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white house drama

White House officials joke that working for Trump is like being part of Henry VIII's court

Senior members of President Trump's administration like to joke that working for Trump is a lot like being part of Henry VIII's court, and after budget director Mick Mulvaney handed out copies of A Man for All Seasons — a play about Sir Thomas More, who was convicted of treason and beheaded after refusing to swear allegiance to the king — Trump's chief strategist, Stephen Bannon, found it amusing that an associate compared him to More, The New York Times reports.

Bannon doesn't have a lot of fans in the White House, the Times reports, and he has gone up against White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, and Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner. At a recent dinner, even Fox News' Rupert Murdoch got in on the bashing, urging Trump to fire Bannon. But the president has been hesitant to cut ties, friends and aides told the Times, because he's concerned about what Bannon might do if he's no longer part of the administration. Bannon told friends he never planned on being in his position for more than a year, and he's going to try to ram his agenda through before he gets canned.

Trump reportedly worked with Bannon on his first response to the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, which was quickly denounced by Republicans and Democrats for not going far enough to condemn neo-Nazis and white supremacists; Bannon warned Trump not to be too critical of far-right activists because they are part of his base, the Times reports. Bannon, who ran Breitbart when it established itself as a "platform for the alt-right," seems willing to "tolerate something that's intolerable," Mark Salter, a longtime adviser to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), told the Times, and Salter doesn't think the White House "has a chance of functioning properly as long as there's a resident lunatic fringe."