The White House: An internal power struggle
There’s only one word to describe the first couple of weeks in President Trump’s White House, said Sabrina Siddiqui and Ben Jacobs in The Guardian.com: “chaos.” As factions fight for Trump’s favor, the president’s “botched” executive order on travel and immigration created a legal and public relations nightmare—the result of Trump’s top aides deliberately excluding government agencies and lawyers from the drafting process. “A stream of leaks” flows from the White House every day, as senior aides Steve Bannon, Reince Priebus, and Jared Kushner jealously compete for influence over Trump, said Josh Dawsey in Politico.com. “People are just knifing each other,” one Trump staffer said.
Two major strands of Trumpism are “vying for control,” said Ryan Lizza in NewYorker.com. On one side is chief strategist Bannon, the aggressive nationalist and former chairman of “alt-right” website Breitbart, who was behind the travel ban. On the other side is Priebus, Trump’s chief of staff, a Republican Party loyalist who oversaw the “successful rollout” of the president’s Supreme Court pick, Neil Gorsuch. Bannon and Priebus are complete political opposites, engaged in “a zero-sum fight for control of the West Wing.” Meanwhile, Trump spends hours every day reading newspapers and watching TV to see how he’s being covered, said Maggie Haberman and Glenn Thrush in The New York Times. Aides say the president is “furious” over the “endless parade of bad headlines,” and embarrassed that he didn’t realize he signed an order giving Bannon a seat on the National Security Council. He’s told the staff that all policy matters must now go through Priebus first. The president seems to have learned an important lesson: “When it comes to governing, speed does not always guarantee success.”
Trump’s Republican allies hope the president learns another lesson, said Gloria Borger in CNN.com. They want him to listen his most experienced and knowledgeable advisers: Defense Secretary James Mattis, Homeland Security Chief John Kelly, and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. On Tillerson’s first day at State, the White House surprisingly announced that new Israeli settlements “may not be helpful” in achieving peace. U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley then delivered “a stern warning” to Russia on its aggression in Ukraine. These were mainstream, sensible policies. “Now all the White House has to do is figure out who is actually speaking for the president.”