The Trump White House is flailing like a beached whale right now as Kremlin Gate looms like a tsunami in the distance. They can hear it roaring and it’s only a question of time before it arrives, smashing them down, engulfing them and splintering their soon to be lost dreams of glory. And who is the only man who can stop it, or so he tells them? Steve Bannon. Steve Bannon has advised Donald Trump that his only hope is to “go to the mattresses,” under Bannon’s direction if he wants to save his presidency. This from the Washington Post:
Although much remained fluid Saturday, the beefed-up operation could include the return of some of Trump’s more combative campaign aides, including Corey Lewandowski, who was fired as campaign manager nearly a year ago, and David N. Bossie, who was deputy campaign manager and made his name in politics by investigating Bill and Hillary Clinton for two decades. Both men have been part of ongoing discussions about how to build a war room that have been led in part by chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon.
It should be interjected at this point that Steve Bannon took the position of campaign manager to Trump on the condition that Trump place him at the top and give him free reign. Bannon at that point was thinking as a salesman, utilizing his Goldman Sachs training and speaking in terms of “points” i.e. votes, and “closing.” He told the Hollywood Reporter in an interview, “I knew she couldn’t close. I knew we would win.” After that there was a change. The Sun Tzu books came out and the nomenclature became warlike. Steve Bannon chistened his office the “War Room.” Bannon is now adding a touch of Hollywood metaphor as well, as he describes last ditch efforts to save the Trump Crime Family from itself. The Post:
“Go to the mattresses,” a line from the film “The Godfather” about turning to tough mercenaries during troubled times, has circulated among Trump’s friends, said two people close to the war room discussions.
“The bottom line is they need fresh legs; they need more legs,” said Barry Bennett, who served as a political adviser to Trump during the general-election campaign. “They’re in full-scale war, and they’re thinly staffed.”
As Trump has participated in meetings with world leaders in recent days, senior aides — including Bannon, Kushner and Chief of Staff Reince Priebus — have met in the White House to discuss a potential reshuffle.
The Mafia analogy is perfect, because Bannon intends to restaff the White House from the top down, and the place will be littered with bodies, metaphorically speaking. First on the hit list is Bannon’s purported best friend in the White House, Reince Priebus. Does anybody remember the New York Magazine article depicting their male-buddy love-rapport? Allow me to refresh your memory because Reince won’t be around much longer, supposedly.
Back in the mists of February New York Magazine asked Priebus and Bannon to explain media reports that they were at that time “engaged in a bitter, zero-sum power struggle to win primacy with Trump, instead of continuing to function as improbable co-equals.” Here’s what they said then:
Bannon and Priebus spoke with me on a prearranged conference call, joined by Katie Walsh, Priebus’s deputy, and Lindsay Walters, deputy to press secretary Sean Spicer. For about 25 minutes, talking into Walsh’s cell phone on speaker mode, Bannon and Priebus performed a buddy comedy, finishing each other’s sentences and swearing up and down that they are good friends who work together well — and constantly.
“I’m quite aggressive, and Reince is a calming influence on hey — bang bang bang, here’s how we ought to think about doing that,” Bannon said, explaining how their personal styles complement each other.
“We talk a lot, pretty much all day long,” Priebus said. “And then we communicate at night —”
“Until we fall asleep,” Bannon interjected with a laugh.
Priebus cut in, “Until somebody falls asleep … You fell asleep last night.”
This was all hyperbole and lies back in the day. They were proselytizing great friendship for one another because everybody in media knew that one of them was responsible for the leaks pouring out of the White House like beer into the tap drain when the spigot has been left on. Here’s what Obama aide and media pundit Dan Pfieffer told New York Magazine: “If you read between the lines in some of the anonymous quotes, it’s clear that Bannon, [Jared] Kushner, and Priebus are spending half their time blaming each other and the other half ensuring they don’t get the blame.”
