GOP still wary of Donald Trump

WASHINGTON — President Trump is attempting to turn the page on one of his most tumultuous weeks in office, when he drew fire from both within and outside of his party for comments seen as giving cover to hate groups. But his moves, including the departure of controversial White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, are unlikely to allay concern of some wary Republicans — even according to Bannon himself.

With a series of actions — Bannon’s departure, Trump’s tweeted praise for Boston protesters for “speaking out against bigotry or hate,” and the president’s planned announcement of a new military strategy for Afghanistan tonight — the White House hopes to put Trump’s fiery comments Tuesday blaming “both sides” in the deadly Charlottesville, Va., attack in the rearview mirror.

But Bannon, who will return to his post as executive chairman of Breitbart News, told The Washington Post: “No administration in history has been so divided among itself about the direction about where it should go,” and cast doubt that Trump and GOP lawmakers will see eye to eye.

“If the Republican Party on Capitol Hill gets behind the president on his plans and not theirs, it will all be sweetness and light, be one big happy family,” Bannon said, adding that he didn’t expect such “sweetness” anytime soon.

Some GOP lawmakers are still fuming over Trump’s Charl­ottesville remarks as well as his recent rhetorical escalation with North Korea, where Trump threatened “fire and fury” and tweeted that the U.S. military was “locked and loaded” for battle.

“The president has not yet been able to demonstrate the stability nor some of the competence that he needs to demonstrate in order to be successful,” said Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) at an event in Chattanooga.

Trump’s mercurial nature also makes it difficult to gauge what effect the personnel changes and focus on Afghanistan will make. Trump appeared to moderate after installing John Kelly — who brought greater structure to the inner workings of the White House — as chief of staff. But soon Trump resumed his Twitter attack against GOP lawmakers and the media, including retweeting an image of the personification of CNN being run over by a train before later deleting it.

One GOP strategist said while Trump appears to be making changes again now, “Who knows what’s going to happen tomorrow morning?”

Even the departure of Bannon left open the question of whether Trump fired him — a move that would have calmed the nerves of some Republicans. Bannon claimed he left voluntarily, and Trump did not contradict that account when he tweeted: “Steve Bannon will be a tough and smart new voice at @BreitbartNews…maybe even better than ever before. Fake News needs the competition!”

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