President Donald Trump has decided to remove White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, the nationalist firebrand who helped to fuel his dizzying rise to the presidency, according to multiple reports.
The president and top aides “were debating when and how to dismiss” Bannon, The New York Times noted. Trump could decide to keep Bannon in the job “for some time,” the newspaper said, citing two administration officials briefed on the discussion.
Bannon helped to power Trump to the White House with populist nationalist ideas that left many critics questioning his fitness to work as a top administration official.
However, Trump had reportedly grown increasingly angry with Bannon, and the chief strategist’s influence waned. A recent widely shared interview in which he contradicted Trump’s North Korea position and jabbed at colleagues may not have helped his cause with the president.
Bannon is considered influential in Trump’s proposals to overhaul free trade deals and crack down on immigration, among other policies. He also sought to reduce the government’s regulatory reach.
Bannon’s exit may mark a departure from some protectionist policies and actions some observers warned could escalate into a trade war with China. It is not clear how much influence Bannon really had on policy recently — Axios reported that a White House source said “he has no projects or responsibilities to hand off.”
Financial markets rose on the news, apparently cheering the waning of his nationalist influence on economic policy.
“A person close to Bannon” said the chief strategist first decided to leave, according to the Times. Bannon submitted his resignation on Aug. 7, but the announced was delayed after violence at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, over the weekend, the newspaper reported.
Bannon’s nationalist positions pitted him against other factions in the White House who held views on issues that aligned more with the mainstream pockets of the two major political parties.
Trump believes Bannon fueled some of the leaks designed to hurt White House colleagues, Axios reported. Breitbart News — where Bannon was executive chairman before turning to the Trump campaign — has published repeated stories going after Trump’s national security advisor, H.R. McMaster.
Press coverage, including a Time magazine cover that featured “the great manipulator” Bannon, also bothered Trump, according to Axios.
Outside the White House, Bannon could use his media influence to lash out at people he perceives as enemies of Trump and his agenda. A source close to Bannon told Axios to “get ready for Bannon the barbarian.”