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Morning Briefing: Stephen Bannon Goes to War Against the White House

By Dustin Rowles | Politics | August 21, 2017 |

By Dustin Rowles | Politics | August 21, 2017 |

— A U.S. Destroyer, the U.S.S. John McCain, collided with an oil tanker last night off the coast of Singapore. Search and rescue teams are still searching for 10 missing Navy sailors. John McCain was quick to respond on Twitter.

Hillary Clinton weighed in respectfully.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump responded to the incident as Donald Trump does: “That’s too bad.”

— Mar-a-Lago has now lost 10 charity events, thanks to Donald Trump’s response to Charlottesville. This is going to get under the man’s skin as much as anything.

USA Today is reporting that the Secret Service is out of money because of the expense of protecting the President at his many properties and his many family members. As many as 1000 Secret Service agents have hit their federally mandated caps for salary and overtime for the year. It’s August.

— Trump will address the nation during primetime tonight to announce his plans for Afghanistan. Reportedly, it will involve a troop surge, and the plan has been met favorably by General Mattis and the intelligence community, which basically means that Trump has sold out the nationalist wing of his base (the Bannon people) and listened to the sane people.

— Speaking of the “sane people,” Axios is reporting that the reason there hasn’t been mass defections inside the White House is partially because staffers believe that, without them, Trump would put the country in danger. They say they stop him from acting on his worst impulses, and without his aides, we’d be in a trade war with China, there’s be massive deportations, and we’d have a government shutdown to force the building of The Wall. Also, they say, they are staying to protect James Mattis, who needs all the allies he can get. (They also add that they love the power.)

— For what the polls are worth, they’re showing that Trump’s support has dropped considerably in three crucial swing states — Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan — where his approval ratings match the rest of the nation: 34-36 percent.

— Reminder: Trump heads to Phoenix tomorrow for a campaign-style rally, where he may also pardon Joe Arpaio. Police are bracing for a Charlottesville-type response, with Trump supporters and counter-protestors potentially clashing in Arizona.

— It could get ugly this week, as Breitbart steps up its attacks on the “globalists” within the Administration, like H.R. McMaster and Jared Kushner. Breitbart, however, has been bleeding advertisers since the election and its traffic is down considerably. With Bannon back in charge, it could see a surge in popularity, or Breitbart could continue to lose relevancy because it no longer has anyone in the White House. Bannon will definitely go after the White House; it’s still uncertain whether anyone will pay attention to him.

That said, the far right does pay attention, and Bannon could turn the right against Trump on Russia and force his impeachment, so says Vanity Fair:

At Breitbart, Bannon has a brigade of similarly happy warriors. “We’re in a loud bar celebrating the return of our captain!” Breitbart’s Washington editor Matt Boyle told me on Friday night. Breitbart’s defense of Trump has so far helped keep the Russia scandal from gaining traction on the right. But that could swiftly change if Trump, under the influence of Kushner and Cohn, deviates too far from the positions he ran on. If that happens, said one high-level Breitbart staffer, “We’re prepared to help Paul Ryan rally votes for impeachment.”

Pauvre Trump. He’s going to be getting it from “many sides” for the rest of his hopefully short Presidency. And wouldn’t it be ironic if Bannon forced a man he called a “limped dick motherfucker” to turn on his former boss?

Header from Mr. Mercedes, which I am loving through two episodes.

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Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.