The dramatic breakup between Donald Trump and former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon has blown wide open the political direction of the Trump presidency at a particularly inopportune time.
It comes just as Trump is frantically seeking to stabilize a presidency besieged by internal chaos and to cope with his own Justice Department’s investigation into his campaign’s possible collusion with Russian agents meddling in the 2016 election.
The president already has his hands full trying to discredit that probe, and by association Special Counsel Robert Mueller, even as Trump insists he has no intention of firing him. He also has now he has turned against Bannon, his onetime guru.
The catalyst for this bizarre bombshell is a soon-to-be-released insider book on Trump and his administration by free-lance writer Michael Wolff. In it, Bannon is said to have described Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting with Russian officials at Trump Tower in 2016 as “treasonous” and “unpatriotic” — among other explosive contentions.
In reply to derogatory remarks Bannon made about Trump family members, the president contended that Bannon’s role in his campaign and first months of his administration were overblown. Of his old close adviser he tweeted, “When he was fired, he not only lost his job, he has lost his mind.” Bannon, he said, had “very little to do with our historic victory.” Trump also instructed his lawyers to send Bannon and Wolff cease-and-desist letters, citing an alleged breach of a nondisclosure agreement Bannon has supposedly signed.
It’s clear now that Bannon has become another cross for the president to bear among an accumulating list of critics in and out of his Republican Party. After being fired by Trump, Bannon returned to his old job running the alt-right Breitbart News website, which formerly was a conspicuous cheerleader for the president. But now it but has become a vehicle for Bannon’s own political ambitions, including clashes with the Republican Party establishment and national committee that he appears to be targeting for a takeover.
Beyond revealing the breakup itself, Wolff’s book provides a stinging insight into what some White House insiders thought of the president. One fired campaign aide, Sam Nunberg, is quoted as saying he was assigned to tutor Trump on the Constitution. “I got as far as the Fourth Amendment,” he said, “before … his eyes are rolling back in his head.” Bannon himself is said to have commented that Trump’s daughter Ivanka was “dumb as a brick.”
Also, a former deputy chief of staff, Katie Walsh, is quoted as saying that trying to deal with the president was “like trying to figure out what a child wants” — an observation she later denied having made.
Wolff also reports Walsh says she was obliged to respond to three different Trump power centers: Reince Priebus, the first chief of staff, Bannon and Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner.
“For Walsh,” Wolff writes, “it was a daily process of managing an impossible task: almost as soon as she received direction from one of the three men, she would be countermanded by one of another of them.”
It was no wonder the Trump White House came off from the outside as a confused madhouse, with a president constantly getting mixed messages and making decisions as an ill-informed neophyte would-be politician.
Whether all the disclosures Wolff has reported are accurate or not, taken together they constitute more tasty morsels for both the conventional news media and the social media platforms Trump himself so favors.
As a new year gets started, there are already more than enough reasons to worry about the state of the union in the era of Donald J. Trump and his merry band of confusion-spinners.
Jules Witcover’s latest book is “The American Vice Presidency: From Irrelevance to Power.” Send email to email@example.com.
Stormy Daniels Booking Strip Clubs Left and Right Since Trump Affair Revealed
Stormy Daniels, the adult film actress who’s made headlines recently for an alleged affair with President Donald Trump years ago, has been performing in Strip Clubs around the United States.
Born Stephanie Clifford, Daniels became a national topic in January after the Wall Street Journal reported the actress received a payment from Michael Cohen, Trump’s personal lawyer, in 2016 to not discuss an alleged sexual encounter with Trump. Last week, Cohen told The New York Times he had paid Daniels $130,000 of his own money, but declined to say why.
New dates added! Here is my updated/latest schedule! pic.twitter.com/cxaMB5VERr
— Stormy Daniels (@StormyDaniels) February 19, 2018
Did Trump Almost Lose The Nuclear Football?
A new report has surfaced suggesting that White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and an unnamed member of the U.S. Secret Service got into a physical altercation with Chinese security personnel over the so-called “nuclear football,” a secure communications device inside an aluminum Zero Halliburton briefcase that enables the president of the United States to order a nuclear strike from virtually any location in a time of crisis. The Secret Service has denied that anyone got “tackled” during the alleged dispute, which may have occurred during President Donald Trump’s visit to China in 2017, but has not said outright that the incident did not happen at all.
On Feb. 18, 2018, Axios, citing five anonymous individuals, first reported about the events, which happened on Nov. 9, 2017, while Trump was in Beijing as part of a larger tour of countries in Asia. As the president and his entourage made to enter the Great Hall of the People, a large government building in Beijing that serves as a meeting place for gatherings of the Chinese Communist Party and other ceremonial affairs, such as state visits, a Chinese security officer apparently attempted to block the individual carrying the football from following them for unknown reasons. That U.S. military aide is supposed to be near the president at all times.
“We’re moving in,” Kelly, a retired U.S. Marine Corps general, reportedly said after hearing what was going on from where he was in an adjoining room and hurrying over to take charge of the situation. After arriving he pointedly told the aide and other members of Trump’s team to just keep walking into the hall.
In the ensuing kerfuffle, a member of the Chinese security detail assigned to the Americans apparently grabbed Kelly, who shoved him away. According to Axios, a nearby Secret Service agent then tackled the Chinese officer, likely in response to what they interpreted as a potential threat to a senior U.S. official.
Axios reported that the aide assigned to carry the football never lost control of the signature black briefcase during the scuffle and that clearer heads prevailed and calmed things down quickly. The unnamed individuals told the outlet that the Chinese apologized for the incident and both sides agreed not to make a public issue out of it, as well.
Trump Proposes Budget Cuts to School Safety and Security Funding
Even after this last school shooting, Trump can’t do anything right. The Trump administration’s budget unveiled earlier this week contains millions of dollars worth of CUTS to programs designed to keep schools safe and combat mental illness.
As Politico pointed out, the fiscal year 2019 budget would slash $25 million from a program that promotes school safety and a $400 million grant program that schools can use to deal with bullying and mental health issues.
The budget would also stop funding the School Emergency Response to Violence program (Project SERV), which received $1 million in federal money last year. Department of Education spokesperson Liz Hill told Politico the fund still has $5.2 million in its bank account, however, which she said would likely be enough to cover its needs through 2019.
Former Obama administration official Scott Sargrad, who worked at the Department of Education, told Politico the programs and grants proposed to be cut “are the kinds of things that can help students, staff and teachers respond and recover” after a school shooting such as the one that occurred in Florida on Wednesday.
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