Former White House strategist Steve Bannon has stepped down from Breitbart News Network after a public break with US president Donald Trump.
“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 Chief Executive Larry Solov said in a statement on the website of the website’s executive chairman.
Breitbart published a statement quoting Bannon as saying: “I’m proud of what the Breitbart team has accomplished in so short a period of time in building out a world-class news platform.”
Bannon’s exit comes after he feuded with President Donald Trump last week. The former executive was quoted saying that a 2016 meeting between Donald Trump Jr, other Trump associates and a Russian lawyer in Trump Tower was “treasonous”.
“The three senior guys in the campaign thought it was a good idea to meet with a foreign government inside Trump Tower in the conference room on the 25th floor — with no lawyers,” Bannon told Michael Wolff in an excerpt from Wolff’s new book, Fire and Fury.
“Even if you thought that this was not treasonous, or unpatriotic, or bad shit, and I happen to think it’s all of that, you should have called the FBI immediately,” Bannon added.
Rumours of Bannon’s departure from the conservative news outlet began Thursday, when The Wall Street Journal reported that the owners of the publication were debating Bannon’s future.
During a press briefing Thursday, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Breitbart should consider firing Bannon.
“I certainly think that it’s something they should look at and consider,” she said.
The fallout from Bannon’s comments was almost immediate.
On Wednesday, Trump’s lawyer sent Bannon a cease-and-desist letter claiming the former aide had “breached the Agreement by, among other things, communicating with author Michael Wolff about Mr. Trump, his family members, and the Company [the campaign], disclosing Confidential Information to Mr. Wolff, and making disparaging statements and in some cases outright defamatory statements to Mr. Wolff about Mr. Trump, his family members”.
Trump said Wednesday that Bannon “has nothing to do with me or my Presidency. When he was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind.” And on Thursday, Trump said he doesn’t speak to Bannon.
Rebekah Mercer, a financial backer of Breitbart, distanced herself from Bannon in an interview with The Washington Post.
“I support President Trump and the platform upon which he was elected,” Mercer told the publication. “My family and I have not communicated with Steve Bannon in many months and have provided no financial support to his political agenda, nor do we support his recent actions and statements.”
Bannon left his job as White House strategist in August, telling Bloomberg Businessweek that he would fight for Trump “against his opponents ― on Capitol Hill, in the media, and in corporate America”.
“If there’s any confusion out there, let me clear it up: I’m leaving the White House and going to war,” he told the outlet at the time.