Turmoil in White House: Steve Bannon the latest victim of Donald Trump's chaotic management style

On Wednesday, US President Donald Trump removed chief strategist Steve Bannon from the US National Security Council.

Steven Bannon. AP

Steve Bannon. AP

Bannon, one of the president's closest aides, is a controversial figure: the former editor of the right-wing conspiracy theory website Breitbart News (which also acts as a platform for white nationalism), has described himself as a "Leninist" who wants to "destroy the administrative state."

Bannon is the latest victim of the president's famed chaotic management style. Trump reportedly enjoys playing his advisers and confidants against one another and letting them fight it out for his time and his ear.

Further complicating things is an open door policy at the White House which allows even low-level staffers such as former Apprentice winner Omarosa Manigault to gain access to him.

Bannon's elevation to the National Security Council (NSC) in January, which came in conjunction with the demotion of the director of National intelligence and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was seen as a radical move, which drew criticism even from members of his own party.

The New York Times reported that Bannon's departure from the NSC comes as a result of a power play by Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner and daughter Ivanka Trump, and at the insistence of National Security Adviser Lt Gen HR McMaster.

Bannon is said to have increasingly lost the confidence Trump confidants, including Kushner and Ivanka, after the public implosion of the president's healthcare bill and the immigration ban being repeatedly struck down by the courts.

But the final push came at the urging of McMaster, who insisted that the Situation Room, where decisions of life and death were made, was no place for a political adviser, The New York Times reported.

Trump's transition chaos

The first casualty of Trump's management came during the transition: Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie was ousted as transition chief in November and replaced by vice president-elect Mike Pence, a move that threw the Trump team into a state of disarray and left world leaders trying to reach the President-elect by blindly dialling Trump Tower.

The axing was the result of behind the scenes maneuvering by Kushner, who reportedly had a frostly relationship with Christie. As a former US attorney in New Jersey, Christie had been involved in the prosecution of Kushner's father, which resulted in a jail sentence, The Washington Postreported.

Two other members of the transition team with strong ties to Christie—Representative Mike Rogers of Michigan and Matthew Freedman, a lobbyist who consults with corporations and foreign governments—were also pushed out.

'They view jobs as lollipops, things you give out to good boys and girls'

The Atlantic reported that Eliot Cohen, a top official in George W Bush’s State Department and a professor at Johns Hopkins University, warned fellow Republicans to steer clear of serving in the Trump administration right off the bat.

Cohen, who initially asked careerists to serve under Trump before the transition, changed his mind after an incident that occurred with a close friend and Trump aide: When asked to recommendation individuals for the National Security team, Cohen responded by saying that the best and brightest would only enlist if there were credible people leading national security agencies and departments. In response, he received an angry email from his friend, accusing him of trying to insinuate himself with the winners and the President-elect.

 

"It became clear to me that they view jobs as lollipops, things you give out to good boys and girls,” Cohen told The Washington Post.

The Trump presidency: A series of firings

On 31 January, acting attorney general Sally Yates, a holdover from the Obama administration, was fired after refusing to defend Trump's travel ban. The White House accused her of "betraying" the new administration. Recently, Yates was reportedly blocked her from testifying to Congress about any information she might have of Trump aides dealing with Russia by the White House.

The highest-profile sacking came early into the Trump presidency: In February, National Security Adviser Michael Flynn was relieved of his position in 24 days—record time—the average serving tenure of an NSA is 2.6 years.

Fynn was reportedly maintaining illegal contact with Russian Ambassador Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the transition period and reportedly lied to vice president Mike Pence about it.

Flynn has reportedly agreed to provide testimony to officials investigating alleged ties between Russia and Donald Trump's presidential campaign, in exchange for immunity from prosecution, The Wall Street Journal reported.

In March, Attorney General Jeff Sessions abruptly demanded the resignations 46 US attorneys, including New York federal prosecutor Preet Bharara, appointed by former president Barack Obama. Interestingly, Bharara met with President-elect Donald Trump during the transition and was assured that he would be asked to stay on.

Bharara tweeted:

 


With his presidency fast-approaching its 100th day, Trump is facing strong headwinds: His healthcare bill is dead, his travel bans have been repeatedly struck down by the courts and his approval rating is down to 35 percent. Not to mention Russia cloud hanging over his White House.

According to presidential historian Douglas Brinkley, Trump has led "the most failed first 100 days of any president".  “To be as low as he is in the polls, in the 30s, while the FBI director is on television saying they launched an investigation into your ties with Russia, I don’t know how it can get much worse,” Brinkley, a best-selling biographer of presidents Gerald Ford, Franklin Roosevelt, and Theodore Roosevelt, told The Washington Post.

Former first lady Michelle Obama once said: "Being president doesn't change who you are. It reveals who you are."

The first few months of Donald Trump's presidency have been extremely revealing.

 


Published Date: Apr 06, 2017 04:29 pm | Updated Date: Apr 06, 2017 04:29 pm