White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon has left his position at the White House, with initial reports torn as to whether Bannon was terminated by President Donald Trump on Friday or if he tendered his resignation earlier this month.
In a statement announcing his departure, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders remained ambiguous: “White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and Steve Bannon have mutually agreed today would be Steve’s last day. We are grateful for his service and wish him the best.”
Trump reportedly informed senior aides on Friday that he had decided to fire Bannon, but other sources have suggested that Bannon himself resigned on August 7 and only delayed the announcement because of the clashes in Charlottesville, the New York Times reported.
Bannon joined Trump’s campaign in 2016 and was brought on to serve as the president’s Chief Strategist at the very beginning of the Trump administration. He becomes the latest White House official to leave in a relatively short period of time, preceded by former White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci.
Early Friday, a group of influential conservative leaders sent Trump a letter describing Bannon and counselor Kellyanne Conway as two of Trump’s most valuable advisers, a move that seemed to come in reaction to rumors of Bannon’s impending ouster.
“While others may come and go in the White House, we feel sure that with Steve and Kellyanne at your side, you will always hear the voices of those of us who have supported you through thick and thin, despite the efforts by some to ‘manage’ you and your message,” read the letter, which came to light only an hour before news of Bannon’s departure broke.
Trump’s opponents have long called for Bannon to be fired amid fears that he was a voice for the alt-right, which has been vilified as a decentralized movement of racists and white nationalists.