Fear - Trump in the White House
Bob Woodward
Contributed by Larisa Brooke
Chapter 31

Bannon seems to worry about Trump. Therefore, he talks to Kelly asking him to find someone who can cover for the president (Woodward 214). However, Kelly is steadfast in his opinion that they have to condemn the racist actions. Bannon also wants to resign by Friday. Away from Bannon, the NSC and Trump continue their discussion on Afghanistan. The president believes that the US needs to withdraw (Woodward 216). On the other hand, Mattis thinks that they need to maintain and stabilize their position by adding more troops. The CIA believe they can prepare and wrap up the whole operation in two years. Despite all the arguments, the President agrees to maintain their current position saying that they cannot just create a vacuum for Al Qaeda (Woodward 216). Later, the president approves McMaster’s R4s as the strategy for dealing with the Taliban in Afghanistan. He also authorizes Mattis to designate the Taliban and the terrorist Haqqani Network in Pakistan as hostile forces (Woodward 218). Trump believes that the new strategy will give him a win. However, McMaster concludes that winning in unattainable in his memo.

The author talks about an ‘off the record’ conversation between Trump and his senior staff. Trump says that he has fired Bannon for talking about North Korea and claiming that there is no viable military option (Woodward 218). Additionally, Trump gives a speech saying that he has a new strategy to ensure a winning result in Afghanistan. Other leaders such as Graham and McCain congratulate the president for taking the right step forward.


Bannon has grown close to Trump and that is the main reason for his profound worry about the President. He clearly understands that Trump is undergoing a phase of frustration and anger, but he cannot stand by him considering his offensive statements. Nonetheless, as a concerned employee and friend, he tries to find a solution to the problem. This shows that Bannon is both understanding and caring. However, at the same time, he seeks to resign since he has to protect his own reputation.

The president changes his mind on Afghanistan since he does not want to make mistakes that may hurt the US or its allies. He also wants to contain or eliminate Al Qaeda and Taliban and thus he approves of Mattis’ strategy, since winning the war will be an accomplishment that has eluded several Presidents since it all started. The President also talks about firing Bannon, seeing Bannon’s words as a betrayal. There is also a sense that Trump actually misses Bannon’s close counsel, considering that they had a close relationship and Bannon was always there to support the President on various issues.

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