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Why Bannon could have more influence on Trump from outside the White House

Bannon's Trump influence and its WH impact
Bannon's Trump influence and its WH impact


    Bannon's Trump influence and its WH impact


Bannon's Trump influence and its WH impact 04:33

Story highlights

  • Bannon calls this the "season of war," but still has Trump's ear in the Oval Office
  • Trump is getting pulled in different directions on health care and the one thing he doesn't want is to lose leverage
  • Strange golf buddies: Keep an eye on who's teeing off with Trump and what deals might happen on the green

Washington (CNN)Golf diplomacy, a key assist for Nancy Pelosi, big questions about what the White House would accept in a bipartisan health care deal and behind-the-curtain details of President Trump's relationship with former chief strategist Stephen Bannon: it's all a part of our "Inside Politics" forecast, where you get a taste of tomorrow's news today.

1) "A 'war' on GOP establishment that POTUS supports

Stephen Bannon is gone from the White House and back at Breitbart -- rallying conservatives for a "season of war" against the Republican Party establishment, especially Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
    McConnell is meeting with President Trump on Monday -- to discuss how to try to pass tax reform and salvage a legislative year that so far has fallen way short of GOP promises.
    But now add this to the agenda, or at least the mood of the meeting: Michael Bender of The Wall Street Journal reports that Trump and Bannon have spoken at least three times in recent days -- and that the President supports Bannon's "war" on the establishment.
    "If this trend continues, we'll see some fallout," Bender explains. "These two guys feed off of each other's combustible energy and that will leave (chief of staff) John Kelly to pick up the pieces."

    2) Bannon says he is a Trump ally -- but his agenda suggests conflict looms ahead

    As he wages what he likens to an "Ides of March" war on the GOP establishment, Bannon insists he is 100% supportive of Trump, and stirring this fight to take on those he blames for blocking, stalling or ignoring the President's priorities.
    In his weekend speech to the Values Voter summit, Bannon made some predictions, including that the President would handily win re-election.
    But some others raised eyebrows: Bannon predicted the administration would soon designate the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization and that it was very close to moving the US Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
    Eliana Johnson of Politico heard those predictions and quickly checked with administration sources: Not true, they said.
    It suggests, Johnson reports, that Bannon is pushing his own agenda -- at the risk of conflict with his former boss.
    "We're going to increasingly see Steve Bannon not only backing anti-establishment candidates, that's predictable, but pushing his own agenda from outside the White House. That's a policy agenda, not merely a political agenda," said Johnson. "That puts him at odds with the White House and it will be interesting to see how that dynamic plays out between him and the President and if they start butting heads."

    3) The President guts Obamacare and talks of a big deal -- but what will he support?

    President Trump is nothing if not disruptive, and his executive actions to dismantle parts of Obamacare are raising concerns there will be uncertainty in insurance markets, and perhaps premium hikes for lower-income Americans. The President says he is acting because Congress has failed to act -- and that he is open to some big partisan health care deal.
    In fact, the President on Friday repeatedly said he wanted Democrats to call him, or show up at the White House, to negotiate such a deal.
    Set aside, for now, the intellectual inconsistency of saying on the one hand he insists on repealing Obamacare and on the other that he is willing to work with Democrats on what would be fairly characterized as repairing or fixing Obamacare.
    CNN's Abby Phillip reports that it is unclear, even to members of the President's team, what he would be willing to include in any such deal.
    "The White House said he doesn't want to sign a bill that just stabilizes the market, but they won't say what he wants in exchange, and that's going to be the key question," reports Phillip. "If he agrees to sign such a bill, he might be giving up that leverage. He might be giving up what he needs in order to get Republicans and Democrats to the table. It's not clear to me that the White House is really all that interested in funding the subsidies and some of these other stabilization methods or if what they really want is to force everybody to do something before the insurance marketplace just goes off the a cliff."

    4) Nancy Pelosi gets a boost

    It caused a lot of buzz earlier this year when the chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus attended a meeting of House Democrats trying to pressure Rep. Nancy Pelosi to step down as leader.
    That effort never got anywhere, but the debate resurfaced recently because a junior member of Pelosi's leadership team -- Rep. Linda Sanchez of California -- said it was her view that Democrats needed a transition after the 2018 elections.
    The Black Caucus would have a big say in any leadership battle -- and CNN's Manu Raju shared a recent conversation with its chairman, Rep. Cedric Richmond.
    "Cedrick Richmond told me that he supports seeing Pelosi stay as leader. He thinks that they can get back to the majority with her as leader," said Raju. "The good outweighs the bad with her in terms of her liabilities and they should talk about positive things she has done when Republicans try to demonize her ...," reports Raju. "But he's concerned about a distraction within the party if there are increasing calls for her to go."

    5) Former sparring partners are now golf buddies

    Rand Paul once called Donald Trump a "delusional narcissist" and said a speck of dirt was more qualified to be President. Trump, not yet president, called Sen. Paul a "spoiled brat" and suggested he was not, shall we say, the sharpest tool in the shed.
    They golfed together Sunday, for the third time in recent months.
    On Saturday, the President's golf partners included Sen. Lindsey Graham, who repeatedly during the 2016 campaign year said Trump was not qualified, and who during the Trump presidency has been critical on issues ranging from foreign policy to the President's response to the neo-Nazi marches in Charlottesville. This, too, was not a one-sided insult war. The President has called Graham, among other things, "a nut job."
    Neither Paul nor Graham are considered giant players in the Senate, though with a narrow 52-48 GOP majority, every vote counts. And Paul, known more for derailing deals than sealing them, has something to show for his relationship with the President: One of the Obamacare executive orders issued last week closely tracks a longtime Paul policy push.
    Both senators tell aides and friends it is fruitless to live in the past, and that they appreciate the President's willingness to listen. Both also tell these aides and friends they believe they can influence the President because he is open-minded on most policy issues, and that friendship and flattery works.
    Like time, it appears, golf heals all wounds.