Though the Trump administration is still in its infancy, shake-ups seem like business as usual. When news broke Wednesday that Trump’s chief strategist Stephen Bannon had been removed from a committee on the National Security Council, the President passed it off as a formality. Now rumors are suggesting that Bannon threatened to walk away from the White House.
The official word on Bannon’s removal from the “Principles Committee” is simple. Bannon, the Trump administration contends, was given the unusual role on the committee in order to help monitor former National Security Advisor Flynn. Once Flynn was fired, there was no need for Bannon to be on the committee, and he no longer attended meetings.
One day later, though, things appear different. Numerous media outlets are reporting that Bannon threatened to quit, and that Rebekah Mercer, an influential Republican donor, talked him into staying. Mercer, Politico reported, “tried to convince him that this is a long-term play.”
The White House is dismissing the rumors that Bannon asked Trump to accept his resignation, and said news that indicated that he did was “total nonsense.”
Jared Kushner’s role in the White House, though, has clearly increased. Trump’s son-in-law is a senior adviser. He’s been entrusted with more complex responsibilities of late, including a visit to Iraq earlier this week. Kushner is also the one Trump has tasked to lead efforts to eliminate excess bureaucracy from the federal government.
The behind-the-scenes drama has people guessing about the relationship (or lack thereof) between Bannon and Kushner. They appear to anaynsts to be leading two distinct West Wing factions. Bannon has the ear of the President, or he did. Kushner appears to have formed allegiances with Gary Cohn, chairman of the National Economic Council, and Dina Powell, deputy security adviser.
While news focused on Bannon’s removal from the Principles Committee, few noted that Powell’s name was added as a member.
The demise of Bannon and the rise of Kushner has been focused mostly on their respective policy positions, though some have reported that the dislike has resulted in name-calling. The Daily Beast, relying on anonymous sources, chronicles it like this:
“[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.
“Cuckservative,” a portmanteau of “cuckold” and “conservative,” has become a favorite slur on the right, used like a sexually and racially charged version of “RINO,” a Republican In Name Only. “Globalist” is a term typically used by nationalist, pro-Trump right-wingers against political opponents; however, the term has also come under fire for at times carrying anti-Semitic tones.
Some turnover is to be expected, of course. And the stresses of the White House undoubtedly cause tempers to flare. That said, Kushner is family. Installing him, and Ivanka Trump for that matter, in positions of power is easy. Removing them from those positions is far more complicated. You can’t fire family.