steve Bannon as the Goldman-Sachs group wins more influence in the White House. Bannon has been the guardian of the anti-establishment hopes that put Candidate Trump in office.

Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), one of the president’s most vocal backers on Capitol Hill, said he’s been disheartened by the chief strategist’s isolation. “A lot of us look at Steve Bannon as the voice of conservatism in the White House,” said King, who has known Bannon for years. (Politico)

As Newsmax reports,

In a White House marked by infighting, top economic aide Gary Cohn, a Democrat and former Goldman Sachs banker, is muscling aside some of President Donald Trump’s hard-right advisers to push more moderate, business-friendly economic policies…. More than half a dozen sources on Wall Street and in the White House said Cohn has gained the upper hand over Trump’s chief strategist, Steve Bannon, the former head of the right-wing website Breitbart News…. White House sources say he will lead the charge for Trump on top domestic priorities such as tax reform, infrastructure and deregulation…. Crucially, Cohn also has the trust of Jared Kushner, Trump’s adviser and son-in-law, and his wife Ivanka, Trump’s daughter.

The family business

Cohn and Kushner met at Goldman Sachs when Kushner was an intern there. Jared Kushner is, of course, the president’s son-in-law, married to Ivanka Trump. It was Kushner who paved the way for Cohn to meet Donald Trump after Trump became president-elect. Trump and Cohn did not know each other during the campaign.

Kushner and Bannon, on the other hand, largely butted heads in the months that followed the election. In a family business, it doesn’t pay to run at odds with the family, and the White House seems to be running as a family business.

While Trump seems to thrive on chaos and conflict as a leadership principle, the conflict became too much even for him, so two weeks ago he ordered Bannon and Kushner to find a way to “knock it off” and make it work. Trump moved Bannon out of his involvement in intelligence affairs and then began to undercut him publicly in interviews.

“I am my own strategist,” Mr. Trump told the New York Post columnist Michael Goodwin in an interview on Tuesday, a pointed reference to what aides described as his growing irritation that Mr. Bannon’s allies are calling him the mastermind behind Mr. Trump’s victory…. In an interview with The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday, Mr. Trump made clear Mr. Bannon’s subordinate role, calling him “a guy who works for me.” (The New York Times)

Of course, the New York Times hates Bannon, who has attacked The Times, and would love to see him lose his office. They refer to him as …

the self-proclaimed deconstructor of the “administrative state” and field general in the war against the “opposition party” news media.

“Opposition party news media.” That would be the NYT. Nevertheless, the diminishing words about Bannon did come from Trump’s mouth. When asked if he still has confidence in Bannon, Trump’s refusal to endorse him was readily apparent:

I like Steve, but you have to remember he was not involved in my campaign until very late. I had already beaten all the senators and all the governors, and I didn’t know Steve. I’m my own strategist and it wasn’t like I was going to change strategies because I was facing crooked Hillary…. Steve is a good guy, but I told them to straighten it out or I will. (The New York Post)

Damned by faint praise.

According to White House gossip reported in Axios,

Bannon allies inside and outside the White House were taken by surprise when Goodwin’s column posted, and are distraught. Bannon allies are bitter about the role they believe economic adviser Gary Cohn has played in undercutting their guy to POTUS. In private conversations, they call him “Globalist Gary.” Axios … is told that President Trump didn’t like the stories about Bannon as the Svengali, or leaks against Jared and Ivanka, or planted stories that he blamed Bannon for. It was less than 10 weeks ago that Bannon appeared on the cover of TIME as “THE GREAT MANIPULATOR,” with the inside story asking if he was “the Second Most Powerful Man in the World.”

Bannon got crosswise with Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump, who are pushing for a more competence- and results-driven focus for the West Wing. In their view, Bannon is too inclined to want to burn things down and blow things up. (“Trump plans centrist push and Priebus is on board“)

I call it gossip because sources are, as is standard journalism now, nameless.

It seems likely as several news outlets have said that Bannon is losing Trump’s support because Trump’s most-botched moves, such as the Obamacare repeal and the immigrant travel ban, have been the ones Bannon orchestrated, and the president doesn’t like losing or losing face. That much we know from Trump’s public history. By undermining Bannon publicly, Trump has given Kushner the dominant role in the background at the White House. (People follow the flow of power. You can be sure everyone in the White House has figured out where the power portal to POTUS is.)

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