During the George W. Bush administration, there was a lot of speculation that his Vice President, Dick Cheney, was pulling most of the strings, especially where it concerned foreign policy. It’s probably true, too, that Cheney had an outsized influence in Bush’s decisions.
Bannon isn’t influencing Donald Trump’s decisions where it concerns foreign policy. He’s making them.
Earlier reporting suggested that Stephen Bannon elevated himself into the National Security Council as a way to minimize the influence of General Flynn, who Trump finds grating (Flynn’s Islamophobic Twitter account, by the way, was deleted today, only days after his son’s Islamophobic Twitter account was deleted). Pushing out the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff also allowed Bannon to make political decisions without seeking the the opinion of the highest-ranking and senior most military officer in the United States Armed Forces.
So, now we have a former executive of Breitbart and a white nationalist calling the shots when it comes to foreign diplomacy. Meanwhile, he’s completely cutting other voices out of the process: General Mattis, the Secretary of Defense, was not consulted. We found out today that neither was Rex Tillerson, the probable Secretary of State. The Homeland Security Secretary, John Kelly, was not consulted or even briefed on it until it was signed. The Office of Management and Budget was told not to put it through the normal channels, including the DOJ.
Meanwhile, after the all the senior State Department officials left last week, there’s no one left to provide a check.
The few State Department employees who are left wrote a paper criticizing the Muslim ban, and Sean Spicer told them to either get on board or get another job.
Meanwhile, Foreign Policy is reporting that an intelligence official inside the White House — speaking anonymously — has stated that Bannon has essentially cut everyone else out. “He is running a cabal, almost like a shadow NSC,” the official said. The intelligence official also said that Bannon is insisting that no paper trail be left behind regarding the thought process behind the executive orders.
The NSC staff is mostly in shock after last week, the intelligence official said. For now, no one knows what each day will bring. There is no organizational chart yet for the NSC, meaning there has been no internal guidance yet about which portfolios still exist and to whom they report, the official said.
He has centralized all the power within himself, and he’s using it in an attempt to keep brown people out of this country. And it’s not just that he’s not consulting other national security advisors — he’s keeping Republicans out of the loop, as well. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) is pissed because he was not briefed; Rubio was told that the State Department was specifically told not to talk to him or other members of congress about the ban. Not a single Congressional leader of either party was consulted on the EO.
Here’s a GOP Congressional aide to the Washington Post:
“This is emblematic of a new, power-hungry White House staff flexing its muscles without consulting the public servants responsible for implementing their fiats. If this type of behavior continues, then this administration is going to lose all of its friends very quickly,” said one Senate GOP aide.
In other words, we have a racist, Islamophobic, misogynist who once called for a holy war, who was never elected, and who was not subject to confirmation hearings, who is calling all the shots where it concerns foreign diplomacy. This man — who is on record as saying he wants to destroy the government from the inside — is essentially our Commander in Chief right now.
If there was ever a time to panic, it is now. On the top of any resistance agenda right now should be the removal of Steve Bannon from the White House and a refusal to confirm Jeff Sessions as Attorney General, who is a spiritual mentor to Bannon, as Bannon wrote in an email:
“In America and Europe, working people are reasserting their right to control their own destinies,” Bannon wrote. “Jeff Sessions has been at the forefront of this movement for years, developing populist nation-state policies that are supported by the vast and overwhelming majority of Americans, but are poorly understood by cosmopolitan elites in the media that live in a handful of our larger cities.”
“Throughout the campaign, Sessions has been the fiercest, most dedicated, and most loyal promoter in Congress of Trump’s agenda, and has played a critical role as the clearinghouse for policy and philosophy to undergird the implementation of that agenda. What we are witnessing now is the birth of a new political order, and the more frantic a handful of media elites become, the more powerful that new political order becomes itself.”
This guy is evil incarnate, and he’s running the country right now.