Speed Reads

Trump White House

The White House struggle between Stephen Bannon and H.R. McMaster is apparently coming to a head

The "bare-knuckle campaign to remove National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster from the White House is about to get much uglier," says Jonathan Swan at Axios, but it could rebound on White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon. Forces outside the White House are going to allege that McMaster has a drinking problem, on the theory that this rumor "will harm his standing with the president, who is a teetotaler," Swan reports, citing "sources outside the Trump administration familiar with the anti-McMaster campaign." Controversial anti-McMaster nationalist Mike Cernovich has already teased the campaign on Alex Jones' InfoWars.

The Bannon-led nationalist wing of the Trump White House views McMaster as a "globalist" at odds with their goals and what they see as Trump's agenda, and the campaign against McMaster started in earnest when McMaster removed several Bannon allies from the National Security Council.

This is hardly a sneak attack — "McMaster has been made aware that the attack is likely coming, and prefers to focus on his work," a White House official told Axios — and most senior White House aides are taking McMaster's side, finding the baseless attack disgusting, notably Chief of Staff John Kelly. Bannon reportedly denies that he is behind the rumors or anti-McMaster attacks, prominent on Breitbart, which Bannon used to run; on Saturday, Swan reported that Trump believes Bannon is behind damaging leaks about McMaster and other White House colleagues, and is fed up with what he views as Bannon's self-promotion.

The sources behind Swan's scoops are anonymous, but on Sunday's Meet the Press, host Chuck Todd asked McMaster three times if he could continue to work in the White House with Bannon, and three times McMaster declined to answer directly or to say Bannon was advancing Trump's agenda. You can read between the lines below. Peter Weber