Staff changes at the White House

Reporting by James Rosen

With the firing on Friday of Sebastian Gorka, the Trump White House lost its last prominent foreign policy hard liner.

The author of a well-regarded history of Jihad, Gorka lost key backers when Mike Flynn and Steve Bannon were each sent packing, and sometimes failed, in his frequent TV appearances, to help his own cause.

In his resignation letter, Gorka noted the absence of the term “radical Islam” from the commander-in-chief’s recent Afghanistan address, and lamented: “A crucial element of the presidential campaign has been lost.”

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told Fox News Sunday’s Chris Wallace “I think he’s completely wrong, Chris. And I think it shows a lack of understanding of the president’s broader policy…”

In the same appearance, Tillerson was only slightly less direct in declining to endorse President Trump’s post-Charlottesville rhetoric, saying the president “speaks for himself” when asked about his values.

On numerous issues, including trade policy, the president maintains his own hard line.

Reporter Jonathan Swan of Axios published a story Sunday, “undisputed by the White House,” he noted, recounting a scene from the first week of August in which the president told advisers in the oval office” “for the last six months, this same group of geniuses comes in here all the time and I tell them, ‘tariffs. I want tariffs. And what do they do?  They bring me IP,” meaning measures to curb Chinese theft of intellectual property.

“So, John [the president reportedly told his new Chief of Staff, General Kelly], I want you to know, this is my view. I want tariffs. And I want someone to bring me some tariffs.”

Swan added that top economic adviser Gary Cohn, who opposes tariffs and the protectionist trade measures pushed by the “Bannonites,” had his shoulders slumped and was clearly appalled by the situation.