Bannon thinks he created Trump, and Trump thinks he created Bannon. They had a fundamental disagreement about who was using whom, and in any such conflict, the president of the United States is going to win.
.. The Trump statement on Bannon is — of course — exaggerated and overly harsh. It nonetheless nails important things about the former White House official. He was an inveterate leaker and poisonous infighter. Some of Bannon’s energy was devoted to trying to destroy Trump’s notably noncorrupt and nonkooky national security adviser, H.R. McMaster. Most of it, though, was directed at Trump’s children and son-in-law.
.. Bannon also is a flagrant self-promoter. By any reasonable standard, it’s quite a comedown to go from working a few paces from the Oval Office to running a shoddy website devoid of true journalistic interest.
.. his fundraising just got much harder. Part of Bannon’s appeal to candidates was bringing the imprimatur of Trump, and that, too, has been dented.
.. At the beginning of 2016, it seemed that Steve Bannon could be a figure like Karl Rove or David Axelrod, a political strategist with outsize influence over policy who existed at the very top of our national politics for years. Instead, he’s been kicked to the curb more brutally than any presidential aide in modern history.
.. This, obviously, has much to do with Trump himself, who is volatile, jealous of media attention, and insistent that loyalty runs only one way, up to him.
.. He had no idea how to effect his dream of a protectionist, isolationist administration spending massively on infrastructure and raising taxes on the rich. His vision lacked support within the administration and in Washington more broadly.
.. Trump’s base is Trump’s. No one ever voted for Steve Bannon, and now he is on the wrong side of the president in whose name he has presumed to speak.
The Meaning of Bannon vs. Trump
Two quick thoughts on the Steve Bannon-President Trump feud:
One, it’s a sign of the apparent seriousness of the Russia investigation for Trump’s family and inner circle. The insults got the attention, but the more significant part of Bannon’s remarks may be the “logical, cold-eyed recognition” that prosecutors are building a powerful case, notes Errol Louis at CNN.
.. Two, the feud is a reminder that Bannon has failed to accomplish his biggest ambition: Expanding the Republican coalition to include many more middle-class and working-class voters. “Steve Bannon had a chance to be a genuinely significant figure in American politics and he blew it,” my colleague Ross Douthat wrote on Twitter.
.. In his interview with The Times last week, President Trump spoke admiringly of obviously autocratic tactics, such as using law enforcement as a raw exercise of power. “The president,” as Jonathan Chait points out, “explained his belief that the Department of Justice on principle ought to cover up crimes by the president and his administration.” Trump clearly believes that he deserves to be above the rule of law.
.. The first and most important line of defense, they say, is Trump’s own party. In other countries, would-be authoritarians have often been stopped (or further empowered) by their own party.
..Most Republican leaders seem to know that Trump is grossly unfit for office,
.. Yet “few Republicans have been willing to state publicly what most of them surely know: the Emperor has no clothes. Fear and opportunism have prevailed over the defense of our country and its democratic institutions.”
.. Try to build broader coalitions in defense of democracy. To ensure democracy’s survival, we must build alliances that extend beyond traditional party lines. For liberals, this means forging perhaps uncomfortable alliances — with right-of-center businesspeople, evangelical Christians, and dissident conservatives, among others. A blue-state coalition is simply not enough.
Trump was right to hope he’d lose
As Wolff tells the story, after the election he proposed to Trump that he be allowed to write a fly-on-the-wall account of the administration’s early days. Trump “seemed to say” that would be okay, so Wolff began a routine of coming to the White House, installing himself on one of the couches in the West Wing lobby and latching on to senior staff members as they walked by.
No competent White House communications shop would have given such access to any journalist, let alone one known in New York media circles as a shark among sharks. Day after day, Wolff feasted.
.. When the president calms down, someone should point out to him that the legal threat unwittingly gives credence to Bannon’s version of events.
.. “There was, in the space of little more than an hour, in Steve Bannon’s not unamused observation, a befuddled Trump morphing into a disbelieving Trump and then into a horrified Trump. But still to come was the final transformation: Suddenly Donald Trump became a man who believed that he deserved to be, and was wholly capable of being, the president of the United States.”
Trump Lawyer Demands Bannon ‘Cease and Desist’
Former strategist calls 2016 meeting with Russian ‘treasonous’; president says Bannon ‘lost his mind’
Mr. Trump has had public fallouts with various people, including lawmakers, in the past, some of which he has later patched up. A permanent rift between the president and Mr. Bannon could have political implications leading up to November’s midterm elections and into 2020. A battle for the president’s political base could divide the conservative movement, especially if Mr. Trump begins to align himself more with the GOP establishment
.. Donald Trump Jr. tweeted Wednesday: “Steve had the honor of working in the White House & serving the country. Unfortunately, he squandered that privilege & turned that opportunity into a nightmare of backstabbing, harassing, leaking, lying & undermining the President.”
.. In the book, Mr. Bannon sharply criticized Mr. Kushner and former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, for taking part in the Russia meeting along with Donald Trump Jr.
“Even if you thought that this was not treasonous, or unpatriotic…and I happen to think it’s all of that, you should have called the FBI immediately,” Mr. Bannon is quoted in the book as saying.
.. Further, Mr. Bannon predicted that the investigation by Mr. Mueller will focus on money laundering.
“This is all about money laundering,” Mr. Bannon told Mr. Wolff. The path to “Trump goes right through Paul Manafort, Don Jr. and Jared Kushner,” he said. “It’s as plain as a hair on your face.”