The White House Chief Strategist and right-wing nationalist idealogue, Steve Bannon, has “mutually agreed” to leave his position with the White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, and will be returning to his post at the far-right publication Breitbart News.
Bannon has long been considered to be a major ideological force within the Trump administration, pushing for nationalistic and far-right policies, against those whom he calls the “globalists” within the administration.
“White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and Steve Bannon have mutually agreed today would be Steve’s last day,” the White House said in a statement. “We are grateful for his service and wish him the best.”
Breitbart News Chief Editor Alex Marlow said “the populist-nationalist movement got a lot stronger today. Breitbart gained an executive chairman with his finger on the pulse of the Trump agenda.”
Breitbart has increasingly distanced itself from the Trump administration, which it sees as moving away from its extreme-right nationalist positions. A Breitbart News editor Joel Pollak wrote on Friday that Bannon's exit is a signal of the “beginning of the end for the Trump administration, the moment Donald Trump became Arnold Shwarzenegger.”
Bannon, who described his tenure in the Trump administration earlier this week in an interview as a “battle,” has reportedly expressed to people close to him that he thinks the Trump administration is a “sinking ship,” according to the Atlantic.
“The Trump presidency that we fought for, and won, is over,” Bannon said to the Weekly Standard on Friday following his departure from the White House. “It'll be something else. And there'll be all kinds of fights, and there'll be good days and bad days, but that presidency is over.”
According to Bannon, his exit was pre-meditated. “I'd always planned on spending one year... I want to get back to Breitbart,” he said to the Weekly Standard.
“Now I'm free. I've got my hands back on my weapons... I am definitely going to crush the opposition. There's no doubt. I built a fucking machine at Breitbart. And now I'm about to go back, knowing what I know, and we're about to rev that machine up. And rev it up we will do.”
Earlier this week, the far-right idealogue gave an interview with the publication The American Prospect in which he contradicted the Trump administration's “fire and fury” stance on the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, also known as North Korea. He called tensions on the Korean peninsula a “sideshow” for a much more important “economic war” with China, and denied that there was a “military option” for the DPRK.
Bannon has been a major force within the Trump administration pushing for tougher immigration policies, including the notorious “Trump Wall” and the “Muslim ban” that is currently battling in courts, as well as tougher trade policies following an economic nationalist line, such as cancelling the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and imposing restrictions on China.
A former Breitbart representative, Kurt Bardella, told Business Insider that “Steve will do exactly what he has been doing from Day 1 – try to 'bring everything crashing down.' He will continue to use his weapon of choice, Breitbart, to attack his adversaries inside the West Wing – mainly Jared, Ivanka, Cohn, etc... In many ways, I think Steve will feel liberated.”
The exit comes on the tails of Trump recieving heavy domestic and international criticism for his failure to condemn the deadly white-nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, that left one dead and 19 injured after a white supremacist plowed a car into a crowd of counter protesters.