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Bannon steps down from Breitbart News in post-book storm

By AFP 10 January 2018

Donald Trump's former White House strategist Steve Bannon has stepped down from Breitbart News, the conservative news outlet announced Tuesday, still roiled in controversy over incendiary remarks about the president quoted in a new book.

The announcement comes just days after the 64-year-old news executive at the provocative right-wing site publicly split with Trump over explosive comments he made about the president’s fitness for office and members of his family.

“Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House” — which paints the president as disengaged, ill-informed and unstable — has seen Bannon abandoned by financial patrons, condemned by erstwhile allies and ridiculed by Trump himself.

His departure from Breitbart threatens to further isolate the self-proclaimed champion of anti-Washington populism that swept Trump to power and whom Bloomberg once called “the most dangerous political operative in America.”

“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,” Breitbart CEO Larry Solov said in a statement from the company.

Bannon said he was “proud of what the Breitbart team has accomplished in so short a period of time in building out a world-class news platform.”

The New York Times said Bannon’s departure was forced by onetime financial patron, Rebekah Mercer. 

Breitbart said Bannon and the company will “work together on a smooth and orderly transition,” but provided no other immediate details.

Bannon emerged from relative obscurity when Trump picked him as campaign chief in August 2016, just three months out from the presidential election that he was then widely expected to loose against Democrat Hillary Clinton.

– ‘Sloppy Steve’ -He was running Breitbart at the time, a website providing boisterous coverage of the Republican tycoon’s rise, where he had served as executive chairman since 2012.

He quickly presided over the brand of economic populism promoted by Trump and was hired as chief strategist for the White House.

For months, Trump allowed Bannon to conduct open war from inside the White House against established party leaders, incumbent lawmakers and other heavyweights Bannon believed were undermining Trump’s populist revolution.

After Bannon left the White House in August, he remained on good terms with Trump.

But if he was damaged by the electoral defeat of his preferred candidate, Roy Moore, in Alabama, his fall from grace was cemented by “Fire and Fury.” 

In the book, Bannon is quoted as saying a pre-election meeting involving Trump’s eldest son Donald Jr. and a Kremlin-linked Russian lawyer was “treasonous.”

Trump said Bannon had “lost his mind” and through Twitter branded him “Sloppy Steve.”

He has trashed the book as “fake” and its author, Michael Wolff, as “totally discredited author” and has sought to defend himself as a “very stable genius.”

Bannon attempted to walk back from the remarks, telling the Axios news website that “Donald Trump Jr. is both a patriot and a good man,” but the closest he came to an apology was regretting the timing of his response. DM

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