Here’s one of the most intriguing — and consequential — theories circulating inside the White House: The generals, the New Yorkers and Republican congressional leaders see themselves as an unofficial committee to protect Trump and the nation from disaster.
This loose alliance is informal. But as one top official told me: “If you see a guy about to stab someone with a knife, you don’t need to huddle to decide to grab the knife.”
The theory was described to Jim VandeHei and me in a series of private chats with high-ranking officials:
The generals — White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis — speak frequently, see the world similarly and privately express a sense of duty to help steer Trump. The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Joseph Dunford, is an ally.
The New Yorkers, including economic adviser Gary Cohn and Deputy National Security Adviser Dina Powell (with 25 years of foreign-policy experience for conservative House members and President George W. Bush), have subsumed some of their personal views to blunt Trump’s worst ideas.
This crowd is highly skilled at communicating with the president (using visuals and grand positioning) to refine or moderate “America first” provocations. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin is also very involved, helping demand a process where POTUS has all the information to make domestic and international economic decisions.
Republican congressional leaders won’t win any profiles in courage for standing up to Trump. But almost all could move against the president if special counsel Bob Mueller finds crimes, or the president succumbs to radical instincts.
(Excerpted from Axios 8/9/17)