After the abrupt departures of the White House press secretary and chief of staff, political insiders are now questioning whether chief strategist Steve Bannon will be the next White House aide to go.
One White House official told the New York Times in a story on Saturday that Trump has considered giving Bannon the boot. House Freedom Caucus chairman Mark Meadows was one of several prominent conservatives to warn Trump on Friday that firing Bannon would be off-putting to Trump’s base, according to the NYT.
President Trump invited further speculation about Bannon’s job security (or lack thereof) with a tweet Saturday evening.
“I love reading about all of the ‘geniuses’ who were so instrumental in my election success,” Trump wrote. “Problem is, most don’t exist.” Some journalists interpreted the tweet as a shot at Bannon, who is widely considered to be one of the driving forces behind Trump’s 2016 electoral victory, although others suggested that the tweet could be a reference to recently ousted chief of staff Reince Preibus.
Translation: “I haven’t forgotten that TIME cover Bannon did.” https://t.co/9CPj9CfMPJ
— Tim O’Brien (@TimOBrien) July 29, 2017
Did he just pick up @JoshuaGreen‘s book about Bannon? https://t.co/N6j95XlDJs
— Ben Terris (@bterris) July 29, 2017
Bannon can ya hear me …. https://t.co/Ffy3d5xaVP
— Ben White (@morningmoneyben) July 29, 2017
So, Bannon? https://t.co/QFu2U8UG7L
— Greg Krieg (@GregJKrieg) July 29, 2017
Trump’s tweet echoed an interview he gave to the New York Post’s Michael Goodwin in April, in which Trump downplayed Bannon’s role in his electoral victory.
“I like Steve, but you have to remember he was not involved in my campaign until very late,” Trump said at the time. “I had already beaten all the senators and all the governors, and I didn’t know Steve. I’m my own strategist and it wasn’t like I was going to change strategies because I was facing crooked Hillary.”
Bannon’s influence on President Trump has seriously diminished since the beginning of the administration, when Bannon’s sway with Trump earned him the nickname “President Bannon” in the media.
Trump’s hiring of Anthony Scaramucci as White House communications director was an indicator of Bannon’s current lack of influence. Bannon was reported to have lobbied intensely against Trump’s decision to hire Scaramucci.
In his first week on the job, Scaramucci ripped Bannon during a phone call with a writer at the New Yorker. “I’m not Steve Bannon, I’m not trying to suck my own cock,” Scaramucci said. “I’m not trying to build my own brand off the fucking strength of the President. I’m here to serve the country.”
Bannon has seen his role shrink drastically since losing an internal power struggle more than three months ago to White House aide Jared Kushner, who is also Trump’s son-in-law.
Trump’s forcing out of Preibus was another loss for Bannon, who was reported to have allied with Preibus in recent months against Kushner and the more moderate factions of the Trump White House.