White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, who was the head of President Donald Trump’s election campaign, is leaving his position, the New York Times reported on Friday.
White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, said in a 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.”
It’s unclear whose idea it was for the senior adviser to leave. Two administration officials claim the president decided to let Bannon go, while a source close to Bannon said the chief strategist submitted his resignation on Aug. 7. Bannon’s departure was allegedly scheduled to be announced earlier this week but was stalled due to tensions in Charlottesville, Va., between white supremacists and counter, left wing protesters. Trump was slammed for blaming the violence on both sides.
Bannon’s connection to the alt-right movement has been controversial because it includes many white supremacists. While he has denied being one himself, Bannon was the chair of the far-right Breitbart News before joining Trump’s campaign in August 2016. Following this new development, Bannon is “expected to return” to work at the website, insiders told a Vanity Fair reporter.
Earlier this week, Trump referred to Bannon as “a friend” and said, “He is a good man. He is not a racist. I can tell you that. He is a good person. He actually gets a very unfair press in that regard.” But when asked about Bannon’s future in the White House, he responded, “We’ll see what happens with Mr. Bannon.”
Four high-level staff members have left the Trump administration over the last seven months, including Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, Press Secretary Sean Spicer, and Chief of Staff Reince Priebus.