TrumpWatch, Day 234: Bannon Declares War on GOP Leadership

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“The Republican establishment is trying to nullify the 2016 election.


Developments on Day 234 of the Trump Administration:

Bannon Declares War on GOP Leadership, White House, Immigrants, China….

Donald Trump’s dismissed chief strategist Steve Bannon declares war on the Republican leadership and his former colleagues in the White House, launching the campaign on multiple fronts.

Less than a month after he was pushed out, following the ascent of White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, Bannon is planning primary challenges against Republican senators facing re-election in 2018. He has been holding private meetings with insurgent challengers and coordinating with conservative mega-donor and Big Data specialist Robert Mercer.

See also Bannon’s Back at Breitbart, and It’s #WAR v. White House

Targets include Arizona’s Jeff Flake, who has been vocal in his criticism of Trump — the President denounced him in a Phoenix rally last month, “Nobody knows who the hell he is” — and Nevada’s Dean Heller, one of the first GOP legislators to question the effort to repeal ObamaCare.

Last Thursday Bannon conferred for 30 minutes with attorney Danny Tarkanian, who is challenging Heller, at the Washington base of Breitbart, the attack site led by the former chief strategist.

Bannon has also proposed a challenge to Tennessee’s Bob Corker, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and his staff are thinking of a move against Mississippi’s Roger Wicker.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is warning about the damage to the GOP of Bannon’s effort, repeatedly expressing concern to the White House that the Republican’s 52-48 majority in the upper chamber could be threatened.

“The issue is: Do you invest your time and energy in attacking people who are carrying this president’s water in Congress to the benefit of people who are trying to impeach him? That seems like an incredibly short-sighted strategy,” said Josh Holmes, a former McConnell chief of staff.

Bannon’s Prime-Time Show

Bannon used a Sunday interview with the prime-time program 60 Minutes to declare his war: “The Republican establishment is trying to nullify the 2016 election. That’s a brutal fact we have to face.”

He said of McConnell and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan: “They do not want Donald Trump’s populist, economic nationalist agenda to be implemented. It’s very obvious. It’s obvious as– it’s obvious as the– it’s obvious as night follows day [this] is what they’re trying to do.”

Bannon depicted McConnell as a defender of “The Swamp” — the former White House advisor’s label for anyone opposing his views — but struggled when he had to define this with relation to any policy, such as the failed effort for a GOP healthcare bill.

Instead, he refused to take responsibility for the inability to get a single major bill adopted during his seven-month tenure as chief strategist — “You’re holding [Trump] to an unfair standard” — said all of the almost 800,000 “Dreamer” young undocumented immigrants should be deported, attacked the leadership of the Catholic Church, and defended Trump’s comments after the white supremacist violence in Charlottesville, Virginia in mid-August.

He then took his fight to the White House, aiming at National Economic Council director Gary Cohn — a figure despised by Breitbart as a “globalist” — although he was careful to avoid naming Chief of Staff Kelly and National Security H.R. McMaster, another Breitbart foe. Instead, Bannon set up the two camps in the forthcoming battle around Trump:

There has been a divide in this administration from the beginning. It’s quite obvious. There’s one group of people that on the campaign, that said, “All you have to do is do what you said you were gonna do in these major areas. Let’s punch out one thing after the other. You’re gonna keep your coalition together, and we’re gonna add to it over time as you’re successful.” There’s another group that has said, “Let’s compromise, and let’s try to reach out to Democrats, and let’s try to work on things that we can do together.”

Firing of Comey: Biggest Mistake in “Modern Political History”

In a portion of the conversation available only on-line, Bannon said Donald Trump’s dismissal of FBI Director James Comey in May — trying to limit the Trump-Russia investigation — was the biggest mistake in “modern political history”.

Bannon said Trump’s step opened the way for the appointment of Comey’s predecessor at the FBI, Robert Mueller, as Special Counsel: “We would not have the Mueller investigation and the breadth that clearly Mr. Mueller is going for.”

Bannon said he opposed the firing of Mueller, but would not say if — as reported — there had been discussions in the Trump White House of carrying out the further dismissal.


Trump’s Lawyer Hires A Lawyer Over Trump-Russia Investigation

White House counsel Don McGahn has hired an attorney for the Trump-Russia investigation, amid reports that he is one of six high-level former and current Trump aide whom Special Counsel Robert Mueller wants to question.

McGahn has hired William Burck, as has former White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus.

Reports last week also indicated Mueller wants to summon former White House Press Secretary and current Trump confidante and strategic communicators director Hope Hicks. The Special Counsel is said to be looking into possible obstruction of justice, including by Trump, over the attempt to halt the investigation of former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn and the drafting of a false statement in early July by Donald Trump Jr., about his meeting in June 2016 with three Kremlin-linked envoys.

See TrumpWatch, Day 232: Mueller to Interview 6 White House Aides in Russia Inquiry


Month After Trump’s “National Emergency”, White House Has Done Nothing About Opioid Issue

A month after Donald Trump announced a ““national emergency” over opioid use, the White House has done nothing.

A commission led by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey urged swift action after an estimate of more than 59,000 drug deaths in 2016, the highest on record.

Trump said on August 10:

The opioid crisis is an emergency. And I’m saying officially right now, it is an emergency. It’s a national emergency. We’re going to spend a lot of time, a lot of effort and a lot of money on the opioid crisis.

A White House official said the administration is still reviewing options and putting the report through an expedited legal process.

An administration official said a recommendation to free up money for allocation by the Federal Emergency Management Agency is unlikely to be adopted because of efforts to deal with Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

Beyond White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, it is not clear if any administration official is pressing Trump to act.
Chief of Staff John Kelly, who took up his post in late July, is said to be interesting in a swift resolution but is still getting up to speed on the issue. The director of the Office of Management and Budget, Mick Mulvaney, is reportedly concerned about the potential cost.

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