Steve Bannon’s run as the White House’s chief strategist ended Friday, delivering a major victory to his growing list of opponents within President Donald Trump’s administration, including son-in-law Jared Kushner.
The differences between the two, which has led to months of reports of a simmering feud, was laid bare over the past week. Bannon was said to have been rejoicing at President Donald Trump’s press conference Tuesday in which he blamed “both sides” for the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, during a white nationalist rally. Kushner is an Orthodox Jew.
Ivanka Trump’s husband is also a moderate who has donated to Democrats and is at home among the corporate elite as the son of a New York real estate magnate. Bannon, on the other hand, is a former publisher for Breitbart News, which he called “the platform for the alt-right,” an umbrella term that encompasses white nationalists, white supremacists and neo-Nazis. He detests the establishment and has said that he wants to bring it “crashing down.”
During one of their heated conversations, Bannon told Kushner, according to an April New York Times report: “Here’s the reason there’s no middle ground: You’re a Democrat.”
Bannon and Kushner were locked in a perennial battle for the ear of Trump, fighting to win the battle of influence over matters such as whether to pull the United States out of the Paris climate agreement.
It is exactly that kind of squabbling that General John Kelly has reportedly been trying to eradicate since he became the president’s chief of staff late last month. Kelly was keen to gain control of the flow of information to the president and diminish the aides and family members vying for his attention. Bannon’s removal makes that task easier.
A statement from the White House press secretary said Kelly and Bannon had “mutually agreed” that Friday would be Bannon’s final day.
It is a victory, too, for Trump’s national security adviser H.R. McMaster, who only a couple of weeks ago appeared like he might be on the way out himself. Breitbart had published a serious of negative stories about McMaster, thought by many to be at the direction of its former publisher. But rather than ousting McMaster, the stories appear to have backfired on Bannon, with Trump thought to be angry at his chief strategist’s undermining of members of his administration.
Last but not least, Bannon’s ouster is good news for Mike Pence, Trump’s vice president, who represents the political establishment Bannon had so much antipathy for.
Jason Le Miere