Amid the croquet players and lunch guests mingling at Mar-a-Lago Friday, a more sober gathering was unfolding under the palms. Steve Bannon, the bomb-throwing former Breitbart executive who serves as President Donald Trump’s chief strategist, was huddling at an out-of-the-way table with Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner in an attempt to broker peace in a deepening — and, increasingly, distracting — rift between rival West Wing factions. As Trump grew frustrated with the clear tensions between Bannon and Kushner, his ascendant senior adviser, he insisted they work out their differences.
“We gotta work this out,” Trump told the pair on Thursday, according to a White House official. “Cut it out.”
The message came after the ideological divide between Bannon and Kushner, which had split White House staffers and stood poised to determine the administration’s agenda moving forward, had spilled into the open through media reports.
That led to the Friday meeting, which was coordinated by Chief of Staff Reince Priebus.
Priebus’ goal was “to get them on the same page,” a senior administration official said.
Priebus, after that meeting, told the president that they had a good talk, according to the official.
It’s still not clear, however, whether the detente will hold.
“Time will tell,” the official said.
One person who has spoken with Trump in the last day said the President expressed doubts that the differences have been resolved, but hopes Bannon and Kushner can bring the feuding into check.
In asking his two advisers to work out their differences, the President has made his displeasure at the infighting known. He has told people if it doesn’t get better, he will take action — though he hasn’t detailed precisely what his moves might entail.
Trump still values Bannon and his advice, his confidantes say, and isn’t opposed to dueling positions among his staff. He just wants the differences to remain contained and constructive.
The divide between Bannon and Kushner has extended beyond the two men themselves, who work in abutting offices just steps from the Oval Office.