It’s a sad time when one has to turn to the NYT instead of BNN to find out what’s going on in the West Wing (“Family-Business West Wing Has Young Couple as Pillars”):
More openly than any president before him, Mr. Trump is running his West Wing like a family business, and as he has soured on Mr. Bannon, his combative chief strategist, he has turned to his daughter and son-in-law. Their ascendance has some conservative supporters fretting about the rising influence of the urbane young New Yorkers, as some moderates and liberals swallow concerns about nepotism in the hope that the couple will temper the temperamental president.
There’s this depressing quote from Newt Gingrich:
“If you think of it as a classic business model, Trump likes to invest in winners because they make more money, and Jared has been pretty consistently winning,” said former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, an ally of Mr. Trump’s. “You’re always on a what’s-your-quarterly-report kind of relationship with Trump.”
From a 12 anonymous Trump associates:
Some colleagues, including Mr. Bannon and Reince Priebus, the White House chief of staff, regard Mr. Kushner’s breathtaking list of assignments with comic contempt, according to a dozen Trump associates who insisted on anonymity to discuss Mr. Kushner and Ms. Trump. After Mr. Kushner’s trip to Iraq, White House aides referred to him as the “secretary of state.”
A rare public display of Kushner’s hubris:
Neither Mr. Kushner nor Ms. Trump have government experience. Mr. Kushner, 36, managed the real estate empire he inherited from his family and bought The New York Observer as a side project. Ms. Trump, 35, ran a fashion brand that appealed to young, urban female consumers likely to align themselves with her father’s opponents.
But the quarterly report on Mr. Kushner shows that he has been in merger-and-acquisition mode. One after another, he has expanded his portfolio into a far-ranging set of issues, including Middle East peace, the opioid epidemic, relations with China and Mexico and reorganizing the federal government from top to bottom. “Everything runs through me,” he told corporate executives during the transition.
With Jeff Sessions one of the last nationalist voices in the WH, is it only a matter of time before we see a Kushner-Sessions clash?
Lately, [Kushner] has pushed to overhaul the criminal justice system, a goal that Mr. Trump embraced as a candidate near the end of the campaign when he tried to siphon black voters away from Hillary Clinton. But Mr. Kushner is running into opposition from Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who favors toughening, not relaxing, mandatory minimum sentences.
Of the marginalization of Bannon, we have one more instance of reportage that Trump’s vanity played a big role – that f-ng Time magazine cover again:
At the center of the Trump presidency is a paradox: Even allies acknowledge Mr. Trump is impulsive, indifferent to preparation and prone to embracing the last advice offered. He needs a strong hand to guide him, but insists on appearing in firm command, so any aide perceived as pulling strings can face his wrath sooner or later. It was Mr. Trump, not his children, who pushed Mr. Bannon to the margins, motivated less by ideology than by dissatisfaction with recent failures and his perception that his chief strategist was running an off-the-books operation to aggrandize himself at Mr. Trump’s expense.
Mr. Trump remains annoyed by a February cover of Time magazine labeling Mr. Bannon “The Great Manipulator,” telling one visitor this month, “That doesn’t just happen” — a favored Trump expression for anger at subordinates who tend to their interests ahead of his.
We get a tease of the pressure on Bannon to use his juice to quiet BNN on Jared Kushner:
At the same time, the president and his family have closely monitored Mr. Bannon’s former website, Breitbart, which they regarded as a weapon in his war against White House rivals. Confronted about the site, Mr. Bannon told the president that it was operating beyond his control and against his wishes.
We also learn of Ivanka’s role in getting Bannon marginalized:
[Ivanka] Trump has never been close to Mr. Bannon, although she appreciated the ferocity of his work. She puts him in the category of colorful, rough-hewed characters her father collects, with the likes of Roger Stone, a longtime Trump operative.
In recent weeks, she has spoken bluntly about Mr. Bannon’s shortcomings to the president. She was especially incensed by articles she believed were planted by Mr. Bannon’s allies suggesting he, not her father, honed the populist economic message that helped sweep the Midwest. She made that point in the strongest terms to her father, who agreed, according to a family friend.
Of Bannon’s odds to remain in the West Wing:
Mr. Trump would prefer the situation with Mr. Bannon to stabilize, according to people familiar with his thinking, and to keep Mr. Bannon on board, albeit in a more circumscribed role, than see him become a populist critic outside the gates. Mr. Bannon intuitively understands the president’s connection to white working-class voters and his instinct to demolish political norms. And neither Ms. Trump nor her husband have so far plunged into day-to-day government operations or logged the 18-hour days the indefatigable Mr. Bannon routinely works.
That last sentence cannot be emphasized enough.
Of reaction from the more Alt Right side of things:
The larger shift has generated consternation among Mr. Trump’s supporters. Scott McConnell, a founding editor of The American Conservative magazine, mocked the president’s daughter and son-in-law as “bright, conventionally wisdomed yuppie New Yorkers who have never had to formulate or defend a complicated foreign policy position in their lives.”
Writing on the website Vox, he said, “I certainly didn’t vote for the foreign policy preferences of Jared and Ivanka, or a policy driven by whatever images on TV happened to move the president.”