Steven Bannon, now-former chief strategist to President Donald Trump, believes that "the Trump presidency that we fought for, and won, is over."
Bannon spoke to the Weekly Standard on Friday afternoon, shortly after news of his departure from the White House broke. He told TWS that his leaving the administration marked a turning point for Trump's presidency.
"The Trump presidency that we fought for, and won, is over," Bannon said. "We still have a huge movement, and we will make something of this Trump presidency. But that presidency is over. It'll be something else. And there'll be all kinds of fights, and there’ll be good days and bad days, but that presidency is over."
Prior to leaving the White House, Bannon was a close confidante of the president, starting when he joined Trump's dark-horse presidential campaign. In recent days, things seemed to have soured between him and the President, especially after Bannon gave an interview to the left-leaning American Prospect in which he contradicted Trump on several issues, including North Korea.
Still, Bannon seemed to believe that he and Trump share goals — and that with Bannon out of the White House, achieving those goals will be much harder.
"Now, it’s gonna be Trump," he said. "The path forward on things like economic nationalism and immigration, and his ability to kind of move freely … I just think his ability to get anything done – particularly the bigger things, like the wall, the bigger, broader things that we fought for, it’s just gonna be that much harder."
Bannon pinned the blame for this sea change in the administration on "the West Wing Democrats" and forewarned of a "jailbreak of these moderate guys on the Hill," who, he feared, would undermine his populist-nationalist agenda.
"It's the Republican establishment. The Republican establishment has no interest in Trump's success on this. They're not populists, they're not nationalists, they had no interest in his program. Zero. It was a half-hearted attempt at Obamacare reform, it was no interest really on the infrastructure, they'll do a very standard Republican version of taxes," he said.
"What Trump ran on — border wall, where is the funding for the border wall, one of his central tenets, where have they been?" he asked. "On what element of Trump's program, besides tax cuts — which is going to be the standard marginal tax cut – where have they rallied to Trump’s cause? They haven't."
Rather, Bannon predicted, with him gone, Congressional Republicans and White House moderates would try to reign in Trump.
"I think they're going to try to moderate him," he said. "I think he’ll sign a clean debt ceiling, I think you'll see all this stuff. His natural tendency — and I think you saw it this week on — his actual default position is the position of his base, the position that got him elected. I think you’re going to see a lot of constraints on that. I think it'll be much more conventional."
Bannon claimed that his departure was amicable, explaining, "I want to get back to Breitbart."
"On August 7th, I talked to Kelly and to the President, and I told them that my resignation would be effective the following Monday, on the 14th. I'd always planned on spending one year. General Kelly has brought in a great new system, but I said it would be best. I want to get back to Breitbart," he said.
In spite of his fears for the Trump administration's future, Bannon is positive about life after the White House.
"I feel jacked up," he said. "Now I'm free. I've got my hands back on my weapons. Someone said, 'it's Bannon the Barbarian.' I am definitely going to crush the opposition. There's no doubt."
"I built a fucking machine at Breitbart. And now I'm about to go back, knowing what I know, and we're about to rev that machine up. And rev it up we will do," he said.
Bannon returned to Breitbart immediately after leaving the White House, reportedly chairing Friday evening's editorial meeting. A Breitbart front-page article heralded the return of the "populist hero."