WASHINGTON – Steve Bannon, a forceful but divisive presence in President Donald Trump’s White House, is leaving.
Trump accepted Bannon’s resignation on Friday, ending a turbulent seven months for his chief strategist, the latest to depart from the president’s administration in turmoil.
White House spokesman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Friday would be Bannon’s last day on the job.
“We are grateful for his service and wish him the best,” she said in a statement confirming reports of Bannon’s departure.
A combative and unorthodox Republican, Bannon was a key adviser in Trump’s general election campaign, but he has been a contentious presence in a White House divided by warring staff loyalties.
The former leader of conservative Breitbart News has pushed Trump to follow through on his campaign promises and was the man behind many of his most controversial efforts, including Trump’s travel ban and decision to pull out of the Paris Climate agreement.
— CBS News (@CBSNews) August 18, 2017
But Bannon repeatedly clashed with other top White House advisers and often ran afoul of the president himself.
Bannon offered his resignation to Trump on Aug. 7, according to one person close to the adviser.
The resignation was to go into effect a week later, Aug. 14, which was the one year anniversary of when he officially joined Trump’s presidential campaign. It was then held back a few days after the violence in Charlottesville.
But Bannon had been on shaky ground for weeks, and his standing appeared in jeopardy when Trump’s new chief of staff, John Kelly, embarked on a personnel review of West Wing staff. Kelly had indicated to aides that significant changes could be coming, according to an official familiar with Kelly’s plans but not authorized to speak publicly.
The president had also repeatedly diminished Bannon’s role in his campaign in recent remarks and refused to express confidence during an impromptu news conference Tuesday.
“He’s a good person. He actually gets very unfair press in that regard,” Trump said. “But we’ll see what happens with Mr. Bannon.”
The decision whether to drop Bannon was more than just a personnel matter. The media guru is viewed in some circles as Trump’s connection to his base and the protector of Trump’s disruptive, conservative agenda.
“It’s a tough pill to swallow if Steve is gone because you have a Republican West Wing that’s filled with generals and Democrats,” said former campaign strategist Sam Nunberg, shortly before the news of Bannon’s departure broke. “It would feel like the twilight zone.”