Is @realDonaldTrump going to end every news conference with "you're fired" in the next 4 years?— Willa Frej (@willafrej) January 11, 2017
Did anyone else forget that what we are watching unfold in Washington is a presidency, not a special edition season of The Apprentice? All of the drama surrounding the individual characters close to the president feels like a bad reality show you just can’t stop watching.
Trump even had a big “You’re Fired” moment just ten days into his presidency when former attorney general and Obama holdover, Sally Yates, released a statement challenging the Trump’s executive order on immigration.
But the drama hasn’t ended with the installation of Trump’s staff choices. Not only do multiple advisors have ties with Russia under scrutiny, but it seems as though Trump’s advisors are competing with each other for the president’s ear at all times.
Thus far, Michael T. Flynn, short-lived national security advisor, and Andrew Puzder, nominee for labor security, are the first casualties of the administration. Flynn resigned due to concerns over his connections with Russia. Two days after the resignation, Puzder withdrew his nomination because of criticisms surrounding his employment of an undocumented immigrant as his housekeeper and the resurfacing of his ex-wife’s abuse accusations.
So who is next on the chopping block? It’s hard to say, but here is an outline of some of Trump’s key advisors and their proximity to the danger zone.
First up is Kellyanne Conway, of “alternative facts” infamy. Conway was Trump’s campaign manager and is currently a counselor to the president. She seemed like a White House go-to at first, but after endorsing the Ivanka Trump clothing line on “Fox & Friends,” she has come under fire and has since met twice with White House ethics lawyers. The usually vocal Conway was also kept off of the air for about a week after this comment – as well as others that the White House deemed as “off message.” However, Conway seems to be slowly re-emerging. She has been a mainstay of the Trump team and has held on through her tribulations so far.
As the president’s son-in-law, it seems impossible that Jared Kushner’s advisorial role could ever be in danger. However, the White House recently revealed that Kushner was also present with Flynn during a meeting at Trump Tower with Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador. This does not look good for a White House that has been attempting to downplay any possible connections to the Russians. Again, Kushner is family and not the most vocal aide, but this information doesn’t look good for him.
Sessions is the newly confirmed Attorney General. His situation is similar to Kushner’s: He confirmed this week that he also met with Kislyak twice during the campaign, even though during his confirmation hearing he firmly denied having any communications with the Russians. Sessions said that his memory failed him during the hearing, but he has now recused himself from Department of Justice investigations into the 2016 campaign. This choice reportedly infuriated Trump, and the move wasn’t enough to satisfy Democrats calling for his resignation to back off either. Although Sessions does not have the familial tie that cushions Kushner and many around the nation are calling for his resignation, the White House will surely be looking to avoid another cabinet member-level scandal such as Flynn’s.
Reince Priebus and Stephen Bannon
As former Republican National Committee chairman, Reince Priebus is one of the few establishment representatives to be found in the Trump administration’s inner circle. As chief of staff, it seems as though Priebus would be able to moderate discussions between top advisors and the president. But Trump’s leadership structure has given counselors easy access to the president, placing Priebus on the same level as the rest of his advisors. Not only does this create competition between individuals, but between competing ideologies. This is where Stephen Bannon comes in. Formerly of Breitbart News, Bannon is now chief strategist to the president. Unlike Priebus, he is a Washington outsider with a white nationalist ideology. It remains to be seen how the dynamic between these competing ideologies manifested by these two advisors will play out, but it is possible that it has contributed to the sense that the White House is lacking in cohesion.