It’s being reported by the left-leaning, DC-based website, Axios.com, that President Donald J. Trump believes his chief strategist, Steve Bannon, is the man behind leaks from the West Wing.
Citing unnamed sources in the West Wing, Axios reported Saturday that senior-level staff in the White House believe Bannon is behind the leaks targeting Trump’s national security adviser, Gen. H.R. McMaster.
According to Axios, “Key West Wing colleagues believe Bannon is an instigator of leaks targeting National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster. The stories have been driven by Breitbart News, where Bannon was executive chairman before joining Trump’s presidential campaign as chief executive in August.”
President Trump backed McMaster at a press conference on Thursday, calling him “our friend.”
Axios claims that Trump is “fed up” and “irritated” with Bannon for a number of reasons, including “self-promotion” within West Wing ranks. The president is also reportedly displeased that as the former chairman of Breitbart News, Bannon did nothing while the media outlet ran a series of articles targeting McMaster. .
Axios further speculated that Trump’s new chief of staff, Gen. John Kelly, will likely be called on to do the “dirty work” and fire Bannon, noting, “In just the two weeks that Kelly has been in the White House, Bannon has seen his influence dwindle.”
Bannon has denied being behind the Breitbart stories, and says there is no evidence to suggest that he is behind them.
This is not the first time that news outlets like Axios have printed unfounded allegations. In fact, the news outlet sees Bannon’s alleged reluctance to stop the stories as proof in and of itself, “given Bannon’s history of intervening with Breitbart to influence stories in a positive fashion for the Trump administration.”
According to Axios:
“But the source wondered why Bannon hasn’t raised a finger to stop the hit pieces against McMaster that have run on Breitbart, a publication he used to run. The source pointed out that when the media began reporting, early in the administration, that Bannon was warring with Reince, the two went to extraordinary lengths to prove their friendship, and Bannon went to extraordinary lengths to shut down the narrative.”
Leaks have plagued the Trump administration from day one, and Chief of Staff John Kelly has vowed to crack down on any staffer who is caught leaking, no matter how high they rank or how close they are to President Donald J. Trump.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions has similarly made public vows to crackdown on government leaks. He said recently that the Department of Justice is reviewing their policy on issuing subpoenas to news outlets that publish sensitive information. He also announced that the DOJ will be committing more resources to cracking down on the leaks.
Axios (stylized as AXIOS) is an American news and information website founded in 2016 by Politico co-founder Jim VandeHei, Politico’s former Chief White House correspondent Mike Allen, and former Politico Chief Revenue Officer Roy Schwartz. The site’s name, based on the Greek word for “worthy”, officially launched in 2017.
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