Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump vied for influence but knew the president “was often most influenced by the last person he spoke to”
Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump vied for influence but knew the president “was often most influenced by the last person he spoke to”Carlos Barria/Reuters
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By October Steve Bannon, the White House chief strategist, was telling people that he thought there was a 33.3 per cent chance that the Mueller investigation [into Russian collusion] would lead to the impeachment of the president, a 33.3 per cent chance that Trump would resign, perhaps in the wake of a threat by the cabinet to act on the 25th Amendment [by which the cabinet can remove the president in the event of his incapacitation], and a 33.3 per cent chance that he would limp to the end of his term. In any event, there would certainly not be a second term, or even an attempt at one.
“He’s not going to make it,” said Bannon at the Breitbart Embassy [his news site’s office]. “He’s lost his stuff.”
Steve Bannon was said to be planning a presidential run in 2020
Steve Bannon was said to be planning a presidential run in 2020Evan Vucci/AP
Less volubly, Bannon was telling people something else: he, Steve Bannon, was going to run for president in 2020. The locution, “If I were president . . .” was turning into, “When I am president . . .”
The top Trump donors from 2016 were in his camp, Bannon claimed: Sheldon Adelson, the Mercers, Bernie Marcus and Peter Thiel. In short order, and as though he had been preparing for this move for some time, Bannon had left the White House and quickly thrown together a rump campaign organisation. The heretofore behind-the-scenes Bannon was methodically meeting with every conservative leader in the country — doing his best, as he put it, to “kiss the ass and pay homage to all the grey-beards”. And he was keynoting a list of must-attend conservative events.
“Why is Steve speaking? I didn’t know he spoke,” the president remarked with puzzlement and rising worry to aides.