White House chief of staff Reince Priebus arranged a recent meeting to soothe tensions between White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon and senior adviser Jared Kushner, according to a new report.We learned this as Axios was reporting that Priebus's job is not at risk, unlike Steve Bannon's:
The meeting took place at President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Fla., last week amid reports of tension between administration officials, CBS News said Saturday.
... “Reince had the two sit down with him to clear the air and agree on the agenda and ending the back and forth,” a White House official told CBS News.
... Bannon got crosswise with Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump....I realize that a lot of you think Reince Priebus is a hapless incompetent. He may be bad at his job, but I think he has low cunning and good survival skills. During the transition, I began to think that he was quietly taking over the joint -- I wrote a number of posts pointing out that he was placing more of his allies in administration jobs than Steve Bannon was. For that reason, I said that Steve Bannon could be gone by summer -- a prediction I was embarrassed to have made once it began to seem as if Bannon was the de facto president. I'm not so embarrassed now.
In their view, Bannon is too inclined to want to burn things down and blow things up....
A senior official said Chief of Staff Reince Priebus is "with the program" of a more inclusive style, and will stay. Insiders have been feverishly discussing possible replacements and Trump considered a change, but the official said: "Reince is staying."
Priebus quietly looks out for himself -- when Bannon was on the ascent, Priebus took great pains to convey the impression that he and Bannon were BFFs. Now, with Bannon and Kushner, he's the teacher's pet trying to bring peace to the West Wing. Whatever he needs to do to survive I guess he'll do.
During the campaign, Priebus (mildly) chided Trump for the language on the Access Hollywood tape and (privately) expressed exasperation with Trump, while Trump publicly attacked Priebus -- but Priebus was also deferential to Trump in ways that angered Trump's primary opponents, as Politico reported in July:
In early September , when Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus began asking presidential candidates to sign a loyalty pledge, groans could be heard throughout Jeb Bush’s headquarters. His senior staff in Miami saw it as a gimmicky, ultimately hollow ploy by Priebus to prevent the 17th candidate in the field, Donald Trump, from mounting an independent run.Priebus is still shining Trump's shoes -- and if he really does stay while Bannon goes, that tells me he's good at determine which boots to polish and when.
Less than a week later, Trump appeared on national television in the lobby of his Manhattan office tower and signed the pledge with a Sharpie. Priebus had already come and gone, having entered Trump Tower through the back door and scurried out the same way; but news of his trip to see Trump left Bush’s high command incensed. Here was the chairman who commissioned the post-2012 GOP autopsy, the man who concluded the party must improve its standing with Hispanic voters, rewarding the candidate who indicted Mexicans as “rapists” as he launched his campaign and—just one day before Priebus came calling at Trump Tower—ridiculed Bush for speaking Spanish.
“We were absolutely furious,” one former Bush staffer recalled. “[Trump] is openly chiding us for communicating a conservative message in Spanish and they get on a train and go up to New York to give him a press conference and a pat on the back for joining the party. It was a total affront to us—because [the RNC] was no longer calling balls and strikes, they were actually helping him.”
... Throughout the primary, Priebus defined his role as that of an umpire. But over time, he came to give the bulk of his attention to the most divisive candidate in the field, and the other campaigns noticed. “Every time Trump would do something dumb, Reince would be up in New York shining his shoes,” said a campaign staffer who worked for John Kasich, the Ohio governor who never interacted with Priebus “beyond a couple polite handshakes” before the debates.
... And meanwhile, Bannon has Breitbart censoring all criticism of Kushner, in a desperate attempt to save his job. He doesn't look like much of a tough guy now, does he?