Trump orders son-in-law Kushner and fiery top adviser Bannon work out differences amid White House infighting
Annoyed that palace intrigue stories dominated the headlines in the last week, US President Donald Trump ordered two of his top advisers, Jared Kushner and Stephen Bannon, to work out their differences.
The two met Friday afternoon after Chinese President Xi Jinping left Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club in Florida, in a nearly one-hour meeting arranged by White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus.
According to one official, the meeting ended amicably, with both men agreeing to work together to advance Trump’s agenda.
Kushner and Bannon had increasingly clashed in recent weeks over the policy direction of the White House, including issues such as trade, taxes and immigration. Kushner, the president’s son-in-law, is considered principal among a group of White House aides with more moderate political leanings.
Allies of Bannon’s inside and outside the White House derisively refer to Kushner, National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn and deputy national security adviser Dina Powell and others as the “liberal Democrat” wing of Trump’s White House.
Kushner and other aides worried that Bannon’s fixation on “deconstructing” government had not served Trump well in the first months of his presidency.
As the drama spilled out into the open and onto newspaper front pages, Trump - a devotee of hard-copy newspapers - was irritated to find the dispute dominating the news cycle while his order authorising a missile strike in Syria and three meetings with world leaders faded into the background, according to one senior official.
“His view is, ‘I don’t like seeing this stuff boil over into the news,’ ” an official said.
The week ended with rumours of a potential shake-up in the White House’s senior ranks, which the White House vehemently denied. Trump reorganised his National Security Council Wednesday, removing Bannon from the principals committee on the same day the president was considering options for a missile strike against Syria.
Bannon, the former executive chairman of Breitbart News, is among Trump’s most trusted yet most controversial advisers. He’s channelled the populist and nationalist sentiment that propelled Trump’s campaign, and his placement on the National Security Council committee in January was criticised by some members of the US Congress and Washington’s foreign policy establishment, who said it risked politicising the security advice provided to the president.
While he’s aligned with other White House aides, including Trump’s senior policy adviser Stephen Miller, Bannon has been criticised for the troubled roll-out of the president’s executive order on immigration and the failed attempt in March to pass health care legislation.
Meanwhile, Kushner’s star has been on the rise. The husband of Trump’s older daughter, Ivanka, recently returned from visiting US troops in Iraq and was named to run an initiative to streamline the federal government. He’s also played a key role in Trump’s foreign policy, including the US relationship with China. In an administration where proximity often equates to power, Kushner was one of the US officials sitting closest to Trump on Thursday as the president dined with Xi.
Earlier in Trump’s administration, news coverage focused on possible tension between Bannon and Priebus, the former chairman of the Republican National Committee. The two appeared together on stage at the Conservative Political Action Conference in February in a public display of solidarity.
Additional reporting by Bloomberg