One source close to the White House told me that Bannon could be “reassigned,” though it’s “TBD” and “There is an attempt to repair the disagreements.” A senior White House official told me talk of a reassignment was “total nonsense.”
“We are focused on dealing with the problems keeping Americans up at night, not the overblown palace intrigue stories the media is obsessed with,” said deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
“It sort of odd because from the inside we’re not feeling that,” said the first senior White House official of the drama surrounding Bannon. “Steve’s around, he does his job. It’s not different.”
This official pointed out that the White House is aware of the potential for backlash if Bannon is removed, and said “the gossip is that he’s not going to leave.”
“Steve definitely has the pulse of a very significant part of the president’s base, and has had the confidence of the president in terms of communicating with that constituency,” the official said. “Certainly the political folks would be concerned about that issue.”
Another source close to the White House argued that this concern is overblown.
“I think some people at the White House including the president might be overly concerned about this, I really don’t think that’s a problem for them,” the source said. “Steve and Breitbart do not have much pull with conservative media, their influence overstated. They could turn against Trump and he won’t like it for sure, I’m not sure it will matter.”
After running a flurry of anti-Kushner stories, Breitbart has cooled down in recent days. Business Insider reported that Breitbart writers had been ordered by editors to stop attacking Kushner.
But the site’s history with Bannon, who shaped it into the aggressive pro-Trump organ it became over the course of the 2016 election, leaves a lingering threat in the air. Could it be weaponized if he leaves?
“It’ll be open warfare against those that Bannon has dubbed the West Wing Democrats and the people who were behind his fall from grace, from Trump’s good graces,” said Kurt Bardella, a former spokesman for the site. “And I suspect that the ideological and policy direction that Trump takes will come under significant scrutiny from Breitbart and the Laura Ingrahams and Mark Levins of the world.”
“I think that they’ll wait until something definitive happens with Steve’s position until they unleash their dogs of war,” Bardella said.
One friend of Bannon’s argued that Breitbart has actually been caught flat-footed by the twisting allegiances inside the White House, and was unprepared for what became the real threat to Bannon’s position.
“You had some of them fighting with Sean Spicer and Reince Priebus when in reality the real opponents are Gary Cohn, Dina Powell and Jared Kushner, they were the real opposition,” the friend said. “They have been amassing troops at the border ever since November 8.”