Donald Trump 'facing growing calls to fire Steve Bannon' after furore over Charlottesville response
Fox News founder Rupert Murdoch has reportedly joined the growing calls for Donald Trump to fire his chief strategist Steve Bannon.
Known for his nationalist and "America First" views and once one of the president's key advisers, Mr Bannon, 63, has for months seen his star wane in the White House.
When Mr Trump appointed him chief strategist, he was put on the same level as the president's chief-of-staff Reince Priebus, a nod to the populist base that helped Mr Trump reach the White House.
Now, the president has a new right hand man, John Kelly. The retired Marine general has reportedly told Mr Trump's top staff that he intends to rein in Mr Bannon, who has been accused of leaking damaging stories about Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster, the national security adviser, and feuding with Mr Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner.
Mr Bannon, who lost his seat on the White House’s National Security Council earlier this year, has not met face-to-face with the president for more than a week and is in a "kind of internal exile", the New York Times reported, citing aides and friends of the president.
Those said to be urging the president to fire him reportedly include Mr Murdoch.
At a recent White House dinner along with Mr Kushner and Mr Kelly, the media mogul told the president Mr Bannon had to go, the New York Times reported.
The president reportedly offered little resistance to the idea and expressed frustrations about Mr Bannon, the newspaper reported, citing a person familiar with the conversation.
Mr Murdoch has not yet to comment on the report.
Several of the president's aides believe Mr Bannon continues to have influence over Breitbart, the right-wing news website that he used to run, AP reports.
Breitbart News, which Mr Bannon has called a “platform for the alt-right”, has targeted General McMaster as insufficiently supportive of Israel and insufficiently tough toward Iran.
Anthony Scaramucci, the president’s short-lived former communications director, said Mr Bannon was harming Mr Trump’s ability to move his agenda forward, and suggested the administration move toward the political “mainstream.”
“You also got this sort of Bannon-bart influence in there, which I think is a snag on the president,” Mr Scaramucci told ABC, blending the adviser's name and the website he used to run.
“If the president really wants to execute that legislative agenda that I think is so promising for the American people, the lower-middle class people and the middle class people, then he has to move away from that sort of Bannon-bart nonsense.”
Mr Scaramucci’s eventful 10-day tenure at the White House ended on July 31, days after he made lewd comments about Mr Bannon and others in an interview with the New Yorker.
Asked if Mr Bannon will also be shown the door at the White House, Mr Scaramucci said, “the president knows what he’s going to do,” and “has a very good idea of the people that are undermining his agenda.” Mr Scaramucci said he recently “had a very candid conversation” with the president.
Democrats frequently assert that Mr Trump sees a political advantage in courting the support of the far right.
Those claims grew louder over the weekend after it took Mr Trump two days to blame white supremacists for the violence in Charlottesville.
Mr. Bannon consulted Mr Trump repeatedly as the president struggled to respond to the neo-Nazi rally in Virginia, the Times reported. In general, Mr Bannon has warned the president not to criticise far-right activists too severely in order to keep them on side, the newspaper said.
In "Devil's Bargain," a new book about his role in the Trump campaign, Mr Bannon is quoted as saying that attempts by Hillary Clinton, the Democratic presidential nominee , to link Mr Trump to the alt-right and nationalists did not sway the voters.
"We polled the race stuff and it doesn't matter," Mr Bannon said, according to the book.