Less than week after President Trump issued a blistering, lengthy statement denouncing him, Steve Bannon is out at Breitbart News.
Breitbart issued a brief statement announcing Bannon's resignation on Tuesday. Here is the statement in its entirety:
Stephen K. Bannon has stepped down from Breitbart News Network, where he served as Executive Chairman since 2012.
Bannon and Breitbart will work together on a smooth and orderly transition.
Bannon said, “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.”
According to Breitbart CEO Larry Solov, “Steve is a valued part of our legacy, and we will always be grateful for his contributions, and what he has helped us to accomplish.”
The announcement comes a little less than a week after the excerpts from a new Michael Wolff book on the Trump White House containing quotes from Bannon criticizing members of the Trump administration and Trump family created a media firestorm. Within hours of the initial reports, Trump issued a scathing public disavowal of Bannon.
Among the quotes in Wolff's book that made headlines was Bannon's condemnation of the "treasonous" meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and a Russian source. "They’re going to crack Don Junior like an egg on national TV," Wolff quotes Bannon as saying.
"The three senior guys in the campaign thought it was a good idea to meet with a foreign government inside Trump Tower in the conference room on the 25th floor – with no lawyers. They didn’t have any lawyers," said Bannon. "Even if you thought that this was not treasonous, or unpatriotic, or bad sh**, and I happen to think it’s all of that, you should have called the FBI immediately."
Bannon also suggested that Robert Mueller would be able to get to Trump and his associates through "money laundering" charges, in part connected to Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner.
"You realize where this is going," said Bannon. "This is all about money laundering. Mueller chose [senior prosecutor Andrew] Weissmannfirst and he is a money-laundering guy. Their path to f***ing Trump goes right through Paul Manafort, Don Jr and Jared Kushner. … It's as plain as a hair on your face. It goes through Deutsche Bank and all the Kushner sh**. The Kushner sh** is greasy. They’re going to go right through that. They’re going to roll those two guys up and say play me or trade me."
Trump responded Wednesday with a statement in which he described his former chief strategist as a political charlatan who "spent his time at the White House leaking false information to the media to make himself seem far more important than he was."
"Steve Bannon has nothing to do with me or my Presidency. When he was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind," said Trump. After blaming Bannon for losing the Senate seat in Alabama for the Republicans because of his endorsement of Roy Moore, Trump said, "Steve doesn’t represent my base — he’s only in it for himself." The statement effectively destroyed Bannon's credibility as a voice for Trumpism, which was how he had tried to portray himself after returning to Breitbart.
Over the next few days, reports that one of Bannon's primary financial backers and a key stake-holder at Breitbart, Rebekah Mercer, had cut ties with him in November suggested that his time at the company was likely coming to a swift end. "I support President Trump and the platform upon which he was elected," Mercer said in a statement. "My family and I have not communicated with Steve Bannon in many months and have provided no financial support to his political agenda, nor do we support his recent actions and statements."
Bannon issued a partial apology on Sunday, expressing regret for failing to respond quickly enough to the quotes featured in Wolff's book and insisting that he still stood firmly behind Trump's agenda. The apology, however, came too late; Trump and his surrogates, including Stephen Miller, had already made clear that the rift was irreparable.
Bannon became chairman of Breitbart in 2012 after the untimely death of Andrew Breitbart. He joined the Trump campaign as its chairman in mid-August 2016 for its final three months and was a member of the transition team after the electoral victory. Trump appointed Bannon White House chief strategist, a position he held for about seven months. He parted ways with the administration on August 18, 2017. Trump says he fired Bannon; Bannon insists he resigned.
After breaking with the administration, Bannon returned to Breitbart as chairman, a position he held until his resignation a little over four months later.
This article has been revised and expanded for clarity.