Conservative firebrand Steve Bannon reportedly believes that President Donald Trump has a paltry 30 percent chance of finishing his term in the White House due to threats that the president’s Cabinet could throw him out of the Oval Office using a legal maneuver outlined by the 25th Amendment.
That’s according to a source who spoke with Vanity Fair for a recent piece conjuring notions of a White House crippled by internal turmoil caused in part by “a president who seems to be increasingly unfocused and consumed by dark moods.”
Here’s an excerpt from the piece:
According to two sources familiar with the conversation, Trump vented to his longtime security chief, Keith Schiller, “I hate everyone in the White House! There are a few exceptions, but I hate them!” (A White House official denies this.) Two senior Republican officials said Chief of Staff John Kelly is miserable in his job and is remaining out of a sense of duty to keep Trump from making some sort of disastrous decision. Today, speculation about Kelly’s future increased after Politico reported that Kelly’s deputy Kirstjen Nielsen is likely to be named Homeland Security Secretary—the theory among some Republicans is that Kelly wanted to give her a soft landing before his departure.
One former official even speculated that Kelly and Secretary of Defense James Mattis have discussed what they would do in the event Trump ordered a nuclear first strike. “Would they tackle him?” the person said. Even Trump’s most loyal backers are sowing public doubts. This morning, The Washington Post quoted longtime Trump friend Tom Barrack saying he has been “shocked” and “stunned” by Trump’s behavior.
Personal Liberty’s Jay Baker artfully analyzed the Vanity Fair piece in a column Thursday, noting that it is part of a broader establishment effort to portray the president as unhinged and a potential threat to national security.
These establishment attacks on the president aren’t surprising– but Trump’s handling of the attacks, which are beginning to look more and more like the makings of a coup in progress, should be a little puzzling to anyone who views the president as a master tactician.
Last month, I warned readers that a handful of recent changes at the White House were aimed at isolating Trump from some of the strongest allies he’d gained during his outsider ascent to the nation’s most powerful elected office. Kelly’s appointment as the president’s chief of staff was a matter of particular concern for me as I read report after report about the a retired four-star Marine general’s efforts to place the president on lockdown within the Oval Office.
From that piece:
In late July, Kelly took over from former RNC chairman Reince Preibus as President Trump’s White House chief of staff. He’s now in charge of just about everything the president sees and hears– and, by extension, he largely holds the key to what the president is going to think about any given situation.
Kelly, according to reports, has the West Wing on lock down… at least when it comes to access for the kind of “outsiders” Trump’s administration promised to empower in Washington.
People have begun to take note of the changes within the White House. It was, of course, hard to miss that things were changing when the administration abruptly cut ties with conservative strategist Steve Bannon, who was largely credited with creating the populist conservative message that got Trump elected.
Late last month, former UN Ambassador John Bolton declared that he is one of many people the president is no longer permitted to meet with as the establishment regains order in Washington.
The whole thing is worth a read because it provides plenty of background on how Trump went from victorious outsider surrounded by supporters to telling Schiller, “I hate everyone in the White House!”
Now, we have Vanity Fair’s report relaying that Bannon warned Trump of threats from within months ago:
Several months ago, according to two sources with knowledge of the conversation, former chief strategist Steve Bannon told Trump that the risk to his presidency wasn’t impeachment, but the 25th Amendment—the provision by which a majority of the Cabinet can vote to remove the president. When Bannon mentioned the 25th Amendment, Trump said, “What’s that?” According to a source, Bannon has told people he thinks Trump has only a 30 percent chance of making it the full term.
The 25th Amendment allows Congress to remove a president from office if his Cabinet declares that he’s unable to fulfill the duties of the office either because of mental or physical incapacitation.
Never Trump factions began fantasizing about removing the president on grounds that his mental state is in decline earlier in the year. And the media has spent months spinning various iterations of the “unhinged Trump” narrative.
When Bannon was relieved of his White House duties, remember, there was little explanation from the president. Some reports indicated that Trump’s ego may have gotten in the way, suggesting the president felt Bannon was taking too much credit for his successes. Other explanations centered on theories that Trump was advised or pressured to cut ties with Bannon, either to distance himself from nationalists or as an effort to soften the political establishment to his administration’s agenda.
Whatever led Trump to kick Bannon out of his inner circle, it’s now crystal clear why the establishment wanted the conservative media executive out of the way: The Breitbart CEO was likely one of very few people warning the president of what now clearly looks like a conspiracy to undo the administration from within.
The outsiders once closest to the president are now out of the White House and he’s evidently surrounded by people working to make his life a living hell. It may now only be a matter of time until they go for the president’s throat.