Chief White House strategist Steve Bannon tried to order Department of Homeland Security secretary John Kelly to not issue a waiver exempting green-card holders from President Trump’s travel-ban executive order, according to a report — which the White House is denying — in the Washington Post. Per two Trump administration officials who spoke with the Post’s Josh Rogin, Kelly apparently rebuffed the attempt, telling Bannon that he only takes orders from the president. The president never weighed in, and Kelly went ahead and issued the waiver, which was made public on Sunday night, ending two full days of confusion and chaos around the question of whether or not permanent U.S. residents from the seven predominantly Muslim nations included in the ban would be allowed to reenter the country. The White House itself then confirmed that green-card holders were exempt from the order on Tuesday.
Rogin’s post has undergone a series of revisions since it was published early Saturday, mainly because he didn’t request comment from the White House before publishing the story, and once the White House weighed in, press secretary Sean Spicer denied most of what Rogin’s sources had reported. Despite the revisions, Rogin and the Post seem to be standing by the central thrust of the piece — that two administration officials say that Bannon and Kelly had a disagreement over issuing the waiver for green-card holders, and Kelly told Bannon that only President Trump could order him to back off on the waiver. Originally, the Post report said that Bannon had even made an unscheduled visit to Kelly’s office on Saturday over the issue, but that was later removed from the story. Spicer and Bannon both deny that any confrontation ever occurred, and Spicer went so far as to tell the Huffington Post that the whole report a “patently false, made up story” and that it was “unbelievably unprofessional” for Rogin and the Post to not seek comment from the White House before publishing.
That being acknowledged, Rogin’s unnamed sources also said that cabinet officials had banded together during a 2 a.m. phone call among senior White House staff on Sunday to oppose the haphazard way the president’s executive order had been conceived and implemented by the White House’s growing Breitbart wing, Bannon and White House senior policy adviser Stephen Miller. Then at a larger meeting on Sunday, White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus ordered a temporary suspension of the issuing of additional executive orders until better procedures — as in ones that were inclusive of more White House voices — could be put in place. (Rogin originally reported that Trump himself had made that decision, but apparently it was Priebus, and Spicer denies that a pause was ordered — just new procedures.)