Did John Kelly Fire Steve Bannon? Trump's New Chief of Staff Was Not A Fan
Following the bombshell scoop that Donald Trump was removing Steve Bannon from his position as White House chief strategist, the White House released a statement. Current Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in the statement: "White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and Steve Bannon have mutually agreed today would be Steve's last day. We are grateful for his service and wish him the best."
According to The New York Times and Reuters, there have been conflicting reports about the nature of Bannon's departure. Two anonymous administration officials told the Times that earlier on Friday, Trump had announced that he was planning to remove Bannon. A person close to Bannon, however, told the Times that Bannon had actually filed his resignation on Aug. 7 — prior to a gathering of white nationalists in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Saturday.
Reuters, meanwhile, cited a source close to Bannon as saying that the chief strategist intended to be fired.
"Bannon is going to make them fire him," the source told Reuters. "He's not going to officially resign. He’s still been doing the work. He’s been working on projects."
Although Sanders said in her statement that Kelly and Bannon had mutually agreed on Bannon's departure, it is still unclear whether they came to this decision on Aug. 7, or after Trump spoke to his senior aides. In fact, a source told CNN that Bannon was given the option of resigning but was ultimately pushed out.
Bannon did not have many allies left at the White House following Reince Priebus' departure, and Kelly — Priebus' replacement as chief of staff — has reportedly been scrutinizing Bannon's role in the White House after hearing numerous complaints about him from other aides. Four White House officials reportedly told Kelly that they suspected Bannon of orchestrating media attacks against Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster, Trump's national security adviser. McMaster has also accused Bannon of being responsible for these attacks, but Bannon — who has had a number of policy disagreements with McMaster — has denied these allegations.
Two senior officials who support McMaster told Reuters earlier this week that Kelly felt the feud between Bannon and McMaster reflected poorly on him, given that he was brought on as chief of staff to restore order. Kelly reportedly called for an "end to the drama," senior officials told the Daily Beast.
According to the Daily Beast, many people who opposed Bannon saw Kelly as an ally, even though Bannon himself seemed unconcerned by reports that Kelly wanted to fire him. Nevertheless, whether Kelly and the Trump administration actually did fire Bannon or he left of his own accord, it seems that many of his fellow aides will not be lamenting his departure.