The news Breitbart News reporter Julia Hahn will have a job in the Trump White House is concerning some allies of House Speaker Paul Ryan, though the speaker himself does not appear that worried, according to The Washington Post.
Politico first reported over the weekend Hahn had been hired as a special assistant to the president where she will work under Trump’s chief strategist and chief counsel Steve Bannon, her old boss at Breitbart.
While at Breitbart, Hahn wrote stories critical of Ryan after he did not enthusiastically back Trump’s candidacy, including one titled, “He’s With Her: Inside Paul Ryan’s Months-Long Campaign to Elect Hillary Clinton President.”
The hiring of Bannon himself stirred concerns he would bring an “alt-right” viewpoint to the White House. Bannon has called Breitbart News “alt-right,” though he has slammed the mainstream media for what he calls a one-dimensional view that every member of the movement are white nationalists.
“Our definition of the alt-right is younger people who are anti-globalists, very nationalist, terribly anti-establishment,” Bannon told The Wall Street Journal in November.
“She’ll be Bannon’s Bannon and make Bannon look moderate,” The Weekly Standard editor-at-large Bill Kristol told the Post. “Her tendency is to fight and fight, often to the extreme.”
Hahn’s role has some Ryan allies fearful Bannon is making a move to stop the good vibes Trump’s team and congressional leadership — including Ryan — have enjoyed.
“Privately, a number of House Republicans told The Washington Post that Hahn’s involvement signaled Bannon’s plans to possibly put her to use against them, writing searing commentaries about elected Republican leaders to ram through Trump’s legislative priorities and agitate the party’s base if necessary,” Post reporter Robert Costa wrote.
“This is obviously a provocative act and clearly an intentional act,” Ryan friend Peter Wehner, told the Post. “Bannon is willing to napalm the bridges with congressional Republicans.”
Wehner accused many in the GOP of “engaging in a fiction, a game, where Bannon and Trump are not taken seriously, even though Bannon and Trump are operating in a serious way and bringing on people who are going to work for their cause, not for conservatives.”
“Bannon has been at war with the Republican Party and that hasn’t changed,” Romney-Ryan 2012 chief strategist Stuart Stevens said. “In the Bannon-Ryan split, I’m on the Ryan side. I don’t consider what he’s doing to be populism, either.”
But other Ryan friends — and Ryan’s own office — were not that bothered.
“Let’s wait and see what she and Bannon end up doing,” Ryan associate Bob Woodson said. “Bannon’s been there, and it hasn’t fallen apart. Everyone is trying to figure the whole thing out.”
“My sense is that Trump has a good feeling these days toward Ryan and that the feeling is mutual,” Ryan mentor William J. Bennett added. “I’m hopeful those feelings will continue.”
As for Ryan, “We could not care less,” his spokesman Brendan Buck said.
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