Another bad, bad tea leaf about Bannon’s job security to go with all the others from this past weekend.
How nasty could this get?
Outside forces opposed to McMaster are going to allege he has a drinking problem, according to sources outside the Trump administration familiar with the anti-McMaster campaign. The controversial nationalist Mike Cernovich, who has an inside track on the anti-McMaster campaign, teased the alcohol attack in an Internet video with Alex Jones of the website Infowars. Anti-McMaster forces believe this attack will harm his standing with the president, who is a teetotaler…
Chief of Staff John Kelly finds the attacks dishonorable and disgusting, according to a source close to Kelly. President Trump is also off-put by the campaign against McMaster — even though his relationship with his National Security Adviser has at times been strained.
That’s from Jonathan Swan at Axios, who emphasizes that he’s never heard anything to support that accusation from people inside the administration or those who socialize with McMaster. A nasty smear of the NSA when people in the West Wing are reportedly already blaming Bannon for the populist media attacks on him seems more likely to end with Bannon being fired than McMaster. But … maybe that’s what Bannon wants? Just a theory, but there’s logic to it.
The Daily Beast is hearing that Bannon may be in line for a demotion rather than an outright firing. There’s logic in that too.
Kelly, in his various conversations with other White House aides, has heard from at least three White House officials that “Bannon is a problem,” according to one Bannon colleague…
“[Kelly] has made it clear to everyone he… wants an end to the drama,” one senior Trump administration official told The Daily Beast, describing Kelly’s desire for reining in Trump’s staff. Officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not cleared to discuss internal matters.
Other officials are expecting, if not an outright sacking, an “effective demotion” of Bannon, as one senior White House official characterized it. Under such a scenario, the White House chief strategist’s portfolio would be reduced, though he’d remain inside the building.
“There are some who are genuinely worried about what he could do from the outside, if thrown out,” said one official to the Beast. I think it was LBJ who once said that when dealing with a troublemaker, it’s better to have them inside the tent pissing out then outside the tent pissing in. Keeping Bannon on and giving him a sinecure in the West Wing where he has little influence over policy but continues to enjoy the prestige of a White House position may be optimal for Trump. (If you believe Politico, Bannon is already “isolated” now that Priebus is gone, spending his days “either holed up in his office or attending meetings.”) That’ll force populist media to pull some of their punches against Trump and will keep Bannon himself from rabble-rousing publicly against the administration. If it’s true that Bannon has quietly encouraged the attacks on McMaster, that may be his endgame — either to get Trump to fire him and make him a martyr to the “globalist” takeover of the White House, which would further build Bannon’s cred on the right, or to scare Trump into guaranteeing his job security by implicitly reminding the president that he could be next in line for the McMaster treatment if Bannon is canned.
Or maybe Bannon understands that this is ultimately a game of “Survivor” and now is his moment to keep quiet, survive, and wait for the fickle Trump to inevitably turn against Kelly and McMaster. It’s hard to believe we won’t reach a stage in Trump’s presidency where he’s so frustrated with everyone and everything that he decides to fire all of the pros around him and cocoon himself with the people who were with him when he was a phenomenon last year. Lewandowski, Bossie, Christie, maybe even Roger Stone — they’re all coming in once Trump eventually reaches the “I’ll do it my way” YOLO phase. Bannon is part of that crowd. That’ll be his comeback moment.
— Meet the Press (@MeetThePress) August 13, 2017