White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon has once again fallen out of Trump’s favor, and his job could well be at risk, according to reports by Axios‘s Jonathan Swan and Politico‘s Josh Dawsey, Eliana Johnson, and Ben White.
Trump appears to have two main gripes with Bannon. Firstly, he suspects Bannon to be responsible for the negative leaks about National Security H.R. McMaster to conservative publications such as Breitbart, which was previously headed by Bannon. Bannon reportedly believes “believes the globalists pose the greatest internal threat to the Trump presidency, and could send it veering off course with foreign interventions,” according to Swan. McMaster, a prominent hawk, has advocated for increased U.S. intervention in Syria and Afghanistan, which Bannon believes would be a break from Trump’s ‘America First’ campaign message. These leaks have also inflamed White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, who was apparently “horrified” at the critical tirade against McMaster by outlets sympathetic to Bannon. The Politico report goes further still, stating that “several presidential aides said they expect the new chief of staff to push Bannon out in the coming weeks”.
Even more troubling for Bannon, however, is that Trump appears convinced that Bannon is attempting to steal the spotlight from him. Trump has been notoriously intolerant of people taking credit for his election as President; part of the reason Bannon’s previous sidelining within the administration was related to the TIME cover that portrayed Bannon as the architect of the Trump presidency. While Bannon responded to this by largely attempting to keep a low profile within the White House, his recent cooperation with the author of a book called Devil’s Bargain, which details his involvement with the Trump campaign, once again caused Trump concern that Bannon was attempting to claim responsibility for Trump’s upset win in last year’s presidential election.
However, both reports indicate that Bannon is politically shrewd and more ideologically aligned with Trump than his rivals in the White House, and a brief spat with the President may not necessarily mean the controversial Chief Strategist will be asked to resign. Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee-Sanders has previously indicated that the President enjoys nurturing a competitive dynamic within his staff, and Trump himself has stated that he is not so concerned by “little inner White House leaks” as they demonstrate his aides are “all fighting for love” from him.
Firing Bannon would be deeply risky for Trump from a political standpoint. Several publications popular with Trump’s base, such as Breitbart, Infowars, LifeZette, GotNews, and the Daily Caller, have aligned themselves closely with Bannon and his nationalist faction within the administration. Conservative journalist Mike Cernovich threatened to release a “motherlode” of negative reports about liberal figures within the administration in April, during fears that Bannon would be imminently fired. Bannon is also said to maintain cordial ties to Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), the chairman of the powerful House Freedom Caucus. If Trump were to do away with Bannon, it would signal that Trump no longer wishes to play ball with the