Looks like the writing is on the wall for Steve Bannon, even though he still wields significant power in the White House. The question is: for how much longer?
The news this week that Bannon was removed from the National Security Council is beginning to look like the first strike at showing him the door. The ridiculous explanation offered by the White House – that Bannon was only installed on the Council to keep an eye on disgraced National Security Advisor Michael Flynn – doesn’t hold water in light of the fact that Bannon never bothered to attend the NSC principals committee meetings and was removed a full six weeks after Flynn was fired.
Bannon, who can’t seem to find a conspiracy theory he doesn’t embrace, has blamed the entire incident on Obama (of course he did, because in Bannon’s world, EVERYTHING is Obama’s fault). Putting forward a different explanation for his ouster, he also implied that Susan Rice, his target du jour, was instrumental in the effort to “operationalize the NSC” and asserts that his purpose was to reverse that trend. According to Bannon, it’s mission accomplished, stating, “I was put on to ensure that it was de-operationalized. General McMaster has returned the NSC to its proper function.”
Sounds all neat and cozy, doesn’t it?
Except that’s not really what happened. According to reports in Salon and Huffington Post, Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and his wife, Ivanka Trump, had more than a little to do with Bannon’s demotion. Although there have been no statements from General McMaster, a career military man who enjoys respect from those on both sides of the aisle, it isn’t too far a stretch to imagine that he may have exerted some pressure. McMaster has made it clear that he does not want the NSC to be politicized and is taking the lead in determining the flow of national security information in the White House.
The floundering Trump presidency is trying desperately to find traction, and it seems his most trusted advisors are his family members, who are not at all enthralled by Steve Bannon. In fact, there is increasing bad blood between Bannon and Kushner, with Bannon recently saying that Kushner is “trying to shiv him and push him out the door.”
In the end, it’s pretty much a given that Jared and Ivanka will hold more sway with Trump than Bannon. They’re family after all.