Trump aides Bannon and Kushner bury the hatchet

Top White House aides Steve Bannon and Jared Kushner met and agreed to "bury the hatchet" over their differences, a senior administration official said on Saturday, in a bid to stop in-fighting.
From left: Mr Jared Kushner and Mr Steve Bannon met last Friday at the request of Mr Reince Priebus, who told them that if they had any policy differences, they should air them internally. Mr Kushner and Mr Bannon had increasingly clashed in recent w
From left: Mr Jared Kushner and Mr Steve Bannon met last Friday at the request of Mr Reince Priebus, who told them that if they had any policy differences, they should air them internally. Mr Kushner and Mr Bannon had increasingly clashed in recent weeks.PHOTO: REUTERS

Duo told to focus on President's agenda

WASHINGTON • Top White House aides Steve Bannon and Jared Kushner met and agreed to "bury the hatchet" over their differences, a senior administration official has said, in a bid to stop infighting that has distracted from United States President Donald Trump's agenda.

Mr Bannon, Mr Trump's chief strategist, and Mr Kushner, an influential adviser and Mr Trump's son-in-law, met last Friday at the request of White House chief of staff Reince Priebus, who told them that if they had any policy differences, they should air them internally, the official said.

The development at the President's Mar-a-Lago retreat in Palm Beach, Florida, came at the end of what has been a relatively smooth week for Mr Trump.

Mr Trump ordered air strikes against Syrian targets that drew praise from many parts of the world and staged an error-free summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping, complete with his wife, Melania, wearing a red dress to symbolise the main colour of the Chinese flag.

Mr Priebus' message to Mr Bannon and Mr Kushner was to "stop with the palace intrigue" and focus on the President's agenda, the official told Reuters. Media outlets had published a rash of news stories last week exposing the civil war within Mr Trump's inner circle.

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Mr Kushner and Mr Bannon had increasingly clashed in recent weeks over the policy direction of the White House, including issues such as trade, taxes and immigration.

Mr Kushner is considered principal among a group of White House aides with more moderate political leanings. Allies of Mr Bannon inside and outside the White House derisively refer to Mr Kushner, National Economic Council director Gary Cohn and deputy national security adviser Dina Powell and others as the "liberal Democrat" wing of Mr Trump's White House.

Mr Kushner and other aides worried that Mr Bannon's fixation on "deconstructing" government had not served Mr Trump well in the first months of his presidency.

Both aides left having agreed that it was time to "bury the hatchet and move forward", said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Four former advisers to the President said Mr Trump is accustomed to chaos in his decades-long career as a real estate developer but that even he has grown weary of the infighting. "He's got a long fuse for that kind of thing," said one of them. "I imagine he has gotten tired of this."

The White House dismissed persistent talk that Mr Trump might be on the verge of a staff shake-up. "The only thing we are shaking up is the way Washington operates as we push the President's aggressive agenda forward," spokesman Lindsay Walters said.

The Trump White House has been a hotbed of palace intrigue since he took office on Jan 20. But the drama has intensified after the failed effort to get healthcare legislation approved by the House of Representatives and the rocky roll-out of an executive order attempting to temporarily ban citizens of six Muslim-majority nations from entering the US.

REUTERS, BLOOMBERG, WASHINGTON POST

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 10, 2017, with the headline 'Trump aides Bannon and Kushner bury the hatchet'. Print Edition | Subscribe