The knives are out for Steve Bannon — as they should be – Updated by Andrew Prokop Apr 6, 2017


The White House chief strategist is responsible for many of the Trump administration’s biggest failures.

The initial spin on White House chief strategist Steve Bannon’s removal from the National Security Council was that nothing was amiss. He had only been there in the first place to keep an eye on the now-fired Michael Flynn, senior officials told reporters. Or maybe it was to “de-operationalize” the NSC, whatever that means. Either way, he’s not mad about the demotion; he’s happy about it!

A set of counter-leaks soon indicated that the exact opposite was true. Both the New York Times and Politico reported that Bannon was so annoyed about this move that he threatened to quit. (A wealthy and influential donor helped convince him not to, per Politico’s Eliana Johnson, Ken Vogel, and Josh Dawsey.)

More significantly, the demotion appears to be a sign of Bannon’s overall diminishing influence in the administration, since it’s being paired with leaks that the senior White House son-in-law / adviser, Jared Kushner, is unhappy with him — and that the president himself may be as well.

They have good reason to be. Though blame for the disastrous first two and a half months of Trump’s presidency should surely be widely shared — and much of it must go to the president himself— it’s difficult to think of another Trump staffer who still has his job who’s had as much of a malign, counterproductive influence on the administration as Bannon. Shockingly, it turns out that the former Breitbart News chief, a guy whose political experience is entirely based on outraging and provoking people, is not exactly great at governing.

Bannon’s biggest and most consequential blunder was, of course, the immigration and travel order aimed at people from seven predominantly Muslim countries. This was a failure on every level, and Bannon bears much of the blame for it. He and another White House aide, Stephen Miller, quickly crafted and rushed out the order with minimal input from the relevant agencies. One of its most objectionable and indefensible features — the sudden ban on entry for previously approved green card holders from targeted countries — was personally dictated by Bannon and Miller over the Department of Homeland Security’s objections, per CNN.

Even for those who sympathized with Trump’s goals, the order appeared to be handled in an incompetent and downright cruel way — travelers approved to enter the US were being suddenly detained at airports! What the order proved most effective at doing was mobilizing liberals across the country to protest in massive numbers. It was also too incompetently written to pass legal muster, and was soon frozen by the courts. Even when the administration tried for a do-over by redrafting it, it hasn’t been able to escape the consequences of that disastrous process — the revised order, too, has been blocked in court.

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