Thursday, December 22, 2016


Another key Trump appointment, another victory for Reince Priebus:
President-elect Donald Trump named Republican National Committee official Sean Spicer as White House press secretary....

Spicer, the RNC’s communications director since 2011 and chief strategist since 2015, has become an increasingly visible presence on Trump’s team since the GOP nominee won the election on Nov. 8. Noted for his combative television interviews, he helps to lead daily transition news media calls and has a close relationship with RNC chairman Reince Priebus, Trump’s incoming chief of staff.
I said earlier this month that Reince Priebus was eating Steve Bannon's lunch in the battle to staff the Trump administration. This is yet another win. As New York magazine's Gabriel Sherman wrote on December 8:
Trump campaign staffers are also angry that Priebus is attempting to staff the West Wing with mainstream GOP officials rather than Trump loyalists. According to sources, Priebus wants Trump to appoint RNC chief strategist Sean Spicer to serve as White House press secretary.... “If Priebus controls the schedule and the message, what does Bannon actually control?” one Bannon loyalist asked.
Trump loyalists from the campaign were also rewarded today -- Hope Hicks, Dan Scavino, and Jason Miller got jobs -- but Spicer is getting a bigger job.

But it's not just Bannon vs. Priebus. As Sherman tells us today, another Bannon antagonist, former Goldman Sachs chief operating officer Gary Cohn, who'll be the head of the National Economic Council, has become a Trump confidante:
Several sources connected to the Trump transition team describe Cohn as an influential voice inside the emerging administration. Cohn, one source said, has “walk-in” privileges that allow him to pop into Trump’s office whenever he wants. “Gary is brash; he has no trouble interrupting Trump,” the source, who has attended meetings with both men, explained. Trump has tasked Cohn with a wide array of responsibilities, including recommending candidates to head the Securities [and] Exchange Commission, developing a strategy to repeal Obamacare, and crafting plans for new infrastructure spending and tax reform, sources say.

... “Trump loves having Goldman guys around. The bank wouldn’t touch Trump, and now they’re working for him,” one Republican close to the transition told me, referring to the bank’s unwillingness to lend to Trump businesses.
As Sherman notes, Cohn is close to Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner. He's also said to be working to prevent the appointment of Larry Kudlow as chair of the Council of Economic Advisers, in the belief that Kudlow is too right-wing.

Sherman concludes:
Preventing Cohn from exerting too much influence on Trump seems to have become a goal for Bannon, says a source. “He’s a huge Democrat and knows zero about politics,” a person close to Bannon told me.
I think Trump's dumping Bannon the way he'd dump a soon-to-be ex-wife. Bannon's going to be an ex-White House staffer soon.


ploeg said...

There will be a _lot_ of attrition during the first year of the Trump Administration, just like there was during the campaign. Loyalists will have an easier time keepung their posts, and those who aren't personally loyal to Trump and his kids will be replaced by those who are. The main reason why Priebus has been able to get so many of his choices on board is because Trump and his kids don't know so much about how to form a government. (Indeed, they thought that the would get to keep the current White House staff when they first came in.) But the Trump kids are getting their say in who gets picked, and once they get their footing, the mainstream Republicans become expendable.

I remember an interview with Priebus where he noted that first WH chiefs of staff don't stick around for very long, and it seemed like he didn't expect to buck the trend.

Frank Wilhoit said...

Also, Comrade L. M. Kaganovich stood one inch further away from Comrade V. M. Molotov on the reviewing stand for this year's annual October parade in Red Square, as shown in high-resolution photographs taken by one of our agents with a camera concealed in his hat.

Trump is going to go through "people" like a burglar goes through dresser drawers. Most such hirings/firings will not affect the balance of power between the ends of Pa. Av., let alone between DC and the states. Probably best to try to focus upon those that do.

Unknown said...

Steve, thanks for the blog post. Interesting thesis. Question: don't you think Bannon is a dangerous person to dump?

OR, do you think it's possible to move Bannon out of the White House and keep the support of Breitbart? Bannon on the outside, with inside knowledge of Trump, could be as damaging as a million keen-eyed Washington Post reporters.

It seems to me that bringing Bannon in over the Summer was the major faustian bargain. Now, there's no way to get rid of him.

Steve M. said...

By thast time, Trump might be the champion of the Kochs and the mainstream pundits. He might be able to marginalize Breitbart.

Robert said...

I'm not sure you get the Trump is actually following Bannon's ideology, if you can call it one, to a T. Trump is executing Bannon's plan, and both knows it.