(WASHINGTON) — President Trump is cheering his former chief strategist Steve Bannon’s return to leading the conservative media outlet Breitbart News after his forced resignation from the White House.
Trump tweeted from his Bedminster, New Jersey, golf club Saturday that Bannon may be “even better than ever before” in his return to Breitbart.
Steve Bannon will be a tough and smart new voice at @BreitbartNews…maybe even better than ever before. Fake News needs the competition!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 19, 2017
The White House has not said whether President Trump and Bannon have spoken since Bannon was forced to resign from his post Friday as chief strategist.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said the departure, effective Friday, was “mutually agreed” to by Bannon and chief of staff John Kelly.
“We are grateful for his service and wish him the best,” Sanders added in a statement to ABC News.
A source close to Trump told ABC News that it was ultimately the president’s decision to dismiss Bannon. The message was delivered Friday morning from Kelly, who was with the president at his golf resort in Bedminster. Bannon was at the White House when he received the call that it was time for him to leave.
Bannon had submitted a letter of resignation to the president earlier this month with an effective date of Monday, Aug. 14, according to sources close to both Bannon and Trump. But amid the fallout from Trump’s controversial response to the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, last weekend and earlier this week, Bannon’s Aug. 14 resignation date came and went as the president considered Bannon’s future, sources said. Meanwhile, several top Trump aides continued to make the case that he needed to go.
Prior to joining the Trump administration, Bannon served as executive chairman of Breitbart News. On Friday evening, in the top story on its homepage, Breitbart announced Bannon’s return to the media company to again serve as executive chairman.
” ‘Populist Hero’ Stephen K. Bannon Returns Home to Breitbart,” reads the headline.
Bannon has clashed with virtually every top official in the White House. Atop his list of in-house detractors were Kelly, senior adviser Jared Kushner and national security adviser Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster.
One of McMaster’s first moves was to remove Bannon from his seat at the National Security Council, a move that angered him. And his appointment as the council’s chief political strategist was hugely controversial when it was first announced via executive order at the start of the administration.
Over the weekend, McMaster refused to say whether he would continue to work with Bannon.
Bannon joined the Trump campaign in August. He would become known as a fearless and critically influential adviser to the president, but has now become the latest high-profile aide to leave the White House. On July 21, press secretary Sean Spicer resigned, followed by chief of staff Reince Priebus. White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci was fired a few days later, serving just 11 days in that role.
On Tuesday, the president told reporters at Trump Tower that Bannon was a “good man” and “not a racist.”
“I like Mr. Bannon. He’s a friend of mine. But Mr. Bannon came on very late. You know that. I went through 17 senators, governors — and I won all the primaries. Mr. Bannon came on very much later than that,” Trump said before adding, “But we’ll see what happens with Mr. Bannon.”
Trump had grown increasingly frustrated with Bannon in recent weeks, according to one senior White House official, and dissatisfaction from within Trump’s inner circle was compounded Wednesday by his interview in American Prospect magazine, in which he seemed to undercut the president on North Korea.
“There’s no military solution here. They got us,” Bannon told the magazine.
In an interview with Bloomberg News, Bannon confirmed rumors shared with ABC News by a source close to the former chief strategist that he would continue to work in the president’s interests.
“If there’s any confusion out there, let me clear it up: I’m leaving the White House and going to war for Trump against his opponents — on Capitol Hill, in the media and in corporate America,” Bannon told Bloomberg News.
After news of Bannon’s demise first went viral, Breitbart’s editor tweeted an ominous message: “#WAR.”
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