Donald Trump’s executive orders — especially his immigration ban on refugees from seven Muslim-majority countries — have dominated the past two weeks of news and have already affected hundreds of thousands of people. Would you be surprised to learn that the president may not be reading all of these orders before he signs them? That’s what a behind-the-scenes account from the New York Times more than implies, and this has reportedly caused great embarrassment within the White House.
The report details how Trump has been “frustrated” with all of the backlash on his travel ban. Yet he’s possibly even more upset about the executive order that names former Breitbart CEO Steve Bannon (who was already acting as chief strategist) to a permanent position on the National Security Council. That order has infuriated many and caused folks to wonder who’s really in charge in Washington, D.C., maybe for more reasons than one.
Trump allegedly was not briefed on this order before signing — an oversight that has sent White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus scrambling to create a new “conventional” protocol before executive orders are deployed:
Mr. Priebus has created a 10-point checklist for the release of any new initiatives that includes signoff from the communications department and the White House staff secretary, Robert Porter, according to several aides familiar with the process.
Mr. Priebus bristles at the perception that he occupies a diminished perch in the West Wing pecking order compared with previous chiefs. But for the moment, Mr. Bannon remains the president’s dominant adviser, despite Mr. Trump’s anger that he was not fully briefed on details of the executive order he signed giving his chief strategist a seat on the National Security Council, a greater source of frustration to the president than the fallout from the travel ban.
There’s much more to the story that kicks off with the notion that Trump’s aides meet in darkened rooms (possibly because they cannot figure out the switches). The report paints a furious Trump, who will now “be looped in on the drafting of executive orders much earlier in the process.” Another aspect deals with some new procedures to curb Bannon’s power, along with that of the immigration ban’s architect, Stephen Miller:
Another change will be a new set of checks on the previously unfettered power enjoyed by Mr. Bannon and the White House policy director, Stephen Miller, who oversees the implementation of the orders and who received the brunt of the internal and public criticism for the rollout of the travel ban.
Mr. Priebus has told Mr. Trump and Mr. Bannon that the administration needs to rethink its policy and communications operation in the wake of embarrassing revelations that key details of the orders were withheld from agencies, White House staff and Republican congressional leaders like Speaker Paul D. Ryan.
Oh, and Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner also gets a shout out in the piece. A recent Vanity Fair report suggested that Kushner was completely miffed (and losing weight?) because he’d been pushed aside, despite being named as a senior advisor. However, the NY Times claims that Kushner’s been otherwise occupied “at events around town” with Ivanka, so it seems like he’s fine.
Yet who has “rushed into the vacuum” left by Kushner, according to this report? Bannon, who is reportedly saying that he and Miller only “have a brief window” to accomplish “their vision of Mr. Trump’s economic nationalism.” Maybe Priebus is about to shut that window down, and you can read more in the full piece.
(Via New York Times)