By Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.
The Trump White House has been reshuffling, ousting, and replacing its staff since even before Donald Trump took office. And while its most recent purge saw the removal of semi-newish faces like former chief of staff Reince Priebus and press secretary Sean Spicer, even the old faithful may not be immune.
According to a Sunday report by Axios, Trump thinks that Steve Bannon, a senior adviser and key campaign architect, might be the source behind recent leaks targeting National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster. The stories have been pushed especially hard by Breitbart, the alt-right web outlet for which Bannon served as executive chairman before joining Trump’s campaign. Sources told Axios’s Jonathan Swan that it’s odd that Bannon hasn’t done anything to stop the McMaster hit pieces, since he once ran the site, and noted that when the media reported that Bannon was engaged in a quiet turf war with Priebus, the two went to great lengths to prove their friendship.
Thus far, Bannon has been on the winning side of such internal debates like the president’s withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement and getting aggressive with China. But he and McMaster have completely opposing worldviews, and newly appointed Chief of Staff John Kelly was reportedly horrified at the conservative media campaign against McMaster.
While speaking with Chuck Todd on NBC’s Meet the Press, McMaster couldn’t answer, definitively, whether he and Bannon can work alongside each other in the White House.
When Todd asked, point-blank, about his working relationship with Bannon, McMater answered, “I am ready to work with anybody who will help advance the president’s agenda, and advance the security, prosperity of the American people.” When Todd asked if he thought Bannon does that, McMaster again went for the diplomatically vague approach.
“I believe that everyone who works in the White House, who has the privilege, the great privilege every day of serving their nation, should be motivated by that goal.”