Updated at 6:46 p.m. ET
It’s only been a few months, but it feels like forever ago that Steve Bannon told New York Magazine that he had “bonded” with Jared Kushner, who “really gets this grassroots, populist movement in a huge way.”
Now, the two men are at odds in an escalating conflict that might seem like just the latest twist in the constant palace intrigue emanating from the White House. But this clash, which threatens Bannon’s position and could further cement Kushner’s increasingly broad influence, has importance beyond the sort of petty infighting that afflicts any administration. For Trump supporters, this is a battle between the populist nationalist movement on the right, for which Trump is a figurehead, and the more pragmatic, less ideological approach exhibited by Kushner and his allies. The result could determine whether the Trump White House stays, well, Trumpian, or whether it begins to morph into exactly what someone like Steve Bannon hates: a more mainstream Republican administration.
Bannon, who was removed from the National Security Council principals’ committee on Wednesday, has been at odds with Kushner, who has been taking on more and more responsibility in the White House across a broad range of issues. Politico reported that Bannon threatened to quit if he was removed from the NSC. The Daily Beast reported that Bannon has called Kushner a “cuck” and a “globalist” behind his back. (A source close to Bannon insisted they had never heard Bannon use the term “cuck” in any context.) Bannon has been warning of a “gunfight,” Axios reported.