Are Priebus and Bannon on the Way Out?

If I were truly cynical, I’d wonder why the Syrian strike wasn’t put off a few days so that Trump could at least bask in the glow of conservative praise for successfully placing Neil Gorsuch on the Supreme Court. I’d say that they stepped on their one true victory since Trump became president. After all, the Syrian air base wasn’t going anywhere. Why not bomb it on Sunday?

But, all anyone is focused on is Syria, and to a lesser degree what it means for the Game of Thrones in the White House:

President Trump is considering a broad shakeup of his White House that could include the replacement of White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and the departure of chief strategist Steve Bannon, aides and advisers tell us.

A top aide to Trump said he’s contemplating major changes, but that the situation is very fluid and the timing uncertain: “Things are happening, but it’s very unclear the president’s willing to pull that trigger.”

Apparently, Bannon was opposed to striking Syria:

And so the boyish [Jared] Kushner and slovenly Bannon feed friendly media negative items about each other, they clash over attempts to work with Democrats on issues such as infrastructure, and they diverge on whether to intervene in Syria, which Kushner favored and Bannon opposed. It became clear last night who won that argument.

I don’t want to get into the game of predicting how Trump will handle his staff. I honestly have no insight into who’s up and who’s down or how he makes decisions about personnel matters. I can see that Bannon lost his position on the National Security Council and didn’t get his way on the Syria issue, and I don’t doubt that these things might be related to each other. I can see that Priebus is taking heat for the failure to pass an Obamacare repeal and replace bill. But whether Trump will replace one or both of them, I can’t say.

We do have a short list of replacements, however, courtesy of Mike Allen:

Insiders tell me that the possibilities for chief of staff include:

  • House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who developed a bond with Trump as one of the earlier congressional leaders to support him, and remains a confidant.
  • Wayne Berman of Blackstone Group, a Washington heavy-hitter who was an Assistant Secretary of Commerce under President George H.W. Bush, and a key adviser on eight presidential campaigns.
  • David Urban of the Washington advisory firm American Continental Group, and a former chief of staff to the late Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.). Urban helped Trump win an upset victory in Pennsylvania, and was in constant cellphone contact with the candidate throughout the campaign.
  • Gary Cohn, Trump’s economic adviser and the former #2 at Goldman Sachs, who has built a formidable team and internal clout.

I’d like to know who leaked that list.

Martin Longman

Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly and the main blogger at Booman Tribune.