Buh Bye, Bannon

Paleo-right nationalist and white supremacy sympathizer Steve Bannon was canned by Trump on Friday, something that had been rumored to happen several times since the inauguration. But talk had really heated up lately amid reports that Trump blamed Bannon for leaks to the press.


“White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and Steve Bannon have mutually agreed today would be Steve’s last day,” Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, said in a statement. “We are grateful for his service and wish him the best.”…

His removal is a victory for Mr. Kelly, a retired Marine Corps general whose mission is to impose discipline on White House personnel. A caustic presence in a chaotic West Wing, Mr. Bannon frequently clashed with other aides as they fought over trade, the war in Afghanistan, taxes, immigration and the role of government.

While the “Kelly wanted him out” story is plausible, I’m not so sure it’s true. I mean, I don’t doubt that Kelly wanted Bannon out, as the two of them could hardly be more different both in policy preferences and temperament, but that doesn’t mean that’s really why it happened. It may just be that Trump’s mercurial mood swing against Bannon just happened to coincide with Kelly’s desire to have him out.

Bannon immediately took back his job at Breitbart as “executive chairman” and now everyone is wondering whether he will use that platform to attack Trump and reveal things that Trump wouldn’t want revealed. And there are already signs pointing to exactly that. Axios reported almost immediately that Bannon had already had a meeting with the Mercers, the billionaire father and daughter team that funds that website and has been a huge supporter of Trump’s as well, and that he is “preparing for war” on the “globalists” in the White House, saying, “Get ready for Bannon the barbarian.” So this could be a lot of fun to watch.

The other question is what happens to those still in the White House who were brought in by Bannon and share his far-right nationalist, if not outright neo-Nazi, bent? Sebastian Gorka and Stephen Miller come immediately to mind. I’m sure if Kelly had his way, they’d be gone too. If he manages to push them out as well, that will be a signal that he has far more influence than I thought possible when he took over from Priebus.

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