Cracks in the inner circle

Cracks in the inner circle
Former White House Chief Strategist, Steve Bannon, has described the meeting that took place between Donald Trump Jr and a Russian lawyer during the 2016 Presidential..

Former White House Chief Strategist, Steve Bannon, has described the meeting that took place between Donald Trump Jr and a Russian lawyer during the 2016 Presidential campaign as “treasonous.”

After the comments became public, US President Donald Trump lashed out at his ex-aide and said that he had “lost his mind.”

Background

Stephen Bannon is currently the Executive Chairman of Breitbart News. In 2016, he joined the Trump Presidential campaign as the Chief Executive Officer. During this period, he was often cited as one of the driving forces behind Trump’s bid. After the elections, he was hired to join the Trump administration as the White House Chief Strategist. This was a position that was created specifically for him.

On August 18th, 2017, it was announced that he would leave the White House. According to Bannon, the decision to leave was mutual. However, media reports revealed that he left due to falling out of favor with the President. He then resumed his duties at Breitbart News. In the past, he along with the news outlet, have been accused of promoting bigotry and alt-right values.

On September 2017, Bannon appeared in a wide-ranging interview in a show called 60 Minutes. When asked if he considered Trump’s firing of former FBI Chief James Comey to be the biggest mistake in political history, he responded, “That probably would be too bombastic even for me, but maybe modern political history. I don't think there's any doubt that if James Comey had not been fired, we would not have a special counsel, yes. We would not have the Mueller investigation. We would not have the Mueller investigation and the breadth that clearly Mr. Mueller is going for.”

In the past Bannon has incurred criticism voicing controversial sentiments and for rallying against “globalists”. He has been openly critical of Islam and Muslims and has alleged ties to white supremacist groups. He has often found himself warring with members inside the Trump administration. Reports have emerged of his tense relations with Senior White House Advisor, Jared Kushner and National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster. Former Trump administration member, Anthony Scaramucci, has also openly criticized him.

The 2016 meeting

In June 2016, Trump Jr met with Russian lawyer Veselnitskaya and music promoter Rob Goldstone. Veselnitskaya has deep ties to Kremlin. Goldstone arranged for the meeting, noting that this was “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr Trump.” The Trump campaign was promised information that would be harmful to the Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid. Trump Jr replied that he “loved it.” The meeting was also attended by Jared Kushner, Senior Advisor at the White House and then chairman of the Trump campaign, Paul Manafort.

Analysis

Former White House Chief Strategist, Steve Bannon, has described the meeting that took place between Donald Trump Jr and a Russian lawyer during the 2016 Presidential campaign as “treasonous.” The comments were made when he was speaking to author Michael Wolff. Wolff has written a new book called Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, which is comprised of more than 200 interviews between the President, and some of his closest aides. It has been described as one of the most anticipated political books of 2018.

Wolff writes, Bannon remarked mockingly: “The three senior guys in the campaign thought it was a good idea to meet with a foreign government inside Trump Tower in the conference room on the 25th floor – with no lawyers. They didn’t have any lawyers. Even if you thought that this was not treasonous, or unpatriotic, or bad shit, and I happen to think it’s all of that, you should have called the FBI immediately.” Bannon went on to note that it is highly probable that President Trump himself must have been privy to the meeting. He said, “The chance that Don Jr did not walk these jumos up to his father’s office on the twenty-sixth floor is zero.”

The US President has lashed back at his former aide with harsh language and stated that Bannon has “lost his mind.” In a strongly worded statement through the White House, Trump noted, “Steve Bannon has nothing to do with me or my presidency. When he was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind. Steve was a staffer who worked for me after I had already won the nomination by defeating seventeen candidates, often described as the most talented field ever assembled in the Republican party. Now that he is on his own, Steve is learning that winning isn't as easy as I make it look. Steve had very little to do with our historic victory, which was delivered by the forgotten men and women of this country.”

Assessment

Our assessment is that this is one of the first times in US history that a sitting President and an ex aide have conducted such a public and explosive war of words. However, this clash was something that had been already predicted. This public fight indicates that there are cracks in the inner circle of the Trump administration. 

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