White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said during Monday's press briefing that rumors about two of President Donald Trump's top advisers fighting are being "overblown" by the media.
It was reported last Thursday that Trump's chief strategist, Steve Bannon, and the president's son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, could not get along and that their relationship had "deteriorated," according to the New York Times.
The schism within Mr. Trump’s perpetually fractious White House has grown in recent weeks, fueled by personality, ideology and ambition. At its core are Mr. Bannon, the edgy, nationalist bomb-thrower suddenly in the seat of power, and Mr. Kushner, the polished, boyish-looking scion of New Jersey and New York real estate. Even as Mr. Kushner’s portfolio of responsibilities has been expanding, Mr. Bannon’s in recent days has shrunk with the loss of a national security post.
The escalating feud, though, goes beyond mere West Wing melodrama, the sort of who’s-up-and-who’s-down scorekeeping that typically consumes Washington. Instead, it reflects a larger struggle to guide the direction of the Trump presidency, played out in disagreements over the policies Mr. Trump should pursue, the people he should hire and the image he should put forward to the American people.
CBS White House correspondent Major Garrett asked Spicer about the reported infighting between Bannon and Kushner during the press briefing.
"There’s a lot of stuff that was overblown about this, that makes it out into the media sometimes and gets a little more sensational than it truly is," Spicer told reporters.
Spicer went on to say that Trump was pleased with the past week's "strong foreign policy wins," including the success of the missile strike on Syria and meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
"I think that he recognizes that sometimes some of this spills over, these policy differences and discussions, and he's made sure that the focus stays on advancing the agenda," Spicer said.
However, Spicer said earlier that Trump believes his staff should be able to hash out their differences on policies and personal issues behind closed doors, without the media critiquing their differences.
"Our battles and our policy differences need to be behind closed doors," Spicer had said. "We need to focus and ultimately all come out committed to his agenda."
Spicer's comments followed news that White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus reportedly called a meeting between Kushner and Bannon, encouraging the two advisers to work out their differences. The meeting took place at Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Fla.