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Bannon and Kushner agree to ‘bury the hatchet’ after White House peace talks

Trumps chief of staff Reince Priebus tells the feuding pair to end the palace intrigue after weeks of damaging infighting

White House aides Steve Bannon and Jared Kushner have met and agreed to bury the hatchet over their differences, a senior administration official said, in a bid to stop infighting that has distracted from Donald Trumps message.

Bannon, the presidents chief strategist, and Kushner, an influential adviser and Trumps son-in-law, met on Friday at the request of White House chief of staff Reince Priebus who told them that if they have any policy differences, they should air them internally, the official said.

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

Trump ordered airstrikes against Syrian targets that drew praise in 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 Chinese flag.

Priebus message to Bannon and Kushner was to stop with the palace intrigue and focus on the presidents agenda, the official told Reuters.

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 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.

Hes got a long fuse for that kind of thing, said one former adviser. I imagine he has gotten tired of this.

The White House dismissed persistent talk that Trump might be on the verge of a staff shakeup. The only thing we are shaking up is the way Washington operates as we push the presidents aggressive agenda forward, spokeswoman 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 rollout of an executive order attempting to temporarily ban citizens of six Muslim-majority nations from entering the United States.

Bannon, former chief of the conservative news organisation Breitbart News, has been at odds with Kushner and Gary Cohn, the head of the White House national economic council, an administration official and the four former advisers said.

The former Trump advisers said Kushner, husband of Trump daughter Ivanka Trump, is trying to tug the president into a more mainstream position, while Bannon is trying to keep aflame the nationalist fervor that carried Trump to his unexpected election victory in November.

Bannon is getting some of the blame for the administrations early stumbles because, one former adviser said, the president demands results.

In what was viewed as a sign of Bannons declining influence, he was removed from his seat on the national security council this week. Administration officials said this was done at the urging of national security adviser HR McMaster, with whom Bannon had clashed.

Some of the former Trump advisers said Priebus is at fault for not gaining control of the feuding and said Cohn, a former Goldman Sachs executive, would be a candidate to replace him.

Priebus is the former chairman of the Republican National Committee and bucked many in his party by putting the weight of the RNC behind Trump when it was clear he would be the partys presidential nominee. Reince is chief of staff, said a source familiar with the issue. Hes not going anywhere.

Republican strategist Charlie Black, who has known Trump for 30 years, said he did not think a shakeup was imminent and that Trumps White House reflects his traditional approach to running his business.

Hes always had a spokes-to-the-wheel management style, said Black. He wants people with differing views among the spokes.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/apr/09/bannon-and-kushner-agree-to-bury-the-hatchet-after-white-house-peace-talks


Ivanka Trump to become White House employee instead of informal adviser

Presidents daughter decides to assume official role as unpaid government employee in attempt to mitigate ethical controversy over administration position

Following criticism from ethics experts, Ivanka Trump will become an official government employee, working as an unpaid adviser to her father in the White House, alongside her husband.

Last week the presidents daughter came under fire after announcing she would become an adviser without a specific title, but with an office in the West Wing, a government-issued phone and computer and security clearance to access classified information.

While there is no modern precedent for an adult child of the president, I will voluntarily follow all of the ethics rules placed on government employees, she said at the time.

Richard Painter, a law professor at the University of Minnesota who served as chief ethics lawyer for George W Bush between 2005 and 2007 and has frequently spoken out about the Trump familys various ethical controversies, told the Guardian: She has a West Wing office, she has equipment, she has a White House email address, shes going to be doing policy work. For purposes of the conflict of interest statute, I believe she is a government employee.

Now Ivanka Trump has responded to such criticism by taking on a formal role.

She said in a statement: I have heard the concerns some have with my advising the president in my personal capacity while voluntarily complying with all ethics rules, and I will instead serve as an unpaid employee in the White House office, subject to all of the same rules as other federal employees.

Her lawyer, Jamie Gorelick, told the New York Times, which first reported the news, that Trump had changed her mind because of her commitment to compliance with federal ethics standards and her openness to opposing points of view.

The Times quoted a spokeswoman for Donald Trump as saying: Ivankas service as an unpaid employee furthers our commitment to ethics, transparency and compliance and affords her increased opportunities to lead initiatives driving real policy benefits for the American public that would not have been available to her previously.

Painter told the Guardian on Wednesday: I think she made the right decision because her lawyers told her what Ive been saying all along … that she is a government employee.

He added: And I think she understands that and I think she told the White House, Stop screwing around and playing games and let her be an employee.

Referring to conflict of interest statutes, he said: Im glad they sorted this out, because the last thing we need is the presidents daughter committing a crime that could be a felony.

The role of billionaire investor Carl Icahn, another of Donald Trumps informal advisers, needed to be similarly formalised, Painter said.

Several attorneys and government watchdog leaders last week wrote a letter to White House counsel Don McGahn asking him to reconsider his approval of Ivanka Trump serving her father without becoming an official government employee.

Norman Eisen, who was Barack Obamas ethics counselor, was among those who signed the letter. He said that for a change in what has largely been an ethics disaster, the White House came to their senses. Lets hope it doesnt turn out to be an isolated moment of sanity.

Fred Wertheimer, president of the government watchdog group Democracy 21 and a co-writer of the letter to McGahn, said he commended Ivanka Trump for formalizing her status. Democracy 21 praises Ms Trump for her decision, which recognizes that it would have been wrong for her to function as a White House employee and not be subject to the same rules that apply to other White House employees, he said in a statement.

There is no precedent for someone whose father is president to work in the White House, although two presidents Andrew Jackson and James Buchanan had their nieces serve in the role of first lady since Jackson was a widower and Buchanan a bachelor.

Ivanka Trump has handed control over the day-to-day running of her eponymous clothing business to an executive and its assets are maintained by a trust managed by two of her husbands siblings.

As part of the trust rules, outlined in the New York Times, Trump can veto any potential business deals for her clothing company that might create a conflict with her political work meaning she will continue to know about any new deals.

Trumps marriage to her fathers senior adviser, the real estate developer Jared Kushner, poses additional potential problems, because both could benefit financially from each others businesses.

Kushner was appointed to an additional role this week at the helm of Donald Trumps White House Office of American Innovation, which is designed to overhaul the federal government with input from the private sector.

The same day it was revealed that Kushner would testify before a Senate committee investigating Russian interference in last years election. Kushners offer to appear before the Senate panel stems from his meeting with Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the US whose contacts with former national security adviser Michael Flynn led to the latters resignation.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/mar/29/ivanka-trump-white-house-government-employee-ethics


As Jared Kushner ascends White House ladder, Senate Russia inquiry adds scrutiny

Trumps son-in-law will lead Office of American Innovation to privatize certain government functions, as he agrees to testify in Russia election investigation

Jared Kushner, Donald Trumps son-in-law and senior adviser, found himself back in the spotlight for better and for worse on Monday.

As the US president appointed him to a new White House role, it was revealed that Kushner would testify before a Senate committee investigating Russian interference in last years election.

With Kushner at its helm, Trumps White House Office of American Innovation is designed to overhaul the federal government with input from the private sector, it was announced on Monday. The venture, which will bring together a team of former executives to privatize certain government functions, will follow through on the presidents business-minded approach to running the country.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/mar/27/jared-kushner-white-house-office-trump-russia


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