Steve Bannon's role is said to be under particular scrutiny in a review of communication and efficiency.
White House chief of staff John Kelly spent this week in Bedminster, N.J., pondering changes in the West Wing, according to four White House officials.
Kelly summoned aides to President Donald Trump’s golf club there to ask about their portfolios and make suggestions on how to make the West Wing communicate better and get more done, while giving people clear responsibilities and then holding them accountable. The role of chief strategist Steve Bannon has come under particular scrutiny in several conversations, particularly because he has a large staff, including an outside public relations expert, but no specific duties.
In a number of daily meetings, Kelly generated a list of concerns, including aides without clear portfolios, decisions that aren’t made with proper vetting and internal fights — particularly a sustained campaign against national security adviser H.R. McMaster. He has met with top aides, including the president’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, about making changes, the four officials say. In some of the encounters, he has suggested that people should be more concerned with the president’s agenda and less concerned with their own.
Kelly, a former Marine general, has also raised concerns about the administration’s communications, personnel practices and political operations, these officials said. He has said there have been too many internal fights over appointments, and that they need to speed up. He has been vague about exactly what he wants, telling aides he is still studying the White House, but has made clear “that the place will be different soon,” one senior administration official said. He has asked aides to deliver reports back — and has asked them how they would improve the West Wing.
He has heard a number of complaints about Bannon, who has remained in Washington during the president’s stay in Bedminster, and was displeased by a TV performance from Sebastian Gorka, a national security aide, who questioned Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s comments about the use of military force against North Korea. He has also been told of concerns that aides are given identical or competing assignments -- with no one sure who is in charge.
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