Steve Bannon Back at Breitbart After White House Ouster
Steve Bannon was not out of a job for long. Hours after being removed from the White House as President Trump’s chief strategist on Friday, Bannon returned to Breitbart News as its executive chairman, CNN Money reports. The far-right website made the announcement in a press release. “The populist-nationalist movement got a lot stronger today,” Breitbart News Editor-in-Chief Alex Marlow said in a written statement, according to CNN Money. “Breitbart gained an executive chairman with his finger on the pulse of the Trump agenda.”
According to Breitbart, Bannon led the company’s evening editorial meeting.
Bannon was let go as Trump’s chief strategist earlier in the day, marking the end of a turbulent seven months. According to multiple reports, his removal had been planned, and Trump’s new chief of staff, John Kelly, made it official.
Sources told CNN that Bannon’s ouster had been in the works for two weeks and a source said that while Bannon was given the option to resign, he was ultimately forced out. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders confirmed Bannon’s departure, but claimed the decision for him to leave was mutual.
“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,” Sanders said in a statement.
A combative presence in the White House, Bannon is the latest of several top-level aides to leave the Trump administration since July, among them press secretary Sean Spicer, chief of staff Reince Priebus and short-lived communications director Anthony Scaramucci.
The Associated Press reports:
Bannon had been on shaky ground for weeks, and his standing appeared in jeopardy when Trump’s new chief of staff, John Kelly, embarked on a personnel review of West Wing staff. Kelly had indicated to aides that significant changes could be coming, according to an official familiar with Kelly’s plans but not authorized to speak publicly.
The president had also repeatedly diminished Bannon’s role in his campaign in recent remarks and refused to express confidence during an impromptu news conference Tuesday.
“He’s a good person. He actually gets very unfair press in that regard,” Trump said. “But we’ll see what happens with Mr. Bannon.”
The decision whether to drop Bannon was more than just a personnel matter. The media guru is viewed in some circles as Trump’s connection to his base and the protector of Trump’s disruptive, conservative agenda.
Bannon’s departure comes the same week that he gave a controversial interview to liberal journalist Robert Kuttner for The American Prospect. During the interview, Bannon contradicted Trump’s “fire and fury” threat against North Korea, saying, “There’s no military solution [to North Korea’s nuclear threats]. Forget it. Until somebody solves the part of the equation that shows me that 10 million people in Seoul don’t die in the first 30 minutes from conventional weapons, I don’t know what you’re talking about. There’s no military solution here. They got us.”
Bannon often is cited as the nationalist ideological force in the White House, but in the same American Prospect interview, he was skeptical that he played a notable role in encouraging the violent “alt-right”:
He dismissed the far right as irrelevant and sidestepped his own role in cultivating it: “Ethno-nationalism—it’s losers. It’s a fringe element. I think the media plays it up too much, and we gotta help crush it, you know, uh, help crush it more.”
“These guys are a collection of clowns,” he added.
From his lips to Trump’s ear.
“The Democrats,” he said, “the longer they talk about identity politics, I got ’em. I want them to talk about racism every day. If the left is focused on race and identity, and we go with economic nationalism, we can crush the Democrats.”
Before leaving Trump’s administration, Bannon met with billionaire Robert Mercer, a major Trump donor and informal White House adviser, Newsweek and Axios reported. The meeting was believed to be about Bannon’s plans, which will involve Mercer and, according to a source close to Breitbart, going “‘thermonuclear’ against ‘globalists.’ ”
— Nancy Pelosi (@NancyPelosi) August 18, 2017
Bannon may no longer work in the White House, but Bannon’s bigotry remains. #BannonOut
— Chad Griffin (@ChadHGriffin) August 18, 2017