WASHINGTON (AP) – Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon is stepping down as chairman of Breitbart News Network after a public break with President Donald Trump.
Breitbart announced Tuesday that Bannon would step down as executive chairman of the conservative news site, less than a week after Bannon’s explosive criticisms of Trump and his family were published in a new book.
A report on the Breitbart website quotes Bannon saying, “I’m proud of what the Breitbart team has accomplished in so short a period of time in building out a world-class news platform.”
Trump lashed out at Bannon for comments made in Michael Wolff’s “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House,” which questions the president’s fitness for office. As Trump aides called him disloyal and disgraceful, the president branded his former chief strategist on Twitter as “Sloppy Steve,” an apparent reference to Bannon’s often unkempt appearance, and declared that “he lost his mind” when he was pushed out of the White House last August.
After days of silence amid withering criticism from his former colleagues and his largest benefactor, Bannon tried to make amends. He issued a statement Sunday praising the president’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., whom he was quoted accusing of treasonous behavior in the book. Bannon did not apologize for his criticism of the president’s daughter and son-in-law, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, with whom he had squabbled inside the West Wing.
Bannon’s departure from Breitbart came as a shock to some of his allies. One said Bannon was telling people as recently as Monday that he expected to stay on.
Inside the White House, Bannon was viewed as the keeper of Trump’s nationalistic flame, charting the progress on the president’s promises to his base on dry erase boards in his office. But Bannon was marginalized in the months before his ouster over Trump’s concerns that the top aide was being viewed as an Oval Office puppeteer.
The White House did not immediately respond to the news of Bannon’s ouster, but press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders last week called on the conservative site – which has been a steadfast backer of the president – to “look at and consider” parting ways with Bannon.
On Monday, deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley said Bannon’s apology did not alter his standing with the president. “I don’t believe there’s any way back for Mr. Bannon at this point,” Gidley said.