With Jared Kushner, Stephen Bannon Picked the One Fight He Couldn’t Win
There have been negative articles recently about Kushner-coming from Trump sources with in. There is, not surprisingly, a lot of jealousy over Kushner’s elevated role in the WH. Perhaps no one person has ever had as large a portfolio in the WH than what’s allegedly on his.
He’s more more or less in charge of everything-Israel peace, Mexico, trade deals, restructuring government-to say nothing of stealing voter files.
And Roger Stone just trashed Kushner on Alex Jones. Stone is not just accusing Susan Rice of spying but now Jared Kushner:
“During a segment on InfoWars today, Roger Stone, who was previously an adviser during the early months of President Trump’s campaign, claimed to host Alex Jones that Trump’s own son-in-law Jared Kushner was leaking information to MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough.”
“Jared Kushner, perhaps the one presidential aide who cannot be fired, is now in regular text message communications with Joe Scarborough,” Stone claimed. “Many of the anti-Steve Bannon stories that you see, the themes that you see on Morning Joe, are being dictated by Kushner. And while Mr. Kushner’s plate is very full with Middle Eastern peace and the China visit, and so on, in this case I think he is disserving the president.”
But Stone said it himself-Kushner is the one guy who’s not expendable. No matter what, he’s not going anywhere.
Bannon finally bit off more than he could chew.
After the demotion, Bannon considered quitting:
“Mr. Bannon resisted the move, even threatening at one point to quit if it went forward, according to a White House official who, like others, insisted on anonymity to discuss internal deliberations. Mr. Bannon’s camp denied that he had threatened to resign and spent the day spreading the word that the shift was a natural evolution, not a signal of any diminution of his outsize influence.”
Yes, that was how Bannon tried to spin it: I’ve now de-operationalized the NSC and eliminated the taint of Susan Rice.
Bannon says he was put on NSC to "de-operationilize" it. Think the word he was looking for was "dysfunctionalize." Mission accomplished. pic.twitter.com/1QoaoZWadT
— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) April 5, 2017
The best explanation of all is that Bannon was there to babysit Michael Flynn. Flynn’s gone now so Bannon can safely move on. Right. Flynn’s been gone 50 days. That makes as much sense as the explanation of why Flynn was fired in the first place: because he lied to Mike Pence. But that had happened three weeks prior…
“There’s no subtle insight required to note that Steven Bannon’s removal from the National Security Council’s principals’ committee may be a significant development. White House officials claim Bannon’s role had primarily been to monitor the activities of former National Security Advisor Mike Flynn. Bannon himself said in a statement: “Susan Rice operationalized the NSC during the last administration. I was put on to ensure that it was de-operationalized.” These explanations barely rise to the level of preposterous and seem to employ big words to make up whatever gap remains. But this dramatic step comes in the midst of other developments which we cannot know are explicitly connected but together look like a qualitative sea-change in the evolution of this still quite new administration.”
“Jared Kushner or his supporters appear to want to take credit for Bannon’s demotion. Who knows whether there’s any truth to that. What I had heard was that Kushner was actually more enamored with Bannon’s slapdash ‘nationalism’ than most observers believed. However that may be, the far more probable explanation is that National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster is slowly consolidating his own authority.”
Marshall and I agree on the absurdity about Flynn or ‘de-operationalization.’ I’m not so sure it’s about McMaster rather than Kushner.
In the first few months, Kushner and Bannon did seem to be on the same side in most battles. And after Flynn was fired in late February, the two of them went over McMaster’s head and forced him to keep Ezra Cohen-Watnick, Cohen-Watnick is Devin Nunes’ former assistant who leaked the mysterious documents that allegedly vindicate Trump but they are still hiding.
However, more recently there has been clear signs that the two have been at loggerheads.
And if McMaster is consolidating why has is desire to get rid of Cohn-Watnick again denied?
One of the salient features of the Trump WH is it’s impossible to figure out what the policy actually is based on what anyone is saying.
If this is a win for McMaster, then you’d expect this to be a win for his policy preferences and style of leadership. But it’s tough to extrapolate that based on what other Trumpians are saying.
For the most part you just can’t tell. If Bannon leaving was a victory for the adults in the room it’s at odds with what Trump then claimed about Susan Rice. That was perhaps the most audaciously troubling thing he’s said yet. For the POTUS to make up criminality like that is clear fascism.
Then take Syria policy. Can anyone figure it out?
1. Last Thursday, Rex Tillerson said basically that the Trump WH is agnostic about Assad. He doesn’t have to go, It’s up to the Syrian people. When you say it’s up to the Syrian people does that include the nine million who have fled the country and the eight million who have lost their homes?
How about those gassed by Assad on Tuesday? Do they get a vote on Assad? Apparently not.
2. Then, after the chemical attack-that arguably was the direct result of Tillerson’s own signal-Trump absurdly blamed Obama not enforcing his red line from 2012. Mind you, at the time. Trump told Obama repeatedly-in tweet after tweet for months, to do nothing about Assad. He had told him not to enforce the red line.
And then there’s what Tillerson said last Thursday. Yet this is all on Obama.
3. Trump seemed to talk a little tougher about Assad-maybe?
Trump signals tougher stance on Syria
US president says gas attack has changed his attitude towards Assad.”
The Financial Times is easy to please. It’s very hard to know what this ‘changed and evolving attitude towards Assad’ means coming from Trump. It’s changed-how, exactly? What was it before?
4. Nicky Haley’s tough words at the UN Council about Assad and Putin’s failure to hold Assad to his pledge for no more use of biological weapons.
The point is look at 1-4 each contradicts the others. It’s impossible to know what the real policy is. My take: Trump is going to keep doing what he’s been doing despite all the misdirection: he will keep carrying Putin’s water in Syria, which means buttressing Assad.
Putin for his part is defending Assad and blaming the Syrian rebels.
Bottomline: whatever the reason for Bannon’s demotion, it’s a welcome development. But you still have to be pretty skeptical that this means some sort of sea change in policy or administration.
P.S. As we saw in my poll out last week, the long awaited poll results are in, and right now I’m just 11 points down vs. Peter King (GOP-NY-District 2). And the voters don’t even know who I am yet.
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