I wonder who the target audience is for this transparent nonsense. Is it Trump voters or Trump himself? Vanity Fair isn’t a favorite publication of MAGA nation but a story planted there can trickle out quickly to the wider media.
POTUS will certainly see or hear of it even if it doesn’t, though. I think he’s the mark.
Speaking to Steve Bannon on Tuesday, Trump blamed Jared Kushner for his role in decisions, specifically the firings of Mike Flynn and James Comey, that led to Mueller’s appointment, according to a source briefed on the call. When Roger Stone recently told Trump that Kushner was giving him bad political advice, Trump agreed, according to someone familiar with the conversation. “Jared is the worst political adviser in the White House in modern history,” Nunberg said. “I’m only saying publicly what everyone says behind the scenes at Fox News, in conservative media, and the Senate and Congress.”…
Bannon’s sense of urgency is being fueled by his belief that Trump’s hold on power is slipping. The collapse of Obamacare repeal, and the dimming chances that tax reform will pass soon—many Trump allies are deeply pessimistic about its prospects—have created the political climate for establishment Republicans to turn on Trump. Two weeks ago, according to a source, Bannon did a spitball analysis of the Cabinet to see which members would remain loyal to Trump in the event the 25th Amendment were invoked, thereby triggering a vote to remove the president from office. Bannon recently told people he’s not sure if Trump would survive such a vote. “One thing Steve wants Trump to do is take this more seriously,” the Bannon confidant told me. “Stop joking around. Stop tweeting.”
Let’s see. In the span of two paragraphs, the VF piece bashes a known Bannon enemy in Kushner, positions Bannon as the president’s loyal servant trying to protect him from a coup, and somehow relays a private conversation between Bannon and Trump himself. Either the “Bannon confidant” who spoke to Gabriel Sherman *is* Steve Bannon or it’s someone close enough to Bannon to be privy to his chats with POTUS yet who also feels secure enough to leak those chats to big-media reporters with little fear of repercussion. Anyone think this wasn’t fed to Sherman with Bannon’s full knowledge and endorsement, if not participation?
The 25th Amendment is a nonstarter for anti-Trumpers, although even very smart ones have been known to toy with it. Read the text for yourself and see how many different players in government are required to cooperate in order to remove the president under the amendment’s terms. Is it possible that Mike Pence and a majority of the cabinet secretly think Trump is “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office,” i.e. that he’s unfit because he’s a few fries short of a Happy Meal between the ears? Sure. Is it possible that they’d trigger the removal process by sending a letter to Congress making that assertion? Of course not. You don’t attempt to stage a constitutional coup on the dubious pretext that the president is somehow incapacitated unless you know with certainty that it would succeed, and for this to succeed you’d need the support of two-thirds of both chambers of Congress. They’d never get it, for the same reason that the effort to free the delegates at the convention last summer went nowhere. Too much of the party’s base is too loyal to Trump for other Republicans to try to unseat him. They’d be destroyed at the ballot box when Trumpers boycotted their congressional races, never mind the risk of riots or other forms of domestic unrest over the coup. Even Trump archenemy Jeff Flake scoffed at the idea of using the 25th Amendment. Not until Republican voters are more loyal to their leaders in Congress than they are to Trump would it be remotely politically feasible. And that day of shifting loyalty will never come.
So why is someone whispering to Vanity Fair about it? Because it’s useful fodder for stoking fear and loathing among populists towards the establishment that Bannon is trying to unseat in primaries next spring. The White House spin on Mueller’s Russiagate probe is that it’s a Democratic plot to delegitimize and maybe ultimately remove Trump from office. If, per Bannon, Trump’s own “globalist” cabinet is in on the plot, and if the Ryan-led House and McConnell-led Senate would be in a position to aid and abet his removal via the 25th Amendment, what’s the obvious solution? Simple: Gotta oust some establishment GOPers next spring and replace them with populists. That won’t give Trump fans the numbers in Congress overnight to block a 25th Amendment removal effort but it’ll scare the bejeesus out of Ryan and McConnell and supposedly make them think twice about entertaining any such effort in the first place. Except, of course, they are and were never going to entertain it, knowing how their own voters would react. It’s Trump’s party now. Trying to wrest it back from him via a highly questionably quasi-impeachment wouldn’t solve that problem, it would make it worse.
Still, kind of fun to think that Trump is peeved at Jared and privately scapegoating him for all of his Russia problems. So is Roger Stone’s idea, as told to Vanity Fair, to have a special counsel appointed to investigate Uranium One and Bob Mueller’s role in it. The most fun part: Apparently he wants Andrew Napolitano in the position. Why not Hannity?