Stephen Bannon is on the brink.
Just months ago, the cantankerous aide who had helped guide President Trump to an unexpected victory was flying high, helping the new commander-in-chief make good on an array of controversial campaign promises.
Some 90 days into his presidency and Bannon is now on the outs — having been formally demoted and publicly admonished by his boss — and could soon fall victim to the former reality TV star’s favorite phrase: “You’re fired.”
Bannon, who had previously worked as the executive chairman of Breitbart.com — helped right Trump’s teetering campaign when he was brought on last August to help him cement appeal among his far-right base and hone his nationalist message.
Tapped with the key role of “chief White House strategist” after Trump pulled off a historic win, Bannon helped his boss quickly make good on his array of campaign promises as soon as he entered the White House. He made sure the boss followed through on vows to kick out millions of undocumented immigrants, suspend travel for people from Muslim-majority countries and deregulate practically everything.
But following the disastrous results or judicial blockages of many of those efforts, Bannon has discovered, the hard way, how difficult governing is — and he’s likely to pay for it with his job.
“Bannon has very much cast himself as a man in opposition: to a diversifying America, to corporatist Republicans, and to the administrative state itself. It is much more difficult, now inside of government, to pursue those agendas,” said David Birdsell, dean of the Public Affairs School at Baruch College. “Even a government being ‘deconstructed’ needs to have people work with one another to get the job done, and that’s inimical to the ethos that has apparently driven Bannon into increasingly heated conflict with those around him.”
Discord on Trump’s end was first reported when Time magazine ran a February cover story dubbing Bannon “The Great Manipulator” — prompting “President Bannon” memes on who was really calling the shots.
Bannon has also feuded privately with Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner — who are both kin to and senior aides of Trump — as well as National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn and National Security aide Dina Powell — whose influence has grown stronger amid Bannon’s decline.
If Bannon is shown the door, it could be part of a larger reshuffling. He could take Stephen Miller — a protégé and fellow travel ban architect — with him. Last week, Trump dissed his chief strategist in a pair of high-profile interviews, saying Bannon was “a guy who works for me” who didn’t get “involved in my campaign until very late.”
The prior week, Trump had Bannon removed from the National Security Council’s principals committee — a reversal of one the most-criticized moves of the commander-in-chief’s months-old presidency.
Press Secretary Sean Spicer, who isn’t aligned with any particular camp, could soon find himself out of a job, too, following his suggestion last week that Syria’s Bashar Assad was worse than Adolf Hitler and that the Nazi dictator had not used chemical weapons during World War II.