The relationship between Steve Bannon, chief White House strategist and Jared Kushner, Donald Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, continues to deteriorate as both battle to guide the president, The New York Times reports.
At one point this week, the conversation between the two men crumbled to the point of breakdown, according to the Times.
Quoting an unnamed source, the Times related these tense remarks from Bannon to Kushner: "Here's the reason there's no middle ground - You're a Democrat."
The Times described Bannon as an "edgy, nationalist bomb-thrower" and Kushner "the polished, boyish-look scion of New Jersey and New York real estate."
Bannon and those close to him want to take on both parties in the nation's capital, while Kushner and his allies are looking to broaden Trump's narrow popular appeal, the Times reported.
It noted Kushner's responsibilities appear to be growing, while Bannon's have shrunk, having been removed from his National Security Council post earlier in the week.
Bannon has become so frustrated amid the White House infighting that a top Republican donor, Rebekah Mercer, reportedly had to convince him to stay in his position.
The Times said Trump has grown weary of the Mercers' influence over outside political groups that support his policies.
But the White House insisted Bannon had not taken any steps to leave. Bannon told Politico that any suggestion he threatened to resign was "total nonsense."
Complicating the situation is Trump himself.
The Times noted Trump plays advisers off one another, while encouraging a free-for-all competition for influence and ideas. And the president has given conflicting impressions of whose advice he prefers.
"This president's method of managing is by him personally curating points of views from a diverse group of people in whom he has some trust and credibility," Thomas Barrack Jr., a longtime friend of Trump's, told the Times. "And he very rarely accepts one course of action or one suggestion without laundering it amongst all of them. And what happens in that process is confusion amongst those from whom he's seeking advice."
But Bannon's supporters are warning that Trump's political agenda is in danger.
"This isn't about palace intrigue," Laura Ingraham, the conservative radio host, told the Times. "This is about a full-scale assault against the Trump agenda from within. If the president allows this to continue and drifts away from his key pledges, he risks losing his core constituency and any hope of a second term."
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