“Chief of Staff John Kelly and Steve Bannon have mutually agreed today would be Steve’s last day. We are grateful for his service and wish him the best,” press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement.
Kelly had earlier wrapped up a review of the West Wing staff and the former Breitbart editor, the voice of the alt-right who had the president’s ear, was the first casualty. “Bannon had one hell of a run,” tweeted Matt Drudge, who first reported the story.
Bannon had been on the outs with Trump before for grandstanding and stealing the spotlight, but the president suspected he was one of the main leakers in the administration, trashing his colleagues in news reports.
The notoriously thin-skinned president resented the publicity Bannon had been getting as the supposed mastermind of Trump’s campaign and upset victory. One White House source told Axios, “His departure may seem turbulent in the media, but inside it will be very smooth. He has no projects or responsibilities to hand off.”
Bannon in recent days gave interviews to publications including the New York Times, in which he defended Trump’s controversial comments in the wake of the racial violence in Charlottesville, Va., last weekend. A senior White House official told Axios that it seemed like Bannon was setting himself up to be a martyr — the white nationalist hero canned by the “globalists.”
A source close to Bannon added: “This week is a good window into what Bannon outside the [White House] would look like: A strong defense of POTUS and ‘fire and fury’ for enemies of the Trump agenda. Get ready for Bannon the barbarian.” And Bannon was expected to rejoin Breitbart, which he once said gave a platform to the alt-right.
Trump told reporters at Trump Tower on Tuesday that Bannon was a “good man” and “not a racist.”
In his interview with the ultra-liberal American Prospect, Bannon contradicted the president’s position on North Korea while trashing his more moderate colleagues for their views on an “economic war” with China.
The danger for Trump is that Bannon will unleash Breitbart and other conservative media against the White House. Bannon had a rocky relationship with some of Trump’s top aides, especially Jared Kushner and National Economic Council director Gary Cohn, and has shown he’s not averse to a scorched-earth policy. Bannon’s departure could empower more moderate voices in the administration, including Cohn and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
Sam Nunberg, a Bannon confidant, said that when he’s back at Breitbart, “Steve will compliment the administration when it’s right. When it’s wrong, he’ll knock their block hard.” But one Breitbart editor, Joel Pollack, has already posted an ominous warning on his Twitter feed: “#War.”
“The populist-nationalist movement got a lot stronger today,” said Breitbart News Editor-in-Chief Alex Marlow. “Breitbart gained an executive chairman with his finger on the pulse of the Trump agenda.” Breitbart News CEO and President Larry Solov agreed. “Breitbart’s pace of global expansion will only accelerate with Steve back,” said Solov. “The sky’s the limit.”
Bannon joined the Trump campaign on August 17, 2016 — nearly one year ago to the day of his return to Breitbart. He submitted his intention to leave the White House on August 7 of this year.
“White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and Steve Bannon have mutually agreed today would be Steve’s last day,” said White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders Friday afternoon. “We are grateful for his service and wish him the best.”
The Drudge Report hailed Bannon as a “populist hero” who enjoyed an “impressive run” during his tenure as President Trump’s top White House strategist and campaign CEO.
White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon — the former Breitbart News executive chairman who helped guide then-candidate Donald Trump’s flagging presidential campaign to a historic victory — is on his way out of the White House, with a source close to Bannon telling Axios: “Get ready for Bannon the barbarian.”
Axios first reported that Bannon, who was brought on to the campaign in August to replace Paul Manafort as campaign chairman, was expected to depart from the White House imminently. Soon after, the Drudge Report issued a siren on the site’s front page, declaring: “Bannon Out at White House” adding that he was “moving on after an impressive run.”
Meanwhile, the New York Times also reported that President Trump had decided to remove Bannon, but Trump and senior White House officials were debating “when and how to dismiss” Bannon.
The Times reported that a person close to Bannon insisted that a departure was Bannon’s idea and that a resignation had been submitted on August 7 — but the protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, had delayed his departure.
The White House later partly confirmed the reports: “White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and Steve Bannon have mutually agreed today would be Steve’s last day. We are grateful for his service and wish him the best,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement. No further details were immediately available.
Bannon was widely reported to have feuded with a number of the globalists White House officials within Trump’s administration, as he sought to get Trump to stick to the campaign promises that had helped carry him to his win in November.
The Times reported that Bannon had clashed with members of Trump’s family. Axios reported that Bannon was suspected of leaking about colleagues and that Trump “resents the publicity Bannon has been getting as mastermind of the campaign.”
However, while it was unclear what Bannon’s next move would be, a source close to Bannon told Axios: “Get ready for Bannon the barbarian.”
“If there’s any confusion out there, let me clear it up: I’m leaving the White House and going to war for Trump against his opponents — on Capitol Hill, in the media, and in corporate America,” Bannon told Bloomberg Businessweek’s Joshua Green.
Green said that Bannon “sounded like he’d just consumed 40 Red Bulls” during his conversation with him on the phone. Bannon did not specifically mention the White House “Democrats” advising Trump in his conversation with Green, widely considered to be his enemies during his period of service.