The warring factions of Donald Trump’s White House are going all out, The New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza reports.
Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump reportedly tried (unsuccessfully) to wield their power and influence over the president by convincing him to stay in the Paris climate agreement. With Trump’s decision on Thursday to withdraw from that agreement, it’s clear chief White House strategist Steve Bannon—who urged the president to break the Obama-era pledge—is back in the president’s good graces.
The shift comes after months of a rumored shakeup” among top Trump staffers (as one Trump adviser said, “It’s easier to understand the papal elections than to understand these f*cking nut cases”). In April, Trump declined to say whether he has “full confidence” in Bannon.
“I like Steve, but you have to remember he was not involved in my campaign until very late,” Trump told the New York Post.
“I had already beaten all the senators and all the governors, and I didn’t know Steve,” he continued. “I’m my own strategist and it wasn’t like I was going to change strategies because I was facing crooked Hillary [Clinton].”
That public statement was widely viewed as condemnation of Bannon. But as Lizza reports, Trump’s chief adviser—who appeals to the president’s nationalistic, anti-government sensibilities—is back on top.
“Imagine you have a seventy-something-year-old very strong personality in the family,” a Republican source explained to Lizza. “And he’s got his golfing buddy who is his best friend. And they go off golfing and drinking and smoking cigars. What he really wants to do is smoke cigars. But the family is telling him, ‘Smoking cigars is really bad for you and the doctor told you not to do it.’ He’s, like, ‘I know, I know.’ ”
“So when he’s around his family, he’s, like, ‘Look, I’m not smoking cigars!’ And then he goes off with his golf buddy,” the source continued. “And guess what they do? They f*cking light up cigars, because that’s actually who he is and what he thinks. And Bannon is like his golfing buddy that he goes and smokes cigars with. That’s actually who he is.”
Kushner and Ivanka Trump, meanwhile, “are concerned with being accepted in the right places, they care about what the beautiful people think,” one source told Liza.
“They care about being well received in the Upper West Side cocktail parties,” the source continued. “They view Steve as a man with dirty fingernails, with some weird, crazy, extremist philosophy they don’t think is in the best interest of the President. With all respect to them, they don’t understand how Trump got elected. They don’t understand the forces behind it, they don’t understand the dynamics of the situation, and they certainly don’t understand his appeal and the people who voted for him—they can’t understand it.”
Kushner and Ivanka are “more or less Trump’s conscience” and would like to see the president “to be more like George Bush: one-dimensional, predictable, neocon, mainstream.” Bannon, meanwhile, is described as the president’s “id.”
But as tensions climb between the two sides, a Republican close to the White House shot down the idea that Bannon’s job was ever in jeopardy.
“Everyone is saying, ‘Oh, there’s been a shift, Bannon is on his way out,’” a Republican told Lizza. “No, he’s not. Bannon is still there. And he’s still the main adviser to the President of the United States. And I believe that there’s always going to be this fight between these different wings of really different philosophies for him. And that’s how the President wants it.”