President Donald Trump may soon have to decide between his chief strategist, former Breitbart executive Steve Bannon, and his national security adviser, H. R. McMaster.
One tactic being floated by members of the far right, like blogger Mike Cernovich, is to accuse McMaster of having a drinking problem, according to a report by Axios. Because Trump is well known to abstain from drinking, the hope was that the president would lose faith in his adviser. Another claim, this one coming from the right-wing Zionist Organization of America, accused McMaster of being anti-Israel.
The tactic may wind up backfiring, however. Axios also reports that most White House officials do not believe the attacks against him and believe they have been orchestrated by Bannon, who has launched surreptitious campaigns against other Trump advisers like Jared Kushner ,who he perceived as being insufficiently right-wing on key issues. Bannon is also supported by the ZOA, which raises questions about whether he has played a role in shaping its attack on McMaster.
The perception that Bannon is trying to undermine McMaster has hurt his standing with Trump's chief of staff John Kelly, according to a report by CNN. It even caused McMaster to avoid mentioning Bannon by name during a Sunday interview with NBC's Chuck Todd.
When asked if he and Bannon work together, McMaster simply replied: "I get to work together with a broad range of talented people. It's a privilege every day to enable the national security team." On other occasions, McMaster said that he was "ready to work with anybody who will help advance the president's agenda and advance the security, prosperity of the American people," adding, "I believe that everyone in the White House . . . should be motivated by that goal."
The infighting could not come at a worse time for the Trump White House. Republicans are already predicting a tough month in September, during which Trump plans to ram through his legislative agenda on health care, tax reform and infrastructure, according to a report by Politico. The administration also faces burgeoning crises with North Korea and Syria, making it even less ideal for members of its own team to be backstabbing each other.