Steve who? Trump shortchanges a relationship

President Trump has taken chief strategist Stephen Bannon down a peg or two in public, but sources inside and outside the White House tell The Hill that they do not expect Bannon to be ousted despite mounting speculation that his firing is imminent.

There's supposed to be a firewall between President Trump and the business he continues to own, which is being run by his his two adult sons, Eric and Donald Jr. That would seem to bode poorly for his actual strategist, Steve Bannon.

The prospect of Bannon's dismissal will bring unalloyed joy to Democrats and the anti-Trump resistance, who view him as an right-wing extremist with a direct line to the Oval Office, and no small measure of relief to moderate Republicans turned off by his ideological aversion to most forms of American engagement overseas.

But several people familiar with the internal workings of the West Wing say Bannon is well aware of that and is trying to keep a low profile, mend things with Kushner and maintain his foothold in the White House.

He described Bannon as "a guy who works for me" to the Journal.

'It would be a bad signal if Trump were to either force Bannon out or let him go because he is the face of the national populism that inspired a lot of voters to vote for Trump, ' Ned Ryun, a Bannon friend and the founder of the conservative political group American Majority, told the Associated Press.

Bannon's occasionally been portrayed as the mastermind behind Trump's administration. "I can't stand it", Trump said during a press conference about a year ago.

While the Breitbart website could potentially turn on Trump, a scenario that supposes Bannon is unceremoniously dumped and doesn't leave declaring victory, it would hardly unmoor the zealous core of support that has stood by Trump through countless political tsunamis.

He has been tasked by Trump with solving Middle East peace, reforming the federal government and is seen by foreign capitals as the quickest, most reliable, way to get a message to the new president.

The emerging wisdom is that Bannon's departure would set off a centrist drift, with aides like daughter Ivanka Trump, Kushner and former Goldman Sachs No. 2 Gary Cohn, Trump's top economic adviser, leading the way.

Last week, Trump removed Bannon from the National Security Council, while Powell appears to be ascendant. However, a friend of Bannon told the paper the president's backlash against his adviser is more akin to "a terminally ill family member who had been moved into hospice care". "I got to work with him during the campaign". Three weeks into Trump's presidency, Time magazine put him on its cover as "The Great Manipulator" and asked if he was "the second most powerful man in the world".

Substantively, Bannon received some blame for the controversial travel ban that sparked street protests and remains bogged down in the courts. Bannon may have encouraged Trump's combative, nationalist tendencies, but he isn't the reason that the Trump "pivot" is a mirage.

  • Larry Hoffman