Bannon out of White House
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