Ban­non out of White House

The Daily Telegraph - - Front page - By Har­riet Alexan­der in New York

STEVE BAN­NON left the White House yes­ter­day after a con­tro­ver­sial six­month stint as Don­ald Trump’s chief strate­gist.

Mr Ban­non, who proudly pro­claimed that the Bre­it­bart web­site he ran was “a plat­form for the alt-right”, was widely blamed for the pres­i­dent’s ill-ad­vised de­fence of white su­prem­a­cists after the Char­lottesville ri­ots.

His de­par­ture marks a tri­umph for Ivanka Trump and her hus­band, Jared Kush­ner, plus John Kelly, the new chief of staff brought in to re­store or­der.

But they will doubt­less fear a “rogue” Mr Ban­non, now out­side the con­fines of the White House, who re­port­edly re­ferred to them in pri­vate as “the Democrats”. Mr Ban­non, 63, de­parted “by mu­tual agree­ment,” said Sarah Huck­abee San­ders, the White House press sec­re­tary. How­ever, Joel Pol­lack, of Bre­it­bart, tweeted a one-word re­sponse to Mr Ban­non’s de­par­ture: “War”.

The for­mer Gold­man Sachs fi­nancier was em­ployed by Mr Trump as his cam­paign man­ager in Au­gust 2016, and was be­hind the pres­i­dent’s pop­ulist mes­sage dur­ing the elec­tion cam­paign.

Mr Ban­non re­joined Bre­it­bart as ex­ec­u­tive chair­man hours after his fir­ing was an­nounced.

Last night, he said: “If there’s any con­fu­sion out there, let me clear it up: I’m go­ing to war for Trump against his op­po­nents.”

STEVE BAN­NON was yes­ter­day ousted from the White House by Don­ald Trump, end­ing a tu­mul­tuous ten­ure at the pres­i­dent’s side as Mr Trump strug­gles to deal with the tsunami of crit­i­cism after his Char­lottesville re­sponse.

Mr Ban­non, 63, de­parted “by mu­tual agree­ment,” said Sarah Huck­abee San­ders, White House press sec­re­tary.

The Trump team then is­sued a state­ment say­ing that the de­ci­sion was agreed by Mr Ban­non and John Kelly, the chief of staff – a sign of Mr Kelly’s grap­pling to con­trol the chaos, or per­haps sim­ply to avoid Mr Trump hav­ing to put his name to the fir­ing of the man who most con­nects him to his diehard sup­port­ers.

Joel Pol­lack, edi­tor at large of the hard-right web­site Bre­it­bart that Mr Ban­non ran, tweeted a one-word re­sponse to Mr Ban­non’s de­par­ture: “War”. Nigel Farage, the for­mer Ukip leader, tweeted: “Very sorry to see my friend Steve Ban­non go. His po­lit­i­cal brain will be hard to re­place.”

Mr Ban­non was con­tro­ver­sial from the start. Com­bat­ive and unapolo­getic, the for­mer Gold­man Sachs fi­nancier was em­ployed by Mr Trump as his cam­paign man­ager in Aug 2016, and de­scribed at the time as “the most dan­ger­ous po­lit­i­cal op­er­a­tive in Amer­ica”.

He urged Mr Trump to pur­sue a pop­ulist path, and pressed him to ham­mer Hil­lary Clin­ton as cor­rupt – re­port­edly com­ing up with the “lock her up” chant that re­ver­ber­ated around his ral­lies.

It was Mr Ban­non, with fel­low hard­liner Stephen Miller, who wrote Mr Trump’s in­au­gu­ra­tion speech – a dark and fore­bod­ing de­pic­tion of the “Amer­i­can car­nage” that Mr Trump be­lieved he had been elected to stop.

He was of­ten at odds with the “glob­al­ist” wing of the White House – Jared Kush­ner, Mr Trump’s son-in-law; Ivanka Trump; HR Mcmaster, the head of the na­tional se­cu­rity coun­cil; and Gary Cohn, di­rec­tor of the na­tional eco­nomic coun­cil.

Mr Ban­non re­port­edly re­ferred to them in pri­vate as “the New York­ers” and “the Democrats”, among more print­able nick­names, and tried to steer his boss away from them and to­wards his own na­tion­al­ist sym­pa­this­ers.

At first the pres­i­dent thought fondly of his flame-throw­ing ide­o­logue, who was seen to wield im­mense be­hindthe-scenes power in­side the White House. Satur­day Night Live de­picted

‘The pres­i­dent has not yet been able to demon­strate the sta­bil­ity nor some of the com­pe­tence that he needs to’

him as the grim reaper, play­ing Mr Trump like a pup­pet – some­thing that re­port­edly amused Mr Ban­non, but en­raged his boss. His de­par­ture had been re­ported as im­mi­nent be­fore, but since Char­lottesville the drum beat of demise rose to a frenzy.

Mr Trump was re­ported ear­lier this week to have not spo­ken face-to-face with Mr Ban­non in over a week, and on Tues­day, at the now in­fa­mous press con­fer­ence in which he de­fended white su­prem­a­cists, Mr Trump could only of­fer a luke­warm en­dorse­ment, re­spond­ing to a ques­tion about Mr Ban­non’s fu­ture with: “We’ll see.”

That press con­fer­ence sparked con­dem­na­tion of a pres­i­dent never be­fore seen in the United States – the heads of the mil­i­tary spoke out against their com­man­der-in-chief, and the UN sec­re­tary-gen­eral voiced con­cern. Ti­tans of in­dus­try who Mr Trump had so as­sid­u­ously courted on the cam­paign trail de­serted him in droves, lead­ing to the fold­ing of both his busi­ness ad­vi­sory pan­els. Yes­ter­day the arts coun­cil re­signed en masse – the first White House agency to do so.

Bob Corker, a se­nior Repub­li­can loy­al­ist and chair of the Se­nate for­eign re­la­tions com­mit­tee, who was con­sid­ered for sec­re­tary of state, de­clared that “the pres­i­dent has not yet been able to demon­strate the sta­bil­ity nor some of the com­pe­tence that he needs to” in deal­ing with crises.

And, while Mr Trump sought to shift from the white su­prem­a­cists to the fu­ture of stat­ues on Thurs­day, he was crit­i­cised by Ru­pert Murdoch’s son James in an email widely cir­cu­lated. “I can’t be­lieve I have to write this: stand­ing up to Nazis is es­sen­tial; there are no good Nazis. Or Klans­men, or ter­ror­ists,” he wrote.

Mr Ban­non per­haps sealed his own fate this week by tele­phon­ing a re­porter with The Amer­i­can Prospect, a Left-wing pub­li­ca­tion, to con­tra­dict his boss. “There’s no mil­i­tary so­lu­tion [to North Korea’s nu­clear threats], for­get it,” said Mr Ban­non, di­rectly un­der­min­ing Mr Trump’s vow to re­spond if at­tacked by Py­ongyang.

Nigel Farage tweeted: “Very sorry to see my friend Steve Ban­non go. His po­lit­i­cal brain will be hard to re­place.”

Steve Ban­non urged Mr Trump to fol­low pop­ulist poli­cies dur­ing the elec­tion cam­paign, but was at odds with those he called ‘the Democrats’ among the pres­i­dent’s in­ner cir­cle

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