Consolidating power

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High-ranking military officials have become an increasingly ubiquitous presence in American political life during Donald Trump’s presidency, repeatedly winning arguments inside the West Wing, publicly contradicting the president and even balking at implementing one of his most controversial policies.Connected by their faith in order and global norms, these military leaders are rapidly consolidating power throughout the executive branch as they counsel a volatile president.

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Kelly, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and national security adviser H. Critics of the president welcome their ascendancy, seeing them as a calming force amid the daily chaos of the White House.

“They are right now playing an extraordinary role.” In the wake of the deadly racial violence in Charlottesville this month, five of the Joint Chiefs of Staff were hailed as moral authorities for condemning hate in less equivocal terms than the commander in chief did.

President Trump has surrounded himself with generals and pledged to revamp veterans' care, while also belittling the service of his opponents.

CIA Director Mike Pompeo, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Energy Secretary Rick Perry and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke each served in various branches of the military, and Trump recently tapped former Army general Mark S. Together with other allies in the administration, Kelly, Mattis and Mc Master see their roles not merely as executing Trump’s directives but also as guiding him away from moves that they fear could have catastrophic consequences, according to officials familiar with the dynamic.

But if a narrative takes hold that these generals are manipulating the president, Trump could rebel.

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