Bannon In Jeopardy: Trump Suspects Key Advisor Is Source Of Leaks
As special counsel Mueller’s probe into Trump’s “Russian collusion” allegations expands to include virtually all financial affairs of the president, Trump’s own “witch hunt” for the source of White House leaks – so far unsuccessful – is likewise growing, and just weeks after Trump removed one of his two original advisors when he sacked Reince Priebus, overnight Axios’ Jonathan Swan reports that Trump has told associates that “he believes Steve Bannon is behind damaging leaks about White House colleagues” putting the chief strategist’s job in fresh jeopardy.
On Friday we reported that “first it was Preibus, then Kushner and now General H.R. McMaster: Breitbart has seemingly waged war on many of President Trump’s closest advisors over the past several months but it seems that the only person they’re actually hurting is their former Executive Chair, Steve Bannon. As Politico notes this morning, whether true or not, every time Breitbart drops a negative article on the White House, all eyes turn to Bannon.” And now it’s the president that is paying attention.
As Axios adds late on Saturday, unnamed sources in the West Wing “believe Bannon is an instigator of leaks targeting National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster“, even though Bannon has told associates he has nothing to do with the campaign against McMaster, which is “a spontaneous effort by the base.”
The stories have been driven by Breitbart, where Bannon was executive chairman before joining Trump’s presidential campaign as chief executive in August. On Thursday, Trump backed McMaster as “our friend.” Additionally, sources close to Trump say he was irritated about Bannon’s extensive cooperation with a book by Bloomberg Businessweek’s Josh Green, “Devil’s Bargain,” with a cover that gave Bannon equal billing with Trump. The rise in tensions between the president and his top ideological advisor follows a New York Post interview in April when Trump refused to back Bannon, and declared himself “my own strategist.” After that, Bannon lowered his profile, then temporarily redeemed himself as he helped organize the White House response to Robert Mueller.
Fast forward to today when Trump has reportedly told associates “he’s fed up with what he sees as self-promotion by Bannon, who did not join the core team this week at the president’s golf club in Bedminster, N.J.” The recent arrival of Trump’s new chief of staff, Gen. John Kelly has only added to the alienation: