The New York Times reports: Stephen K. Bannon, President Trump’s grenade-lobbing pugilist of a chief strategist, has a fitting nickname for his West Wing office: “The war room.”
But more and more, war is being waged on Mr. Bannon himself. And it is unclear how much longer he can survive in his job.
His isolation inside the White House, after weeks of bitter battle with other senior aides aligned with Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law, appeared to grow even starker this week after Mr. Trump undercut Mr. Bannon in an interview and downplayed his role as the Trump campaign’s chief executive.
“I didn’t know Steve,” Mr. Trump told the New York Post columnist Michael Goodwin in an interview on Tuesday, explaining that Mr. Bannon was a latecomer to his presidential campaign. “I am my own strategist,” the president added, a pointed reference to what aides described as his growing irritation that Mr. Bannon is receiving credit for being the mastermind behind Mr. Trump’s victory.
The remarks were at least, in part, not true — Mr. Trump has known Mr. Bannon for some time, and has appeared on the radio show he used to host. But it was an unusually public rejection by a chief executive who generally keeps such criticism behind closed doors.
One person with firsthand knowledge of internal White House dynamics, who asked not to be identified given how tense the situation had become, insisted that no immediate changes were likely. But by openly criticizing Mr. Bannon, Mr. Trump has created a situation that makes it hard for the swaggering chief strategist to remain in place without appearing deeply undermined.
Allies of Mr. Trump say that he has become more impatient with the infighting — and the overwhelming attention it is receiving in the media. In a lengthy conversation with Mr. Bannon this week, the president repeated his admonition that the chief strategist and his adversaries needed to “knock off” their back-and-forth sniping.
Mr. Trump insisted as much in the Post interview, saying, “Steve is a good guy, but I told them to straighten it out or I will.” His comments in private, say people who have spoken with him, have been more pointed. [Continue reading…]