US President Donald Trump parted ways with his controversial chief strategist Steve Bannon on Friday in the latest White House shake-up.
But the 63-year-old vowed to keep pushing the president’s right-wing agenda, as he returned to his former home at the ultra-conservative Breitbart News.
“If there’s any confusion out there, let me clear it up: I’m leaving the White House and going to war for Trump against his opponents — on Capitol Hill, in the media, and in corporate America,” the hero of the so-called “alt right” told Bloomberg News within hours of leaving the White House.
It remains to be seen what role the serial provocateur — who was credited with a major role in Trump’s upset election victory — will continue play from outside the White House.
In comments to the Weekly Standard, he made clear his commitment to the nationalist-populist “movement” that carried Trump to power.
“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.”
Bannon’s presence in the West Wing had been contested from the start, and with Trump under fire for insisting anti-racism protesters were equally to blame for violence at a weekend rally by neo-Nazis and white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia, the president faced renewed pressure to let him go.
Trump did condemn neo-Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan once this week. But the next day he reverted angrily to his initial stance — effectively setting a moral equivalence between the white supremacists at the Virginia rally and anti-racism counter demonstrators there.
Trump’s spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced on Friday that the president’s new chief of staff John Kelly and Bannon had “mutually agreed today would be Steve’s last day,” adding: “We are grateful for his service and wish him the best.”
Kelly, a no-nonsense former Marine general, had reportedly warned he would not tolerate what he saw as Bannon’s behind the scenes maneuvering.
And Trump was reportedly furious about an interview in which his aide contradicted his own position on North Korea.
Since taking office in January, Trump has lost five top aides: Bannon, National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, press secretary Sean Spicer, chief of staff Reince Priebus and communications director Anthony Scaramucci.