Days after his ouster from the White House, the extent of the animosity between divisive strategist Steve Bannon and the president’s son-in-law Jared Kushner is steadily emerging in US media reports, with an article in Vanity Fair detailing their disputes and asserting that Bannon is now planning his “revenge.”
Bannon, a hero of the so-called “alt right” whose presence in the West Wing was controversial from the start, had become the nucleus of one of several competing power centers in a chaotic White House. During his six-month tenure as Trump’s chief strategist, Bannon and Kushner reportedly clashed on numerous policy issues, including the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
According to a report in Vanity Fair online on Monday, Bannon aggressively lobbied Trump to fulfill his campaign promise to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and pushed the president to adopt a tougher stance toward Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, moves Kushner opposed.
When Abbas met with Trump at the White House in May, Bannon boycotted the meeting in protest.
“I’m not going to breathe the same air as that terrorist,” he texted a friend at the time, according to the magazine.
Another point of contention between Bannon and Kushner was Trump’s response to the violent white supremacist rally in Charlottesville earlier this month.
With Trump under fire for insisting anti-racism protesters were equally to blame for violence at a weekend rally of neo-Nazis and white supremacists, the president faced renewed pressure to let Bannon go.
Bannon was the only West Wing staffer to publicly back Trump’s response, while Jared and Ivanka Trump disagreed with his tepid reaction to the racially charged violence.
Hours after he was fired, Bannon returned to his previous job as editor of the ultra-conservative Breitbart News, where he declared war on Ivanka, Kushner and fellow “globalist” Gary Cohn.
The Vanity Fair article was headlined: “Steve Bannon readies his revenge: The war on Jared Kushner is about to go nuclear.”
“He wants to beat their ideas into submission,” Breitbart News Editor-in-Chief Alex Marlow told Vanity Fair. “Steve has a lot of things up his sleeve.”
The following day, Breitbart’s leading story alleged Ivanka and her husband helped push Bannon out of the White House because “his far-right views clashed with their Jewish faith.”
Breitbart based the story on a Daily Mail report that cited anonymous “Washington sources.”
“Jared and Ivanka helped push him out. They were concerned about how they were being viewed by the Jewish community,” The Mail reported on Sunday.
On Monday, the White House denied the story to Breitbart, calling it “totally false.”
Bannon’s departure capped one of the most chaotic weeks for the administration, a nod to members of Trump’s government and his Republican Party who have grown increasingly frustrated with the anti-establishment firebrand.
It remains to be seen what role the serial provocateur will continue to play from outside the White House, but Bannon himself vowed to keep pushing Trump’s right-wing agenda, as he returned to Breitbart.
“If there’s any confusion out there, let me clear it up: I’m leaving the White House and going to war for Trump against his opponents — on Capitol Hill, in the media, and in corporate America,” Bannon said in an interview within hours of leaving the White House.
Trump welcomed Bannon’s return to Breitbart in a second tweet, predicting: “Steve Bannon will be a tough and smart new voice at @BreitbartNews… maybe even better than ever before. Fake News needs the competition!”
AFP contributed to this report.