The escalating White House power struggle between chief strategist Steve Bannon and National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster is sowing deep divisions in the Trump administration — with no end in sight.
Speculation that Bannon was on his way out heated up following former Army Gen. McMaster’s recent ouster of three National Security Council members with reported ties to the former Breitbart News chief, and a “purge list” purportedly suggesting he wasn’t finished.
But previous predictions of Bannon’s political demise proved unfounded when he clashed with presidential son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner earlier this year.
If the conflict with McMaster continues, one source with ties to Trump said, the president’s loyalists expect “it’s Bannon that wins and not McMaster.”
Trump, however, publicly backed McMaster on Thursday when asked during a news conference at his Bedminster, NJ, country club if he still had confidence in the three-star Army general.
“Yes, I do. General McMaster? He’s our friend. He’s my friend and he’s a very talented man. I like him and I respect him,” Trump said amid an intense media campaign by Bannon supporters to fire McMaster.
The warring factions include:
Bannon loyalists include former Breitbart reporter Julia Hahn, a White House special assistant who has been described as his protégée and “right-hand woman.”
Another former Breitbart staffer who wound up in the White House is national security editor turned presidential deputy assistant Sebastian Gorka.
He reportedly kept his job only when Trump and Bannon “personally intervened” in May, after Gorka was denied National Security Council clearance over a gun bust at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.
Foremost among McMaster’s supporters is retired Marine Gen. John Kelly, whom Trump recently moved from homeland security secretary to White House chief of staff.
“Kelly has tried to make it clear that he supports McMaster,” said one source familiar with Trump’s thinking.
Multiple sources said Dina Powell, deputy national security adviser for strategy, also sided with McMaster.
Kushner — whose wife, Ivanka Trump, is an official assistant to her dad— likes McMaster, one source said.
On the fence
Senior policy adviser Stephen Miller has previously been linked to Bannon, with whom he co-wrote Trump’s inaugural address.
But Miller — who is widely reported to be in line to replace…