Donald Trump stretched three ways: A look at the factions vying for the US president's soul

Donald Trump enters his sixth month in office with a historically low approval rating and zero legislative accomplishments. The Oval Office has been an ever-revolving door: Hirings, firings, resignations and embarrassing withdrawals.

On Friday, Sean Spicer resigned in a huff after he was caught off guard by the president hiring Anthony "the Mooch" Scaramucci, a Wall Street financier, as the new White House communications director. Spicer had coveted that role for himself and was reportedly blindsided by the president's move.

Meanwhile, the presidency is under siege. The Russia cloud that has gripped the administration refuses to disperse. Meanwhile, the pressure is mounting as Special Counsel Robert Mueller expands his investigation from the president's campaign and its alleged ties to Russia during the 2016 election into his finances.

Trump meanwhile, has been tweeting (even his supporters say that's not helpful):


Of course, this is only the public facade of the White House. It is behind the scenes, within the corridors of power, where the true battle is raging.  Between three very different wings — The Populist Wing, The New York Faction and The Establishment — the war for the soul of Donald J Trump.

 Donald Trump stretched three ways: A look at the factions vying for the US presidents soul

File image of Donald Trump. AP

The Populist Wing: Steve Bannon

Steve Bannon, who Time Magazine described as The Great Manipulator, was said to be the power behind the throne in the early days of the administration. Bannon, the former editor of the right-wing conspiracy theory website Breitbart News — which has been accused of providing a platform for white nationalists — has reportedly described himself as a Leninist who wants to tear down the administrative state.

Bannon jumped on the Trump train early, viewing the reality television star as a tool to propagate his theory of economic nationalism and anti-globalisation, which has been dubbed as "Bannonism."

His star fell when his fame seemed to eclipse the president's (the Time Magazine cover didn't help) and he reportedly had a falling out with Trump son-in-law and Secretary of Everything Jared Kushner. Bannon was removed from the US National Security Council by the president on 5 April and was thought to be on the outs with Trump. However, the jettisoning of Sean Spicer has provided an opportunity for Bannon to make a comeback.

The Populist Wing may be down, but it's far from out.

The New York Faction: Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump and Anthony Scaramucci

Bannon, dripping with disdain for his rivals, has reportedly rubbed the New York Faction as Jivanka. Jared and Ivanka, have been described as moderating influences on the president (despite mounting evidence to suggest otherwise), are the only truly indispensable and irreplaceable advisors: Because they are family.

Kushner, who seems like a nice young man, has been tasked with: Bringing peace to West Asia, solving the opioid crisis, redesigning government to make it more efficient, running the White House office of Innovation (whatever that is). His main qualification? He's married to Ivanka Trump, who is best known for being a model and designing handbags.

Anthony Scaramucci, the latest addition to the White House, is the ultimate loyalist. He has repeatedly said that he loves Donald Trump and stated that the president is his own best communicator. Scaramucci seems to be a big fan of the "Let Trump be Trump" strategy, which is surely music to the president's ears.

The New York Faction is ascendant. For now.

The Establishment: Reince Priebus and Sean Spicer

Of all three factions, it is The Establishment whose influence has waned the most. And it is, to an extent, understandable. After all, Trump ran for the presidency and won by railing against Washington insiders. And Priebus is the ultimate Washington insider.

The former chairman of the Republican National Committee has been described by senior White House officials as "a dead man walking." And with good reason.

Priebus reportedly urged Trump to turn to healthcare first instead of taxes or infrastructure and Trump holds him responsible for the current Republican healthcare mess.

According to a report in Politicospeculation is already rife where Priebus will go next — newspapers have speculated that he might be named ambassador to Greece — yet he continues to show up for work, burning the midnight oil as he tries frantically to right the sinking ship.

“The dynamics make it mission impossible for him,” Chris Whipple, author of “The Gatekeepers,” a recently published book about White House chiefs of staff told Politico.  “It’s totally unusual to have all these rumors out there about a chief of staff, but there has never been a White House this dysfunctional.”

The Establishment seems down for the count.

But nothing is forever in Trumpland. Except Jivanka. Because they're family.

Updated Date: Jul 25, 2017 14:58:13 IST

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