Steve Bannon may have vacated the premises, but it appears Breitbartism is alive and well in the Trump White House.
Over the past two days, Axios—a scoopy news site whose reporters are among the best-sourced in Trumpworld—has published two inside-the-West-Wing stories that portray a president who has fully internalized Breitbart’s framing of national politics in America today.
On Sunday, Axios reported on a recent Oval Office meeting between President Trump and a gaggle of top aides—including economic adviser Gary Cohn, then-chief-strategist Steve Bannon, two trade advisers, and newly installed chief of staff John Kelly. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the administration’s plans to investigate Chinese theft of American intellectual property—but the conversation reportedly devolved into a presidential venting session.
Trump, addressing Kelly, said, "John, you haven't been in a trade discussion before, so I want to share with you my views. For the last six months, this same group of geniuses comes in here all the time and I tell them, 'Tariffs. I want tariffs.' And what do they do? They bring me IP. I can't put a tariff on IP." …
Trump made sure the meeting ended with no confusion as to what he wanted.
"John, let me tell you why they didn't bring me any tariffs," he said. "I know there are some people in the room right now that are upset. I know there are some globalists in the room right now. And they don't want them, John, they don't want the tariffs. But I'm telling you, I want tariffs."
Then, in a Monday morning story about the fate of Rex Tillerson, Axios reported that Trump is getting “more and more fed up” with his secretary of state. Why? “Rex just doesn’t get it,” Trump is quoted as saying. “He’s totally establishment in his thinking.”