On a day in which a national crisis is playing out in Virginia, political maneuvering tends to be seen as secondary, and remains below the radar. But even as most of today’s headlines rightfully focus on the disturbing events in Charlottesville, it’s worth noting that Donald Trump is suddenly waging political war against one of his own top White House advisers in a manner which will almost certainly result in his departure: Steve Bannon.
The first warning shot came yesterday when longtime Trump lapdog Roger Stone posted a tweet which viciously compared Steve Bannon to a “homeless bum.” Trump tends to call up old friends like Stone in the evenings so he can vent about how much he dislikes the presidency. Stone then tends to echo Trump’s grievances in his own words. So this was a fairly clear sign that Trump has been privately whining about Bannon of late. But now Trump is taking his attacks on Bannon public.
This evening, Donald Trump had his mouthpieces leak to Axios that he suspects Steve Bannon of being a leaker (link). Well no kidding. Bannon has long leaked information to the media that was damaging about his White House adversaries such as Reince Priebus. Trump never seemed to mind it, particularly as those leaks often helped further Trump’s own staff agenda. But now Trump is suddenly condemning Bannon for doing what he knows Bannon has always done.
And that’s generally a sign that a boss is looking for an excuse to ditch an employee whom he no longer finds useful, or whom he wants to strategically scapegoat. Steve Bannon has always been what he is, and Donald Trump has always known that. But for whatever reason, Trump now wants Bannon gone. And because he’s a coward who tries to avoid firing people directly, Trump is instead declaring war on Bannon in the media, in the hope it might prompt Bannon’s resignation. If Bannon doesn’t quit soon, Trump will have General John Kelly fire him. One way or the other, Bannon is – finally – about to be a goner.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report