Apr 6, 2017

Trump team turns on Bannon — bigly

MediaPunch / AP

Stephen Bannon was removed from the National Security Council yesterday in a surprise move that suggested the Trump team is turning on Bannon, the president's chief strategist and longtime ally. Here's what we know:

Bloomberg News' Jennifer Jacobs broke the story on Wednesday, noting Trump "reorganized his National Security Council" by removing Bannon.

Drudge Report bannered the Bannon news for most of the day yesterday: "BANNON LOSES POWER IN WHITE HOUSE SHAKEUP."

Trump was reportedly annoyed with the "President Bannon" narrative that emerged from the credit Bannon received for setting Trump's agenda, several associates told NYT. The NYT also pointed out that Bannon's nationalist agenda was hurting Trump.

"He didn't belong on the principals committee to begin with — doesn't really belong in the White House at all," said Representative Adam B. Schiff.

His removal was long-planned, per The Atlantic's Rosie Gray. A White House Official told her that Bannon's role was to "de-operationalize" the NSC from Susan Rice and that Trump had planned to remove Bannon since the beginning of his administration.

The narrative of a mutual decision between Bannon and the WH seems misleading, tweets POLITICO's Eiliana Johnson. "If Bannon was placed on NSC temporarily to 'deoperationalize' it (whatever that means), why wouldn't WH have said that at the outset?"

Bannon reportedly threatened to resign, several outlets noted. "If my talents aren't needed here, I can take them somewhere else," he reportedly said.

GOP mega-donor Rebekah Mercer tried to convince Bannon not to quit, arguing this move is part of a "long-term play," POLITICO reported. However, Bannon told POLITICO that news of his threats to resign are "total nonsense."

One Republican close to Bannon said, per Fox News:

It hasn't all been fun, and I know he's been frustrated.

Jared Kushner could have helped remove Bannon from the NSC, according to POLITICO. Kushner had reportedly complained about Bannon and his desire to "deconstruct the government," which he thought was hurting Trump.

"Bannon has pushed Trump toward a more isolationist policy that holds an especially dark view of the Muslim world," and his nationalistic views have made him an easy target for White House critics, writes the LA Times.

What this says about the White House: Trump and his administration are moving away "from the more hard-line ideological bent of Bannon," per CNN.

"Overall, if the thrust of all of these changes is that Steve Bannon has been removed from the NSC and the principals committee and replaced by Dina Powell... that may show you that the White House is heading in a slightly different direction in terms of decision-making," said John B. Bellinger III, George W. Bush's former legal advisor to the NSC, to WaPo.

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