President Donald Trump has already butted heads with EPA Director Scott Pruitt over cleaning up polluted former industrial sites (also known as brownfields). Now it appears that that single issue was merely a symptom of a much deeper problem — how the Trump administration is using government departments and agencies as fronts in a larger battle against what some of its members perceive as the establishment.
Within the Treasury Department, the factions have broken down into the pragmatists led by Secretary Steven Mnuchin and the idealists led by senior Trump advisers Steve Bannon and Stephen Miller, according to a report by Politico.
While the pragmatists want to take a moderate approach to issues like tax reduction, deregulating Wall Street (in large part by modifying the Dodd-Frank Act), and opposing free trade, the idealists want to strictly adhere to the ideologically populist positions that Trump took on those issues during the 2016 campaign. This has put Bannon and Miller at war with not only Mnuchin, but other powerful advisers he has on his side, including former Goldman Sachs executives Gary Cohn, who is currently Director of the National Economic Council, and Dina Power, who is deputy national security adviser. Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, the president's daughter and son-in-law respectively, are also reportedly more moderate on these issues.
The Environmental Protection Agency is similarly plagued with internal divisions, according to a report from March 16 by Environment & Energy Publishing. David Schnare, who had been part of the "beachhead" team to help settle the Trump administration's new appointees into the EPA, told E&E News by email that he was resigning because of a "set of events involving misuse of federal funds, failure to honor oaths of office, and a lack of loyalty to the president."
That news is consistent with a report by The Washington Post that Pruitt had grown to resent Trump adviser Don Benton, who had been assigned to make sure the EPA remained sufficiently loyal to him and had been disinvited from many meetings due to his perceived intrusiveness.