Yesterday, Stephen K. Bannon was removed from the National Security Council, a position he never should have held in the first place. In the subsequent 24 hours — even as Devin Nunes recused himself from the House Intelligence Committee’s Russian probe — the drama over that ouster has continued to play out.
Here’s how that has played out, so far.
— According to Bannon’s spokesman, Bannon was only there to keep an eye on Michael Flynn, who no longer needed an eye kept on him after he resigned. Bannon also added, “Susan E. Rice operationalized the NSC during the last administration. I was put on to ensure that it was de-operationalized. General McMaster has returned the NSC to its proper function.”
No one really knows what “operationalized” means, but it was a heavily-quoted word by the right-wing media outlets in the immediate wake of Bannon’s demotion.
— Some saw it as a victory for National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster, who sought to remove political forces from the NSC, which — despite what Bannon suggests — is a loss for Bannon, because de-institutionalizing the NSC is an inherently political movie.
— Politico believes it was Jared Kushner who pushed Bannon out (this is the explanation I most strongly believe):
In recent weeks, Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, has asked searching questions — sometimes for hours — of inside and outside advisers about the White House’s performance and complained about Bannon in particular, according to people who have spoken with Kushner. Kushner, a onetime New York Democrat, and Bannon, a hard-right nationalist, have clashed as Kushner has told people that Bannon’s desire to deconstruct the government is hurting the president.
One person familiar with Kushner’s thinking says Kushner believes Bannon is more of a problem than Reince Priebus, the chief of staff.
— Several sources suggests that Bannon threatened to quit over the demotion. However, according to Politico, Republican mega-donor Rebekah Mercer talked him out of it, suggesting to Bannon that this is a “long-term play.”
"Bannon resisted the move, even threatening to quit at one point" pic.twitter.com/X8CkWOZpgx— Mara Wilson (@MaraWilson) April 6, 2017
"I love a gunfight," Steve Bannon said before falling down 3 flights of stairs while fiercely clutching the remains of a week-old party sub.— Matt Christman (@cushbomb) April 6, 2017
— On the subject of the Kushner/Bannon in-fighting and the “long game,” Axios is reporting that — according to a Bannon ally — there will be some “bad press” in Kushner’s future.” This comes on the heels of rumors — floated by Trump ally and nutjob Roger Stone — that Kushner has been leaking negative stories about Bannon to MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough.
Scarborough is not a fan.
For those asking about Steve Bannon's next play, his talents fit perfectly with running a pro-Trump super pac outside the White House.— Joe Scarborough (@JoeNBC) April 6, 2017
According to Scarborough’s “sources” (i.e., Kushner), Trump blames his low approval numbers on the chaos that Bannon has fostered in the White House. Meanwhile, Bannon apparently said, “If my talents aren’t needed here, I can take them somewhere else.” Scarborough also says that they did something worse than firing Bannon — they “put him in charge of health care,” which Scarborough sees as the beginning of his death spiral.
Meanwhile, The Daily Beast is reporting that Bannon has called Kushner a “cuck” and a “globalist” (basically, an anti-Semitic slur to someone like Bannon) to his face.
The Bannon/Kushner infighting is definitely something to keep an eye on in the next few weeks.
— Fox News White House Correspondent John Roberts says it was because Bannon was taking too much attention away from Trump: “We are also told that maybe the President was not particularly happy at the way Bannon had been grabbing the limelight … that may have played into all of this.”
— Meanwhile, Bannon has been replaced by Energy Secretary Rick Perry.
Steve Bannon replaced on the National Security Council by Rick Perry, a man who thinks Arab Spring is a Saudi deodorant.— John Fugelsang (@JohnFugelsang) April 5, 2017
Or, as TK noted, “I feel like we just replaced chancellor Palpatine with Jar-Jar.”