- Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon on Tuesday completed a stunning downfall – from President Donald Trump’s most trusted confidant to unemployed.
- After his ouster from Breitbart News, people are wondering what’s next – and if there is a “next.”
- Most believe he hasn’t thrown away the idea of continuing in politics.
Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon on Tuesday completed a stunning downfall in the span of just over 16 months, going from perhaps President Donald Trump’s most trusted adviser to unemployed with bleak future prospects.
Bannon’s fate came at the hands of his comments in Michael Wolff’s bombshell book, “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House.” Bannon was strongly critical of Trump’s son Donald Trump Jr., son-in-law Jared Kushner, and daughter Ivanka.
Over the past week, he has been cast aside by the administration he used to serve, jettisoned by his billionaire backers, and removed from his executive post at Breitbart News. The White House refused to accept his attempt at an apology, and the president has taken to referring to Bannon as “Sloppy Steve.”
Bannon is in exile after occupying one of the top perches in American politics just months earlier. Where he goes from here, nobody knows.
“I think Bannon is probably frantically trying to create some kind of plan that allows him to save a little face,” Kurt Bardella, a former spokesperson for Breitbart, told Business Insider in an email. “By all accounts he was unprepared and blindsided by the avalanche that buried him.”
Bardella said he suspects Bannon “will do all that he can to try and reenter Trump’s good graces.”
“Trump the narcissist, will love the specter of a humbled Bannon trying to win him back over,” he said. “Trump will resist at first, maybe even toy with Steve. But if a crisis engulfs the White House, which can happen at any moment, it would no surprise me if Bannon finds his way into Trump’s outside kitchen cabinet.”
Since departing the White House in August, Bannon has given a series of interviews that were troubling to the administration. Foremost was one he provided to Vanity Fair which was published last month. In it, Bannon cast blame on Kushner for the ongoing Russia probe. The report also speculated that Bannon would possibly seek the presidency in 2020 because he thought Trump had just a 30% chance of making it through his first term.
Bannon was reportedly soon warned to lay off Kushner or face Trump’s wrath following the Vanity Fair article. Even before, however, Trump became “increasingly estranged” with Bannon after an embarrassing loss for the Republican Party in the Alabama Senate race. Bannon provided his full support to Roy Moore, the Republican nominee who was accused of pursuing sexual relationships with teenage girls when he was in his 30s. Trump eventually provided Moore with his support as the election reached its final days.
The Alabama race cemented the animosity between Bannon and his insurgent brand of right-wing politics and more establishment figures in the party. They are hoping that Bannon’s recent flameout is one he will not be able to recover from politically.
“Given the spectacular failure of his Trojan Horse strategy to take down the Republican Party from within, I’d suggest he take a permanent vacation from politics,” Brian McGuire, former chief of staff to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, told Business Insider in an email. “Everyone, but especially our Republican president, would be a lot better off if he did.”
But already, rumours have begun to circulate about what Bannon is plotting as his next move.
‘Washington almost always gives people a second chance’
Three sources told The Daily Beast on Tuesday that Bannon intends to soon launch a “dark money” nonprofit with a focus on US foreign policy involving China and the Gulf region, immigration, and trade. Meanwhile,The Washington Post reported that Bannon told associates he plans to create a political operation in 2018 while hoping Trump will need him again.
In November, billionaire businessman Mark Cuban said he communicated with Bannon occasionally, and reports emerged that they had discussed Cuban’s possible 2020 bid for the presidency.
At the time, Cuban told Business Insider in an email that he and Bannon “haven’t talked” since a meeting the pair had at the King Cole Bar in New York City’s St. Regis Hotel two weeks after Trump’s election victory last fall. Cuban did not mention what the pair discussed then.
“We trade short texts every now and then but that’s it,” Cuban said. “All that said, I don’t have a problem meeting and talking to him. If we want to get past all of this divisive tribalism, it’s going to take someone talking to both sides and trying to find some common ground.”
Cuban did not return an email from Business Insider on Wednesday when asked whether he had spoken with Bannon over the past week. Reached over email, Bannon did not answer whether he had any discussions with Cuban over the same span or if his next venture could in any way be related to Cuban’s possible presidential bid.
Regardless of what Bannon’s next move is, it’s a safe bet that he won’t be disappearing.
“Washington almost always gives people a second chance, but it takes time,” Barry Bennett, a former Trump campaign adviser, told Business Insider. “He should forget about this cycle.”
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