Do you fancy yourself a silly person?
No? I didn’t think so.
Which is why I can depend on you to see the proverbial writing when it’s on the proverbial wall, right?
Because clearly, we’ve seen a complete rethink from the Trump administration over the past week.
- Devin Nunes, who was supposed to be the linchpin in the effort to prove that the “real story” is not the Trump campaign’s ties to Moscow, but in fact the Obama administration’s improper surveillance: recuses himself from the investigation
- Steve Bannon, who was supposed to be the “man with the plan” in terms of shaking up the establishment and ushering in a new era for American politics: kicked off the Security Council, and now reportedly fighting for his job after making a series of ill-advised derogatory remarks about Trump’s son-in-law
- The conciliatory stance on Bashar al-Assad: reversed in dramatic fashion following a chemical attack in Idlib
- The Kremlin coddling: gone, as the Pentagon investigates whether Russia sought to destroy evidence in the gas attack on Khan Sheikhoun
If you ask me, someone (probably Kushner) told Trump that if he doesn’t do something fast, he’s likely to get impeached and some folks are likely to end up in jail.
That’s neither a partisan assessment or a conspiracy theory – it’s just a common sense read of a series of events that seem very unlikely to be coincidental.
Well, needless to say, the White House has to keep up appearances. Read below as The Hill explains how the administration is “frustrated” by “false narratives.”
The White House is increasingly frustrated by the never-ending stream of stories about palace intrigue, warring internal factions and imminent staff shake-ups.
Administration officials say these “false narratives” — which they say are driven by White House outsiders — make it more difficult to govern and dominate the news cycle at the expense of President Trump’s political victories.
“Once again this is a completely false story driven by people who want to distract from the success taking place in this administration,” said spokeswoman Lindsay Walters. “The president’s pick for Supreme Court … was confirmed today; we hosted multiple foreign leaders this week; and the president took bold and decisive military action against Syria last night.
“The only thing we are shaking up is the way Washington operates as we push the president’s aggressive agenda forward.”
On Friday morning, hours after a U.S. missile strike on a Syrian air base garnered bipartisan praise on Capitol Hill, news reports about the attack competed with the latest round of stories about internal divisions and speculation that Trump would shake up the top level of his administration.
White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon suffered a demotion this week, losing his seat on National Security Council’s (NSC) principals committee. And he is reportedly frustrated by the rise of Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner, whose ever-expanding portfolio includes Middle East peace and modernizing the government.
A senior administration official dismissed the chatter, telling The Hill that the divisions are merely the result of “creative tension” Trump promotes because he believes it leads to new ideas and allows for a variety of perspectives.
But more reports surfaced on Friday that both Bannon and chief of staff Reince Priebus, whose standing in the administration has been the focus of intense speculation since he first arrived at the White House, could be on the way out.
Once again, the White House found itself rushing to deny an impending shake-up.
“We are not making any staff changes and our team is focused on the president’s agenda not false palace intrigue stories,” a high-ranking official told The Hill.
Aboard Air Force One Thursday, reporters peppered Trump and White House press secretary Sean Spicer with questions about Bannon and the potential for a staff change.
Administration officials argue that these stories have circulated for months despite little actual White House turnover. The organizational chart remains largely intact, they say, with the exception of fired former national security adviser Michael Flynn and former Priebus deputy Katie Walsh, who was transferred to a pro-Trump outside group.
The administration has “already shaken things up,” Trump said.
Vice President Pence defended Bannon in a separate interview, saying that Trump’s chief strategist would “continue to play important policy roles.” And Spicer tweeted a picture of Trump in a meeting about the Syria strike surrounded by Priebus, Bannon, Kushner and other top advisers.
Reports of instability inside the White House put Trump’s staff on the defensive on a day when it seemed certain that Trump would get a political boost for taking action against Syrian President Bashar Assad, who provoked international outrage after officials said he used chemical weapons against his own people.
The president scored another major victory on Friday with the confirmation of his Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch, fulfilling a major campaign promise to conservatives.
Still, much of the chatter inside Washington focused on the fate of Trump’s top advisers.
Some Trump allies say the White House has only itself to blame. Top officials are known to speak regularly to the press, with details of private interactions — and oftentimes contradictory versions of events — spilling into the pages of Beltway publications.
“Every day, it’s something new,” fumed one Republican with close ties to the White House. “Who would want to work in that environment? It’s toxic. That’s what you have to look forward to everyday? Something is wrong and it has to be corrected and it starts with the president. He has to get that house in order.”