The TAKE with Rick Klein
Steve Bannon can lose his job. He can, as President Donald Trump asserts he already has, lose his mind. He can surely lose his pull as a recruiter of candidates. But Trump can’t lose Bannon. And Bannon can’t lose Trump.
Trumpism and Bannonism are already linked inextricably, by virtue of Trump’s election to the presidency, and some of the high and low points of his first year in office.
The president forges alliances that are often temporary, but they shape his direction in permanent ways. (As for leaving the Trump orbit – how long before president dials up Bannon again, just to chat?)
The president would have every right to be upset about the insinuations about his son-in-law’s lack of political acumen, or the suggestion that his son committed “treason” in meeting with Russians. Trump may have been most bothered by the depiction of him, in Michael Wolff’s new book, as less than bright.
One big legacy Bannon leaves the president after this public break? He is helping legitimize an investigation that the White House, the congressional Republican hierarchy, and conservative media outlets – Bannon’s Breitbart included – have been doing their best to tear down.
The RUNDOWN with MaryAlice Parks
It was not news that the president likes McDonald’s fast food or that various top strategists aggressively fought for power and influence in the early days of the administration.
We knew top Trump campaign staffers were surprised by the 2016 election results and the transition was frenetic and haphazard at times.
Still, the personal anecdotes and intimate details offered in Michael Wolff’s new book paint a damning, pejorative portrait of this president and his team. They color in an unflattering outline that in many ways already existed from numerous rumors and other stories over the past year.
Maybe that’s why the White House felt the need to engage so swiftly and resolutely. Accusations of an utterly dysfunctional West Wing, chaos that was easily taken advantage of, the family’s political naiveté, and a neurotic commander in chief (or, worse, an unintelligent one) were just too much to handle. Especially considering this time they seemed to be coming from insider sources like Steve Bannon, Roger Ailes and former White House staff, who are much harder to dismiss.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders called it “tabloid fiction.”
It is not hard to imagine that the president and his family are sensitive about these portrayals, especially since they keep coming up.
The TIP with John Parkinson
Did President Donald Trump really not know who former Speaker of the House John Boehner was when Fox News executive Roger Ailes suggested he make him his White House chief of staff? The conversation, described in a new book on the Trump campaign and beginning of the presidency, has led many to question the president’s awareness — but is it true?
A spokesperson for Boehner, R-Ohio, finds it unlikely — calling it instead an “odd anecdote” or a “joke of some sort,” adding “if in fact it happened at all.”
“As you recall, Speaker Boehner and President Trump are anything but strangers, and in fact know each other well,” the spokesperson told ABC News.
“As the Speaker has mentioned on any one of a number of occasions, they became friends and (to use Boehner’s term) ‘texting buddies’ during Boehner’s speakership, following a number of rounds of golf together,” the spokesperson said in a message.
The spokesperson described those occasions in which Boehner and the president spoke or spent time together — including a luncheon following the inauguration and again when Trump was considering a veto on a government funding bill, which Boehner suggested he sign and which the president eventually did.
While Boehner did make a stir last year with some candid remarks about the first months of the Trump presidency, which he later moved to clarify, the former Speaker of the House voted for the president and has been consistent in his praise of Trump’s economic decisions.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“Even if you thought that this was not treasonous, or unpatriotic, or bad [expletive], and I happen to think it’s all of that, you should have called the FBI immediately,” Steve Bannon is quoted as saying of the legal implications of the June 2016 meeting according to author Michael Wolff. His upcoming book chronicles the administration from Election Day to this past October.
NEED TO READ
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