Pressure builds to cut Stockman, Allen from the team
Washington — Time is not helping mend the cracks in the President's inner circle. ''Each day Allen is away it becomes less likely he will return,'' says a administration source close to President Reagan.
And from another close-in administration aide comes this comment: ''Stockman will be gone by March.''
The President is pictured as still trying to keep an open mind on whether to keep or fire national security adviser Richard V. -Allen and Budget Director David A. Stockman. His loyalty to his people should not be underestimated, these sources say.
But Mr. Reagan is hearing more advice along these lines: This is baggage you don't need - don't let it hang on and continue to divert you from pursuing your main goals.
One bit of advice, concerning Mr. Allen, was put in words like these: ''Why buy into trouble you don't need. There are other qualified people you can bring in. Allen really hasn't made any contribution in terms of policy.''
Regarding Mr. Stockman, the President is being urged to keep him until the budget is developed and then dump him. The argument runs like this: ''Stockman may seem to be making a little comeback. But he will never have full credibility again after the Atlantic article. So use him for a while. And then start off anew, with an OMB chief with full credibility.''
Allen's problems stem mainly from his handling of a $1,000 honorarium from Japanese journalists, given after their interview with Nancy Reagan. After taking a leave from office recently, Allen went public to clear his name. Now he is remaining quiet - hoping, it is said, that the flurry over him will fade.
But as yet, it hasn't. And there are those within the President's inner circle who don't think it's likely to. These aides see Allen as a liability. There is said to be a growing feeling even among Allen's defenders in the administration that it may be in the best interests of all - Allen's as well as the President's - to let the security adviser go.
One administration aide, privy to the conversations taking place on this subject, says that probably the best that Allen can expect now is to be brought back for a short time - ''so he can be rehabilitated'' - and then be given a appointment to some other post.
Meanwhile, Stockman has appeared to be on the comeback trail - and he may be. But the word from high-up administration circles is that he still has a ways to go to regain a firm hold on his job, and that he may not make it.
Stockman has received a polite and, by-and-large, a respectful hearing from members of Congress. He returns now from Peoria, Ill., where he was enthusiastically received at a party fund-raiser.
There is now a growing sentiment among the President's advisers that Mr. Reagan should no longer show patience toward those in his team who become entangled in anything that raises a question of ethics.
Labor Secretary Raymond J. Donovan could become a test case. Department of Justice officials confirm they are conducting a preliminary probe into the secretary's past business dealings. They are apparently asking about alleged Mafia connections with Mr. Donovan's former construction company.
A top administration assistant says, ''If Donovan embarrasses the President, I don't think he will be around very long.''
Within the President's troika of key advisors, James Baker, Michael Deaver, and Edwin Meese, there now appears to be a growing consensus: The President must deal with internal personnel problems quickly.
Baker had been portrayed as the one member of the troika who originally thought Stockman should stay on. And Meese was considered the lone member of the threesome backing Allen.
Now administration insiders say there is a growing feeling that Allen may have lost his battle to return and that Stockman, while on firmer ground than Allen, is still only hanging on by his finger tips.
Yet this perception of the precarious position of both Allen and Stockman runs counter to public pronouncements from the white house.
Meese says he expects Allen to come back on board. And Stockman is being talked about in some administration circles as though he is in to stay. House Republican leader Robert H. Michel of Illinois says Stockman is ''indispensable'' to the President's economic program.
Allen told a breakfast group recently he intended to return, but said the decision rested with the President.