Amid reports of a major staff shake-up, President Trump declined to offer his unconditional support to Steve Bannon and downplayed the political strategist’s role during the presidential campaign, the New York Post reported Tuesday.
“I like Steve, but you have to remember he was not involved in my campaign until very late,” Trump told New York Post columnist Michael Goodwin about the White House adviser. “I had already beaten all the senators and all the governors, and I didn’t know Steve. I’m my own strategist and it wasn’t like I was going to change strategies because I was facing crooked Hillary.”
“Steve is a good guy, but I told them to straighten it out or I will,” Trump said in the interview, referring to the alleged rift between Bannon and Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser.
Last weekend, the two top aides held a peace negotiation session at the behest of Trump, who has expressed irritation about anonymous sniping in the media between the two camps, officials said.
White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus — also the subject of “palace intrigue” stories — had Kushner and Bannon sit down with him to clear the air and end the back and forth, said a senior administration official.
In recent weeks, officials have said Kushner has taken on a larger role as Trump’s main troubleshooter. Earlier this month, Trump decided to remove Bannon from the National Security Council, which White House officials said was not a sign of a diminished role for the controversial chief political strategist.
A senior White House official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that Bannon only attended one meeting of the council and was originally given the post as a check on former national security adviser Michael Flynn.
In an interview with Fox News, Vice President Mike Pence said the move was not a demotion for Bannon, but instead “a natural evolution to ensure the National Security Council is organized in a way that best serves the president in resolving and making those difficult decisions.”
Contributing: David Jackson and Gregory Korte
Tags: Donald Trump, Jared Kushner, New York Post columnist Michael Goodwin, Reince Priebus, rift between Bannon and Jared Kushner, Steve Bannon, Trump decided to remove Bannon from the National Security Council, Vice President Mike Pence