by WorldTribune Staff, April 13, 2017
The centrist and nationalist wings within President Donald Trump’s National Security Council (NSC) are battling for ultimate control of the most pressing foreign policy decisions, according to D.C. media outlets.
But is the fight for real or is it media factions outside the White House that is obsessed with power?
Chief strategist Steve Bannon, who was removed from the NSC shortly before the U.S. missile strikes on a Syrian airbase, continues to have the backing of much of the populist base that carried Trump to the White House, including the influential Mercer family, The Washington Post reported on April 12.
Meanwhile, Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner is driving the centrists and has “taken aggressive action to micro-manage the NSC,” according to the Washington Free Beacon.
Bannon told friends that everything is fine and that the excitement is mainly media-generated. The Post compared is continued tenure as hospice care.
Related: Trump: Before Steve Bannon was, I am, April 12, 2017
Bannon, who not long ago was referred to as the “shadow president” is “struggling to keep his job with his portfolio reduced and his profile damaged,” according to the Post, which cited interviews with 21 of Trump’s aides, confidants and allies.
“Some colleagues described Bannon as a stubborn recluse who had failed to build a reservoir of goodwill within the West Wing,” the report said.
To his supporters, Bannon remains an “essential conduit” between the president and his nationalist, populist base.
“The wealthy Mercer family, which has nurtured Bannon’s political rise and infused Trump’s campaign and allied groups with millions of dollars, is closely monitoring Bannon’s falling fortunes,” the Post report said. “Rebekah Mercer, who directs the family’s political activities, is unnerved and worried about losing her best link to a president her family takes credit for helping get elected but believes Bannon will be able to maintain his influence, people close to the family said.”
Kushner, meanwhile, has overshadowed even recently installed National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, the Free Beacon reported, citing sources both inside and outside the White House.
“Never before has a White House permitted such a figure to intervene in the NSC, which is traditionally given leeway to investigate foreign policy matters and bring advice to the president,” the report said, noting Kushner’s influence over foreign policy portfolios such as Iraq, Israel, Mexico, Saudi Arabia and China.
“Kushner is meddling in a lot of things,” said an NSC official who spoke to the Free Beacon only on background. “Such direct control of foreign policy from the West Wing has never happened before. It just creates a lot of drama. People just don’t know how to deal with it. We’re respectful of his position, but it’s confusing the policymaking process.”
Officials working at the NSC, State Department, and Department of Defense “are not happy that Jared is so powerful in foreign policy,” said one White House official. “They are expected to implement the president’s agenda, but have no input or ability to get ideas in front of Jared. It’s a one-man show and that’s creating a lot of frustration.”
The installation of Dina Powell, a confidant of Kushner’s wife Ivanka, to the NSC is said to have been orchestrated by Kushner in order to solidify his power over the foreign policy organization, sources told the Free Beacon.
A White House spokesperson told the Free Beacon the NSC was running smoothly: “The NSC is running beautifully under the leadership of Gen. McMaster who has installed an exceptional team to execute on behalf of the president.”