Signaling a rift between U.S. President Donald Trump and one of the main architects of his presidential victory, chief White House strategist Stephen Bannon threatened to quit if he were removed from the National Security Council, The New York Times reported Wednesday evening, citing sources in the White House.
The anonymous sources told the newspaper that Bannon had "resisted the move," and threatened to resign if the change was made, claims that were denied by his team when questioned about the story.
The report came hours after Trump removed Bannon from the National Security Council, reversing his controversial decision earlier this year to give his much maligned political adviser an unprecedented role in national security discussions.
The shift was orchestrated by Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster, Trump's new national security adviser who some saw as at odds with Bannon and his ideas.
The general "insisted on purging a political adviser from the Situation Room where decisions about war and peace are made," the sources said.
McMaster had previously told some national security experts he felt he was in a "battle to the death" with Bannon and others on the White House staff.
The newspaper said in recent weeks that other senior advisers in the White House — including Trump's daughter Ivanka and her senior White House advisor husband Jared Kushner — have expressed displeasure with Bannon, blaming him for back-to-back high-profile defeats over immigration and health care.
The New York Times also reported that the president was frustrated that the media credited Bannon for the Trump administration’s agenda and was unhappy his top adviser was widely referred to as "President Bannon."
Bannon, the former executive chairman of the far-right media outlet Breitbart News, has been accused of being a white supremacist and anti-Semitic.
His removal from the security council comes as polls show Bannon is even less popular than Trump, whose 34 percent approval rating is the lowest of any president in history at this point in their first term.