Ousted White House chief strategist Steve Bannon has said privately that he thinks the president has about a 30 percent chance of lasting his full term — because members of the Cabinet might vote to remove him.
Prior to his departure, Bannon reportedly told President Trump that the real risk to his presidency was not impeachment but the 25th Amendment, two sources with knowledge of that discussion told Vanity Fair.
The 25th Amendment allows the president to be removed by a majority vote among the Cabinet, something Trump was believed to be unaware of prior to Bannon’s warning.
His administration has been plagued by unexpectedly high turnover since practically its outset. More than two dozen staff have left their posts, most through resignations.
And some insiders are now blaming the apparently widespread low levels of job satisfaction on a president who is unable to focus on policy details and becoming increasingly despondent about the lack of progress being made by the White House and Congress.
It is unclear whether the prospect of a 25th Amendment vote might induce some disgruntled administration officials to stay, or even if the majority would actually seek to remove Trump, given the option. The amendment has generally been thought of as a theoretical construct rather than something that would be practically applied and has never before been used.
Chief of Staff John Kelly, for one, is said to be miserable in his role but sticking it out for the good of the country. However, speculation is rife within Republican circles that he might be paving the way for an exit after his deputy, Kirstjen Nielsen, was tipped to take over the Department of Homeland Security.
By ensuring that Nielsen retains a senior post in the administration, Kelly can resign with a clear conscience — or so the theory runs.
But the antipathy goes both ways.
According to two sources familiar with the incident, Trump reportedly vented his frustrations about the members of his administration to his longtime security chief, Keith Schiller.
“I hate everyone in the White House! There are a few exceptions, but I hate them!” the president raged, although another White House official has disputed this.
Schiller himself has since resigned, reportedly after being told that his meetings with the president would have to be documented for the chief of staff.
While Kelly’s attempts to instill discipline and control access are a laudable bid to stem the administration’s high turnover, it is that same tight control that has led Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) to publicly deride the White House as “adult day care.”
Rants such as the one that allegedly involved Schiller, as well as Trump’s often-provocative Twitter use, have caused some observers to question whether he finally is “unraveling” and “has lost a step.”
And if that also becomes the prevailing view within his Cabinet, then Bannon’s warning might become a very real threat.
- Report from Vanity Fair
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