They may have told a reporter about backrubs but here’s a picture of Bannon attempting to embrace Reince in a literal sense at the 2017 Conservative Political Action Conference. It’s at least as good as Melania’s hand swat of Donald. In all events, no love lost between Priebus and Bannon and Bannon plans to ship Priebus out. The Post:
Underscoring the uncertainty of what lies ahead, some Trump associates said there have been conversations about dispatching Priebus to serve as ambassador to Greece — his mother is of Greek descent — as a face-saving way to remove him from the White House. A White House spokeswoman strongly denied that possibility Saturday.
The president has expressed frustration — both publicly and privately — with his communications team, ahead of the expected overhaul.
Yes, the communications team is going to be re-worked and Sean Spicer will soon be history, but he’s small potatoes, who cares? Kellyanne Conway didn’t pile onto Air Force One for the European tour so make of that what you will. Oh, and Jason Miller is going as well. Try not to cry, ladies. We must be strong. Again the Post:
“The deep state and the swamp and many in the media are never going to let up,” added Jason Miller, who served as Trump’s senior communications adviser during the campaign and remains close to the White House. He is not expected to come back in a formal role.
Well the Breitbart graft didn’t take hold, it looks like. Sebastian “The Nazi” Gorka went, Jason “The Nazi Look-a-like” Miller is going, and Julia Hahn was supposed to come to assist Steve Bannon but never made it. She can keep the home fires burning at Breitbart, however, because who knows who might be coming back through the door next? And maybe that’s for the best because the Trump White House is not a place that you want to work. Vanity Fair shared this (datelined May 17th but more applicable post-European tour than it was then:)
… his staff has been left holding onto the railings for dear life. The Daily Beast reported on Monday that senior staffers were “hiding in offices” to avoid the press. Those who ventured out were “confused and squabbling,” The New York Times noted. Reporters overheard senior officials shouting so loudly after the Post story broke on Monday evening [revealing information to the Russian Ambassador that had been obtained through an intelligence-partner who did not agree to the revelation in the Oval Office] that they had to turn up the TV in Spicer’s office in order to conceal their own yelling from reporters gathered outside (a claim the White House denied). Politico quoted a White House official saying “We are kind of helpless” after the news broke on Tuesday. In a follow-up, the Daily Beast talked to a senior administration official who said, “I feel like running down the hallway with a fire extinguisher,” after the latest development.
Not only are staffers on edge about the fate of their jobs, facing a boss who the Times said has been calling even them “incompetent” and publicly undermining any public statements they may give in his defense, but they’re also finding it difficult to actually do the job of governing with all the self-inflicted crises. “It’s Impossible to get quiet time,” the staffer told me. “These two weeks were supposed to be light.”
So throwing Reince Priebus and the sardines to the side, who is the next big kahuna in this fish fry? None other than Jared Kushner, previously star of an epic called “The Son In Law Also Rises” but now ready to be cancelled. Trump depended upon Jared more than anybody to take care of everything — peace in the Middle East, a solution to the opoid epidemic and keeping the press at bay, just to name a few. Back to Vanity Fair:
Having created a string of crises that now threaten to upend his presidency, Donald Trump is reportedly deeply frustrated with the team—Sean Spicer, Reince Priebus, and even his son-in-law, Jared Kushner—who’ve failed to contain it. It is a self-immolating dynamic, and a harum-scarum rhythm … Stephen Bannon, the president’s chief strategist, who had fallen out of favor within the West Wing after butting heads with Kushner, has also appeared back in the fray. One White House aide noted to me on Tuesday that Bannon, whom the aide had called “irrelevant” a week earlier, had been in meetings with the president and senior staff over the last week. He was among those shouting in Spicer’s office Monday evening, and notably, Bannon was reported to be the only one of Trump’s advisers who had strongly counseled against firing Comey and predicted the fallout.
Did you catch that? Bannon was the ONLY ONE of Trump’s advisors to counsel against the firing of Comey and to predict the fallout. Clearly, Trump decided to listen to Jared and the others — and “the others” are Jared’s allies in the White House, not unbiased observers, mind you — and look at the price he paid. Trump listened to Jared over Bannon and The New York Times wrote about the result:
Mr. Trump, who was looking through papers, reacted calmly but defiantly at first, [to news of special prosecutor being appointed by Rosenstein] according to two people familiar with the events, saying he wanted to “fight back.” Realizing the seriousness of the situation, he quickly summoned his staff, including Sean Spicer, the press secretary; Michael Dubke, the communications director; Mr. Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner; Reince Priebus, the chief of staff; Hope Hicks, a longtime aide; Kellyanne Conway, a senior adviser; and Stephen K. Bannon, his chief strategist.
