President Donald Trump’s closest allies are planning a slate of primary challenges against Republican senators, potentially undermining the party’s prospects in 2018 and further inflaming tensions between GOP leaders and the White House. The effort is being led by Steve Bannon, Trump’s bomb-throwing former chief strategist who is launching an all-out war against Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the Republican establishment. Bannon has begun holding private meetings with insurgent challengers, vowing his support. He’s coordinating with conservative mega-donor Robert Mercer, who is prepared to pour millions of dollars into attacks on GOP incumbents. Bannon has also installed a confidant at an outside group that is expected to target Republican lawmakers and push the Trump agenda.
Republicans fear that Bannon will cause the Republican National Committee to bleed money, since it would require the organization to help Republican incumbents against both primary challengers and challengers in the main election.
The activity has alarmed senior Republicans, who worry it will drain millions of dollars from the party’s coffers to take on Democrats in the general election. McConnell has repeatedly expressed concern to the White House about the danger primaries pose to his members, stressing that it could imperil his narrow four-seat majority, according to three people with direct knowledge of the discussions. Bannon is paying little heed to those warnings.