Speed Reads

Trump White House

President Trump ominously distances himself from Stephen Bannon

Over the weekend, President Trump ordered two of his top aides, chief strategist Stephen Bannon and adviser/son-in-law Jared Kushner, to huddle together and work out their differences following an increasingly public power struggle. With Bannon's departure from the National Security Council and disregarded reported advice against bombing a Syrian regime air base, and Kushner's growing responsibilities, it would seem Kushner is winning that battle for influence. Then on Tuesday, Trump pointedly declined to say he has full confidence in Bannon.

"I like Steve, but you have to remember he was not involved in my campaign until very late," Trump told New York Post columnist Michael Goodwin. "I had already beaten all the senators and all the governors, and I didn't know Steve. I'm my own strategist and it wasn't like I was going to change strategies because I was facing crooked Hillary." Regarding the Kushner-Bannon split, Trump added, "Steve is a good guy, but I told them to straighten it out or I will."

"Ouch," said Aaron Blake at The Washington Post. "Bannon joined the campaign in August for the lion's share of the general election, taking on the role of campaign CEO. He and Kellyanne Conway, the campaign manager, were the titular heads of the campaign." Trump also, of course, hired Bannon for a powerful White House role after the campaign. Trump's comments could mean that Bannon's thin ice is cracking, or it could mean nothing much at all. But given Trump's history of distancing himself from people about to be pushed off the bus, Bannon should probably at least be thinking about his post-White House options.