Geez: "Senior administration official" suggests Steve Bannon is a "domestic enemy"

Good lord. I knew Bannon was having a tough time in the White House, but not you’re-a-traitor tough.

“Senior administration official” usually means someone high up the food chain, obviously. Who’s responsible for this quote? Cohn? Kushner? McMaster? Ivanka?

None of these key national security chiefs [Mattis, Kelly, Tillerson] were part of the Trump campaign, or movement. They are seen by those who work most closely with them as loyal to the office of the president but still getting to know the man himself, said a senior administration official, speaking anonymously to describe the interactions just 11 weeks into the fledgling presidency.

“They realize this is a tumultuous White House, and they are serving as a leveling influence over fractious personalities… responsibly protecting the country from enemies both foreign and domestic,” the official said, lumping Trump campaign veterans like embattled advisor Steve Bannon into the “domestic” enemy camp. Bannon’s removal from the official NSC roster by H.R. McMaster is seen as a sign the “adults” are winning.

Dina Powell, maybe? The official quoted here sounds like someone who pays close attention to national security matters. Powell is a deputy NSA and, unlike McMaster, is a close ally of Bannon antagonists Kushner and Ivanka. Just sayin’!

It’s been reported more than once lately that Trump is annoyed at all the anti-Kushner leaking by Bannon and/or his allies. Does that work the other way, though? Implying that Bannon is a “domestic enemy” is much nastier than anything that’s been said about Kushner, yet somehow Team Jared seems to have escaped blame for knifing Bannon. And maybe there’s an obvious reason for that: When the president’s daughter is not only on the team but is reportedly badmouthing Bannon herself, go figure that the president might show some bias.

Ms. Trump has never been close to Mr. Bannon, although she appreciated the ferocity of his work, people close to her said. 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.

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.

The family is allegedly closely monitoring Breitbart to see if — gasp — any new anti-Kushner pieces appear, even as their allies are busy whispering to reporters that Bannon is a “domestic enemy.” (Probably not coincidentally, with Bannon’s status in the White House fragile, the Kushner attacks at Breitbart have dried up lately.) Question: At what point does Bannon decide he’s had enough of this? It’s one thing to find your influence diminished as the president’s family takes a larger role, it’s another thing to have the president giving you the “Steve who?” treatment with reporters and finding yourself attacked daily in the media by the ascendant centrist power complex inside the White House as some cancer on the administration. Bannon’s not a man without leverage; he could claim “populist martyr” status instantly by resigning and returning to outside agitation. If he’s going to end up losing battle after battle to the Jared wing anyway, why not quit and focus on building a proper nationalist grassroots movement? Nationalists need a brain trust and Bannon has a platform in Breitbart that can give them exposure. They also need a farm team of candidates to run for congressional offices and Bannon is one of the few people in politics with the motive and resources to recruit them. Unless he covets the title of “chief strategist” so much that he can’t bear to part with it (and who could blame him, really), his fellow travelers are arguably better off with him on the outside at this point.

Here’s John McCain capturing the mood in Washington right now perfectly.

David Strom 6:41 PM on September 26, 2022