Is the White House Splitting Into Two Competing Factions?
Coinciding with the missile strike on a Syrian air base that President Trump ordered in the wake of a chemical attack in that country, there have been rumors going around Washington that the air in the White House, particularly around those members of the president’s cabinet who have his ear on a daily basis, is fraught with tension and intrigue.
Word is that White House insiders have divided themselves into two “camps,” one led by Trump Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and Chief Strategist Steve Bannon, and the other led by Trump Senior Advisor and son-in-law Jared Kushner, the husband of Ivanka Trump.
Although some White House aides have denied there’s a rift, Bannon was removed from National Security Council meetings recently, and there have been stories in the press that Priebus’ job is in danger.
Is there any truth to these whispers?
First, let’s take a good look at the players that are involved. Steve Bannon is the former executive chairman of Breitbart News, which is arguably the media backbone for numerous people who voted for President Trump. Bannon was the architect of many of the president’s key policy ideas and has shaped the president’s platform and the values he stands for immeasurably.
It’s Bannon who relentlessly pushed the idea of getting the globalists so tied to ex-President Obama away from government and out of the Washington “swamp.” So threatened did these globalists feel by Bannon that they launched an all-out assault on him on social media, asking liberals and progressives to fight his joining the National Security Council (NSC), claiming he was a racist, was unqualified and had no security credentials.
Ignorant liberals signing the globalists’ petitions (or even phoning their Senators) likely had no idea that Bannon has both a master’s degree in security studies from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service (the same place where Bill Clinton went) as well as a separate master’s from Harvard Business School, and he served for years as an assistant to the Navy’s Chief of Operations at the Pentagon. In short, there’s no reason why Bannon should be denied a seat at the NSC table — then or now.
Reince Priebus is the former chairman of the Republican Party — the party that backed Trump, even when the #NeverTrump movement was in full swing. Although some people say that Priebus isn’t as qualified for his position as Bannon is for his, there’s no doubt that both men have paid their dues as far as helping Trump get into office.
On the other side of the fence are Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump. As the former CEO of Kushner Companies, Jared was essentially given nearly everything in his business empire by his father — who not only is a convicted tax evader and illegal campaign contributor, but still is actively involved with his son’s real estate company (which was mostly his until 2008).
Kushner’s fishy deals surrounding 666 Fifth Avenue, the Manhattan office building that he paid a record $1.8 billion for (most of it borrowed) make even Trump’s past ownership mistakes in Atlantic City casinos look basic by comparison. The fact that a Chinese company is now buying the Kushners out of a deal that many New York real estate professionals thought they were over their heads in at the same moment that Trump is negotiating with China looks more than a little coincidental.
And now, Kushner is assuming even further responsibilities in the White House, with government modernization and Middle East peace being added to his plate. Kushner is only 36, which is incredibly young for someone with so many weighty obligations.
Of course, backing Kushner up is the president’s popular daughter, Ivanka, who proved during Trump’s campaign that she was more than just a pretty face. It’s clear that Ivanka has the president’s ear, perhaps more than almost any other single member of his Cabinet, and it’s hard to imagine that she doesn’t take advantage of this fact to promote the interests of her husband.
Some people are calling the camp led by Kushner and Ivanka “the New York liberals” group, but most liberals (even Bill and Hillary Clinton) don’t have as much money as much as Kushner and Ivanka. Some people have estimated their fortune at as much as $760 million, a number which potentially propels them from the ranks of mere citizens into people that likely rub shoulders with globalists at least part of the time. One has to wonder why, if real estate was so lucrative for the Kushners, that they decided to leave it behind to go to Washington.
Joining Kushner and Ivanka are true globalists Gary Cohn, the head of the White House National Economic Council (WHNEC) and former number two man at global investment bank Goldman Sachs, and Dina Powell, Trump’s Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategy.
Powell was a partner at Goldman Sachs after serving as the Deputy Undersecretary of State under former President George W. Bush. Prior to her role at the Bush State Department, Powell was an assistant to Bush for presidential personnel, a position that allowed her to appoint 4,000 people to government offices — including cabinet members, subcabinet personnel and American ambassadors — during the eight years of the Bush administration.
Powell is Egyptian, and didn’t speak English until she came to the United States with her family at age four. She is currently the highest-ranking native Arabic speaker in the Trump administration.
One White House aide dismissed talk of friction between the two camps, saying that the division is merely the consequence of “creative tension” that the president promotes with the hope that it will lead to new ideas and allow for a multitude of perspectives. Such behavior has been seen from Trump before on his “Apprentice” television shows.
But some Republican figures are unhappy with the unrest. “Every day, it’s something new,” fumed one official close to the Trump White House. “Who would want to work in that environment? It’s toxic. That’s what you have to look forward to every day? Something is wrong, and it has to be corrected and it starts with the president. He has to get that house in order.”
Both Bannon and Priebus have taken hits over the failure of the Obamacare repeal and replacement bill at the hands of the Congressional Freedom Caucus. Bannon was supposed to have started a policy think tank called the Strategic Initiatives Group, but it hasn’t gotten off the ground, and White House officials say it would likely be irrelevant if it had.
Some Bannon allies, such as Trump political consultant Roger Stone and Infowars’ Alex Jones, have charged that Kushner is behind some of the media leaks that have been damaging the Trump White House. As one GOP strategist said, “There shouldn’t be a liberal wing in the White House; that’s not who we elected. Trump was not elected because of Jared Kushner. Trump embraced the views and the ideology of Steve Bannon. If Jared wins out here, we’ll once again have a Democratic White House at odds with a Republican Congress.”
Another Trump ally agreed, saying, “You can’t accomplish the president’s agenda with all of this chaos and conflict. They have to get out of this mode. It’s a frustrating and unnecessary distraction. They say these stories aren’t true, but they’re always putting out fires. The fires are coming from somewhere.”
In the midst of this infighting, it’s been said that President Trump ordered a sit-down meeting between Kushner and Bannon, but it’s unknown if this meeting allowed the pair to “bury the hatchet,” as some media outlets were reporting. Certainly, for the near future, the prospect of continued discord in the Trump White House is something to watch out for.