Amid this morning’s turmoil at the White House over the resignation of Michael Flynn as National Security Advisor, a… shall we say… curious report emerged from the swamps of one Brietbart dot com. Written by the site’s politics editor Matthew Boyle (a favorite of Donald Trump’s), the story states that Chief of Staff Reince Priebus’ future in the White House is “in doubt.” Writes Boyle:
Specifically, multiple sources close to President Trump with internal knowledge of White House operations told Breitbart News on Monday night that the buck stops with Priebus when it comes to the botched rollout of the executive order temporarily banning most travel to the United States from seven nations with a history of exporting terrorism and temporarily halting the refugee program. This news comes of course in the wake of the news that Flynn was pushed out, but also as more and more reports of a likely shake-up at the top loom.
He also quotes an anonymous source, who says…:
“Reince is responsible, ultimately, for the rollout of the immigration executive order,” one source said. “He failed to get [Attorney General Jeff] Sessions on the calendar in the Senate in time for what he knew would be a highly controversial executive order. He was supposed to be this wizard in dealing with congressional Republicans, but has not been successful in getting anything serious done.”
So–Breitbart dot com is propagating the theory that ultimately “the buck stops” not with President Trump, but with Reince Priebus, specifically on the issue of the administration’s executive order on immigration, which has now been struck down by several courts. That executive order was reportedly authored by two people: chief strategist Steve Bannon, and his prodigy Stephen Miller, despite Miller’s protestations to the contrary. Bannon, of course, was employed by Breitbart up until the very second he went to work for the Trump campaign.
Even someone with the level of intellect required to work for Donald Trump can connect the dots here. The careful wording of Boyle’s report gives it away: he describes not issues with the executive order, itself, on its merits, but instead its “botched rollout.” The problem was not Bannon’s legally unjustifiable order, but the way it was sold. Boyle goes onto cite two other sources regarding Priebus’ performance at work, quoting one who, in referring to the process of getting Trump’s cabinet nominees confirmed, says “Reince really has not done enough in pressuring [Senate Majority Leader Mitch] McConnell to move faster.”
Internal White House factions using the press to adjust the levers of power within a presidential administration is something that’s baked into our political system, but the Trump White House is offering a unique twist on this theme: one of those factions being so closely connected to a media outlet that it’s impossible to read reports that come from it as anything other than an open play to inflate the power of a single person within the administration. The timing of this one is especially funny given today’s report that Trump was angered by Saturday Night Live‘s portrayal of Bannon as the death merchant pulling the strings behind the White House curtain.
Reince Priebus, who to this point has been too milquetoast to require an SNL impersonation, should maybe start a website of his own before its too late.