Most of those gathered recommended that the president adopt a conciliatory stance and release a statement accepting Mr. Rosenstein’s decision and embracing a swift investigation that would clear the cloud of suspicion hovering over the West Wing.
Mr. Kushner — who had urged Mr. Trump to fire Mr. Comey — was one of the few dissenting voices, urging the president to counterattack, according to two senior administration officials. After a brief discussion, however, calmer heads prevailed, and Mr. Trump’s staff huddled over a computer just outside the Oval Office to draft the statement that was ultimately released, asserting the president’s innocence and determination to move on.
So now we learn that Jared is not only stupid, he doesn’t know when to stop. Oh, yes, aggravating Comey more would have helped the situation. Here’s New York Magazine’s analysis of the event:
So, when Trump showered his own presidency in gasoline and lit matches last week – and proceeded to toss a few new logs onto the fire each day since – Kushner must have been shouting his objections while trying to activate the White House sprinkler system. Or so one might have thought. According to the New York Times, Kushner was actually fanning the flames….Even if one assumes that Kushner was ignorant of step one – and, thus, did not know that Trump was freeing Comey to spill the beans about his (apparent) attempts to obstruct justice – it’s still remarkable that he supported Comey’s abrupt ouster. It shouldn’t be difficult for a minimally intelligent pragmatist to intuit that firing the FBI director without a whisper of notice to him, and barely any to the White House communications team, could backfire.
So: How should we account for Kushner’s behavior. There is, of course, the possibility that he is somewhat less than “minimally intelligent.” Alternatively, he could be wisely sycophantic: At a time when Trump is looking around the White House for aides to blame for his frustrations, there may be some benefit to being the adviser who suggests the course of action that Trump’s most eager to take.
Or, maybe, Jared’s scared.
Remember: If Michael Flynn got up to anything untoward with Russian operatives during the transition period, there’s a decent chance Kushner did too.
Kushner’s involvement with the Russians now sit on top of a mountain of allegations against the White House, causing critics to question the credibility of several advisors closest to the new president.
New revelations surrounding the FBI Russia investigation will likely continue to flood the news cycle as a special counsel ramps up the probe, spearheaded by the newly-appointed Robert Mueller. Whether those revelations force Kushner’s removal from a turbulent White House, and what impact that would have on the Trump administration, remains unclear.
When and if “revelations force Kushner’s removal” that should be quite a scene in the White House. You think there was yelling in Spicer’s office before — I can only imagine what it will be like. There have been a few seashore metaphors herein and here’s another; the Trump administration has a stench like fish left out in the sun for a week. But that’s not the takeaway. This is: Trump didn’t get here by himself and so let’s give credit for this shitshow to the people who sponsored, produced and directed it and are totally responsible; the Republican party. They own this. And they’ve done this same show before, although not as bad.
The last time the GOP tried to run the show by executive fiat with a figurehead cardboard cut-out president was the reign of George W. Bush. That was disaster enough but the GOP won’t stop. The Trump administration is such an experience that not only can the English language not describe it, even foreign words like “debacle” and “fiasco” fail to encompass its marvel. Apparently the reign of “W” failed to make it clear that the job of POTUS is not ceremonial in nature, and a symbol cannot lead our country; it takes a special man or woman of extraordinary insight and vision.
Trump lacks even normal insight. He learns by listening and he only listens to things that directly pertain to him. That is his narcissism and that is his downfall. Add to that his profound ignorance of and indifference to all things not Donald and you have the recipe for a man who is not a leader in any way, shape, or form. A leader is other-centered, compassionate, and empathetic, for openers. Donald Trump cannot qualify for leadership at entry level let alone adequately fill the shoes of the highest office in the land. Trump has degraded the office of president, defiled the White House by his very presence, and debased the currency of being an American in the eyes of the entire world. He has to go.
This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.