Bannon Out as White House Strategist

White House: Kelly and Bannon 'mutually agreed' Friday would be Bannon's last day

Steve Bannon / Getty
August 18, 2017

Steve Bannon is out as chief White House strategist less than seven months into the Trump administration.

The former Breitbart News chairman who joined President Donald Trump's team last August and helped inject a nationalist theme into his campaign has been dismissed after a tumultuous tenure that often saw him in conflict with other white House staffers.

A White House statement to CNN said Chief of Staff John Kelly and Bannon had "mutually agreed" Friday would be Bannon's last day.

There have been speculations for weeks that Bannon would be fired from the administration, but the Drudge Report tweeted out Axios' article on administration officials expecting Bannon to be fired.

As of early Friday morning, Trump and senior administration officials were still discussing Bannon's future in the White House, but a person close to Bannon said that Bannon was leaving willingly and that he had previously submitted a letter of resignation to Trump on Aug. 7. The announcement had been delayed because of all the backlash from the Charlottesville protests last weekend, according to the New York Times:

Mr. Bannon had clashed for months with other senior West Wing advisers and members of the president’s family.

But the loss of Mr. Bannon, the right-wing nationalist who helped propel some of Mr. Trump’s campaign promises into policy reality, raises the potential for the president to face criticism from the conservative news media base that supported him over the past year.

Mr. Bannon’s many critics bore down after the violence in Charlottesville. Outraged over Mr. Trump’s insistence that "both sides" were to blame for the violence that erupted at a white nationalist rally, leaving one woman dead, human rights activists demanded that the president fire so-called nationalists working in the West Wing. That group of hard-right populists in the White House is led by Mr. Bannon.

Trump was asked about Bannon's future in the White House on Tuesday during the controversial press conference at Trump Tower, in which Trump defended him by saying that he is "not a racist" and "a friend." Trump went on to say "we'll see what happens" when he was asked by a reporter whether he still had confidence in his strategist.

Bannon also caused outrage among many in the White House and among reporters when he undermined Trump's foreign policy by contradicting Trump's threat against North Korea in a recent interview, the Times reported:

Mr. Bannon’s dismissal followed an Aug. 16 interview he initiated with a writer with whom he had never spoken, with the progressive publication The American Prospect. In it, Mr. Bannon mockingly played down the American military threat to North Korea as nonsensical: "Until somebody solves the part of the equation that shows me that ten 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."

He also bad-mouthed his colleagues in the Trump administration, vowed to oust a female diplomat at the State Department and mocked officials as "wetting themselves" over the consequences of radically changing trade policy.

Of the far right, he said, "These guys are a collection of clowns," and he called it a "fringe element" of "losers."

Bannon's exit from the White House has long been rumored in Washington, especially since Trump brought in Kelly to replace Reince Priebus last month.

UPDATE: 1:18 P.M.: This article was updated with a White House statement about Bannon's removal.