WASHINGTON (Reuters) – With Stephen Bannon, the worry always was that he could be even more disruptive to President Donald Trump’s White House from outside than he was within.
In the hours following his firing on Friday, those fears seemed warranted, as the conservative voices who viewed Bannon as one of their own howled in rage over Trump’s decision to fire his chief strategist.
The reaction was most notable from Breitbart News, the hard-right news site that Bannon ran before he joined Trump’s presidential campaign last year.
“WAR,” tweeted one of the site’s editors, Joel Pollak, who published a piece questioning whether Trump would now move in a more moderate direction with Bannon out of the White House.
“Steve Bannon personified the Trump agenda,” Pollak wrote.
Bannon rejoined Breitbart as executive chairman only hours after his firing was announced. He is now expected to use it as a platform to blast those within the White House – and perhaps Trump himself – when they don’t hew to the fiercely nationalist policies Bannon advocated as an inside adviser.
As Trump’s chief strategist, Bannon fought numerous battles with senior Trump aides and top Republicans in Congress over the administration’s policy agenda.
Breitbart frequently backed him up, ripping establishment Republicans such as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Speaker of the House of Representatives Paul Ryan, blaming them for obstructing Trump’s agenda.
More recently, the site trained its fire on Trump’s national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, after he removed officials who espoused Bannon’s foreign-policy world view.
In recent days, Bannon had told friends he is worth tens of millions of dollars, is a worldwide leader in the populist-nationalist movement that propelled Trump to power, and could go back to Breitbart, which he refers to as a “killing machine”, or perhaps other endeavors financed by the family of hedge-fund tycoon Robert Mercer, his longtime ally.
“Steve has a powerful voice, and he’s going to keep that voice up,” said Sam Nunberg, a former Trump campaign adviser and Bannon friend. “He’s going to continue to promote policies that got Donald Trump in the White House.”
Bannon had clashed with the likes of Gary Cohn, the director of the National Economic Council, and Jared Kushner, a Trump adviser and the president’s son-in-law, both of whom favored more business-friendly, mainstream economic policies on trade, taxes, and other matters.