Trump’s comments about Bannon mark the nadir of a relationship between strategist and candidate that paid massive dividends for both – dating back to August 2016 when the former CEO of Breitbart News signed onto the Republican nominee’s presidential campaign.
Bannon provided the connective tissue for Trump’s bare-boned “America First” nationalism.
The travel ban was Bannon’s brainchild; he regarded it as a necessary first step to enforcing America’s borders, making good on a Trump campaign pledge and sending a signal to the world that there was a new sheriff in town.
Bannon’s high profile in the early days of the Trump administration led to the second development: A boomlet of coverage that suggested Bannon was the real power behind the Trump throne.
Then there was the “Saturday Night Live” send-up of Bannon as the Grim Reaper, operating Trump like a puppet.
“Aides said Trump was especially upset by a sketch that cast White House chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon as the Grim Reaper manipulating the president – who was ultimately relegated to a miniature desk, playing dolefully with an expandable toy.”
One former Trump adviser told me last week that he had always expected Bannon to be the first senior adviser to leave the White House.
John Weaver, a Republican political consultant who has been an outspoken voice against Trump, said in an email that “Pretty clearly [Bannon] has been emasculated … in terms of his own personal standing in the West Wing and the gutting of the nationalistic approach he so boldly led.”
Given what Trump has said about him, it’s increasingly difficult to see how he stays there much longer.