President Donald Trump has fired Stephen Bannon as his chief strategist in the latest high-level White House shake-up, removing a powerful and controversial figure known for far-right political views.
Bannon was a force behind some of Trump’s most contentious policies, including a travel ban on people from several Muslim-majority nations, and has fought with more moderate factions inside a White House riven with rivalries and back-stabbing.
Bannon’s ousting comes as the president is increasingly isolated after his comments following white supremacist violence in Charlottesville last Saturday.
“White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and Steve Bannon have mutually agreed today would be Steve’s last day,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said in a statement on Friday.
“We are grateful for his service and wish him the best.”
A champion of economic nationalism, Bannon, 63, is a former US Navy officer, Goldman Sachs investment banker and Hollywood movie producer.
Its the latest in a series of upheavals in the White House, which has seen former chief of staff Reince Priebus replaced with retired General John Kelly.
Trump then sacked communications chief Anthony Scaramucci just 10 days after his hiring prompted Sean Spicer to abruptly resign as press secretary.
Kelly had been evaluating Bannon's role within the White House.
"They gave him an opportunity to step down knowing that he was going to be forced to," a source said.
— David Harewood (@DavidHarewood) August 18, 2017
Bye bye Steve Bannon!!!!!!! Oh my god this tweet has been sitting in my drafts for WAY TOO LONG!!!!!!!
— Kumail Nanjiani (@kumailn) August 18, 2017
by my calculations, Steve Bannon lasted 21 Scaramuccis
— Jessica Misener (@jessmisener) August 18, 2017
Bannon damaged his standing by an interview this week in which he was seen to be undercutting Trump's position on North Korea. Bannon told associates he thought he was talking to an academic and that he was off the record.
He has told friends he could go back to Breitbart News, which he formerly headed.
The right-wing Breitbart News website is a forum for the "alt-right," a loose online confederation of neo-Nazis, white supremacists and anti-Semitics.
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In recent weeks, Breitbart has published a series of articles making a case for Lieutenant General HR McMaster's outsing as national security advisor on the basis that he is not a strong ally of Israel and that he has staffed the National Security Council with holdovers from the Obama administration.
Critics have accused Bannon of harbouring anti-Semitic and white nationalist sentiments. In a 2007 court filing during divorce proceedings, Bannon's former wife accused him of making anti-Semitic comments on at least three occasions.