And the plot thickens.
Just two days after Steve Bannon was booted from the National Security Council, reports are now circulating that both he and White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus are on their way out.
President Trump is considering a broad shakeup of his White House that could include the replacement of White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and the departure of chief strategist Steve Bannon, aides and advisers tell us.
A top aide to Trump said he’s contemplating major changes, but that the situation is very fluid and the timing uncertain: “Things are happening, but it’s very unclear the president’s willing to pull that trigger.”
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.
The West Wing “Game of Thrones” has been raging ever since Trump took office. But the war between the nationalists and the moderates, led by Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump, burst into the open this week after Bannon was taken off the National Security Council, setting off a torrent of leaks against him.
Bannon called reports that he was ready to quit “100 percent nonsense.”
If this doesn’t turn out to be “100% nonsense” then we can safely assume that this administration, under extreme pressure, has just decided to become “Presidential” in a remarkable effort to reverse Bannon’s attempt to institute a sea change in US politics.
All of this seems entirely consistent and very unlikely to be coincidental.
“Bannon emerged as one of Trump’s closest – and most controversial – aides before the president took office. In the early days of his presidency, Trump elevated Bannon onto the National Security Council’s principals committee, and the former Breitbart executive chair was said to hold considerable influence with the president,” The Hill notes, adding that Bannon’s removal from the NSC was “seen by many White House staffers as a sign of the aide’s fall from grace inside the Trump administration.”
This is Bannon on the way out, Kushner assuming a more prominent role, a reversal of course with regard to Syria, Assad, and Russia, and Devin Nunes recusing himself from the House investigation into Trump-Russia ties all within 72 hours.