Axios: Is 'Bannon The Barbarian' On His Way Out?; UPDATE: Drudge Says He's Out

Matt Vespa
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Posted: Aug 18, 2017 12:45 PM
Axios: Is 'Bannon The Barbarian' On His Way Out?; UPDATE: Drudge Says He's Out

UPDATE: Drudge says Bannon is out, and that he may return to Breitbart.

UPDATE II: Jake Tapper jumping in on Bannon's exit:

UPDATE III: NY Times also reporting Bannon is out.

Via NYT, Bannon submitted his resignation on August 7, but the events of Charlottesville delayed the announcement. Today is his last day in the Trump administration:

President Trump has told senior aides that he has decided to remove Stephen K. Bannon, the embattled White House chief strategist who helped Mr. Trump win the 2016 election, according to two administration officials briefed on the discussion.

The president and senior White House officials were debating when and how to dismiss Mr. Bannon. The two administration officials cautioned that Mr. Trump is known to be averse to confrontation within his inner circle, and could decide to keep on Mr. Bannon for some time.

As of Friday morning, the two men were still discussing Mr. Bannon’s future, the officials said. A person close to Mr. Bannon insisted the parting of ways was his idea, and that he had submitted his resignation to the president on Aug. 7, to be announced at the start of this week, but it was delayed in the wake of the racial unrest in Charlottesville, Va.

Mr. Bannon had clashed for months with other senior West Wing advisers and members of the president’s family.

UPDATE IV: Here is the White House's statement: 

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and Steve Bannon have mutually agreed today would be Steve’s last day. We are grateful for his service and wish him the best.

UPDATE: Was Bannon fired?

***Original Post***

For months, there have been discussions about White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon. How long will he stay? Will he be an issue in executing the president’s agenda? Is his personality an issue? There were many debates and sub-discussions about the controversial top aide to President Trump. Now, Axios is reporting that Mr. Bannon could be given his pink slip, and that the elevation of Gen. John F. Kelly to White House Chief of Staff was a signal that a massive overhaul of the inner circle was coming. He’s said to have zero friends in the White House, not that he had many to begin with, and that the recent interview he did with The American Prospect only reinforced the notion that he was getting the boot. The interview, to some, gave off an aura that the man literally was at the point of not giving a crap.

At the same time, there are plenty of factors that may indicate that Mr. Bannon could stay, including his ties to the Mercer family and the fact that the former Breitbart executive could do lasting damage to Trump if he were to be cut loose. At the same time, Mr. Bannon is said to be preparing to deliver exacting and brutal punishment to the enemies of the president in what Axios described as “Bannon the barbarian,” even with Trump being irked with this chief strategist for taking too much credit in his White House. Another source of consternation between Mr. Bannon and the rest of the White House staff were the stories about National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster on Breitbart. Then-White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus confronted Mr. Bannon about it, noting that this “s**t” needs to stop because everyone knew it was coming from him.

Jonathan Swan of Axios had more:

Trump has told associates he's fed up with what he sees as self-promotion by Bannon, who did not join the core team this week at the president's golf club in Bedminster, N.J.

Bannon's time with Trump has diminished since the new chief of staff, retired Marine Gen. John Kelly, took over and imposed discipline on the circus around the Oval Office.

[…]

Key West Wing colleagues believe Bannon is an instigator of leaks targeting National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster. The stories have been driven by Breitbart News, where Bannon was executive chairman before joining Trump's presidential campaign as chief executive in August. On Thursday, Trump backed McMaster as "our friend."

Sources close to Trump say he was irritated about Bannon's extensive cooperation with a book by Bloomberg Businessweek's Josh Green, "Devil's Bargain," with a cover that gave Bannon equal billing with Trump.

Buzzfeed reported in Devil’s Bargain this angered Trump:

"That f**king Steve Bannon taking credit for my election," Trump recently told a confidant, referring to a new book focused on Bannon's influence, Devil's Bargain by Joshua Green, according to a source with knowledge of the conversation.

People close to Bannon within and outside of the administration have long worried that Trump's frustrations will result in Bannon being tossed from the White House. Rumors hit a fever pitch in recent weeks, with the elevation of new Chief of Staff John Kelly, and Bannon's renewed open war with National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster.

It briefly looked like Bannon's efforts to survive were paying off, as he reemerged after spending weeks laying low and staying out of Trump's field of vision.

But the latest development in the White House drama — a rare on-the-record Bannon interview with the left-wing American Prospect in which he detailed his preference for a hardline stance against China on trade, said North Korea "got us" because a military option makes no sense, and openly talked of his feud with Trump's chief economic adviser Gary Cohn — energized but concerned allies who worry Kelly won't look positively at undercutting Trump on North Korea and knifing senior officials publicly.

Axios also reported that a White House review notes that the chief strategist’s exit is not a matter of “if,” but “when.”

Bannon, who has run afoul of Trump in the past, is now suspected by the president of leaking about his West Wing colleagues. And Trump resents the publicity Bannon has been getting as mastermind of the campaign.

Many West Wing officials are now asking "when," not "if," Bannon goes.

Chief of Staff General John Kelly has been reviewing Bannon's position.

A recent deluge of media coverage of Bannon — including Bannon's explosive conversation with the American Prospect — have not escaped either the president's or Kelly's attention.

[…]

Why Bannon might still survive:

Trump often sends mixed signals about his personnel plans, and makes decisions — both to keep and dismiss people — on whim.

Bannon, with his close connection to the president's base, is the one West Wing 

official who could do authentic damage to Trump on the outside.

We're told that Bannon's friendship with the billionaire Mercer family, who has been an important Trump ally, is a factor in the president's decision and could be part of the strategist's survival package.

The publication also noted that Mr. Bannon is “unfazed,” but one White house source is quoted as saying, “His departure may seem turbulent in the media, but inside it will be very smooth. He has no projects or responsibilities to hand off."