Well, it finally happened.
President Donald Trump’s chief strategist Steve Bannon is OUT.
According to a senior White House official, Bannon had resigned on August 7 amid months-long tension between him and the president.
That resignation was set to be effective August 14, but the violent white nationalist rally in Charlotteville, Virginia and subsequent fall-out from Trump’s comments in its wake delayed Bannon’s departure.
Bannon also is known to have had serious clashes with Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, as well as National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn.
After General John Kelly replaced outsed Chief-of-Staff Reince Priebus last month, Kelly was determined to review White House staff for their appropriateness to the administration. Bannon was apparently on Kelly’s list of questionable presidential confidantes.
In recent remarks, the president repeatedly down-played Bannon’s role in his campaign. During an impromptu news conference Tuesday, Trump said about Bannon:
“He’s a good person. He actually gets very unfair press in that regard. But we’ll see what happens with Mr. Bannon.”
Former head of Breitbart news, Steve Bannon was the mastermind behind Trump’s populist message, and the primary architect of the Trump campaign for the White House. Some even portrayed him as a somewhat “shadow president,” feeding Trump the controversial messages and policy positions that have characterized the nascent presidency, such as the Muslim travel ban and the decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate agreement.
This often challenged Trump’s authority in the public’s eye.
A recent Time magazine cover labeled Bannon “The Great Manipulator.”
Former campaign strategist Sam Nunberg said just before news of Bannon’s departure broke:
“It’s a tough pill to swallow if Steve is gone because you have a Republican West Wing that’s filled with generals and Democrats. It would feel like the twilight zone.”
According to Vox, some things are likely to change now, but some are not.
Bannon wasn’t Trump’s brain although they shared similar interests.
Josh Green, author of the recent book Devil’s Bargain, said:
“Both of them had a real talent for kind of stoking resentment and channeling that resentment into a political force that they could direct at more mainstream Republicans and at Democrats.”
“The two men also shared a disdain for the GOP establishment. They had little use for Republican orthodoxy on economic issues (Bannon and Trump are both harsh critics of recent multilateral trade deals), and for what they viewed as an overly politically correct approach to campaigning.”
Bannon dominated the Trump administration early on, then lost influence.
According to Vox:
“The travel ban fiasco defined the beginning of the Trump presidency, overshadowing everything else he tried to do and poisoning any attempts at outreach he might have hoped to make.
It also fed a narrative that Bannon, not Trump, was truly pulling the strings in the White House — a narrative the president didn’t like very much. So Bannon was reined in somewhat. There was to be no more blindsiding the rest of the administration with monumental executive orders. He was now clearly one adviser among many.”
Bannon spent the past few months battling his rivals in the administration.
On trade Bannon, he wanted tougher measures against China, but National Economic Council director Gary Cohn, former Goldman Sachs COO, opposed this.
About this, Bannon said in an interview:
“That’s a fight I fight every day here.”
On foreign policy, Bannon fought with National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster.
He opposed Trump’s April Syria strike, and argued against McMaster’s recommendations to send more troops to Afghanistan. He also claimed to be using his influence to eliminate lower-level State and Defense Department officials he dislikes.
He told Robert Kuttner in The American Prospect:
“I’m changing out people at East Asian Defense; I’m getting hawks in. I’m getting Susan Thornton [acting head of East Asian and Pacific Affairs] out at State.”
Bannon’s departure will likely change the administration in mostly subtle ways.
“While President Trump may share Bannon’s instincts on many matters, he has little interest in policy details or lower-level personnel appointments. Bannon was greatly interested in both, and worked hard to try to ensure that they complied with his “nationalist” views.
“Trump could get someone else to fill a similar role (Stephen Miller seems an obvious candidate). But it’s also possible that, beyond Trump’s tweets and top-level decisions, the administration could drift in a more establishment-oriented direction on some fronts without Bannon there to wage lower-profile fights. Who will keep pushing against the tide on trade policy, or try to veto lower-level agency appointments?”
With an administration hemorrhaging staff, fending off accusations of racism after this weekend’s deadly protest in Charlottesville, Virginia, and openly at loggerheads with congressional Republicans, can the Trump administration survive much longer?
Don’t forget, it’s still under investigation for possibly collusion with Russia.
Featured Image: Screenshot Via YouTube Video.