Wednesday 18 July 2018

Bannon quits Breitbart after huge backlash over book critical of president

Steve Bannon. Photo: AP
Steve Bannon. Photo: AP

Ben Riley-Smith

Steve Bannon, the former Donald Trump campaign chief, has resigned from Breitbart News after a backlash over his involvement in a critical book about the president.

Mr Bannon said in a statement: "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."

He was executive chairman of the alt-right website and had left the White House last summer to spend more time working at Breitbart. His departure comes after Mr Trump publicly attacked Mr Bannon when he was quoted extensively in the book 'Fire and Fury', which painted a negative portrait of the president.

Rebekah Mercer, the Republican donor and minority shareholder in Breitbart News, issued a statement last week distancing herself from Mr Bannon.

Mr Bannon had been quoted in the book saying that a meeting between Mr Trump's son and Russian-linked figures was "treacherous" and "unpatriotic".

He also called Ivanka Trump, the president's daughter, "dumb as a brick" and gave a series of other unhelpful comments about the White House.

Mr Bannon's exit from Breitbart News robs him of what he used to call his "weapon" and raises questions about how much he can influence Republican politics.

Before the latest schism, he had been planning to help field a series of anti-establishment candidates aimed at unseating Republican congressmen seeking re-election this year.

It also completes a spectacular fallout between Mr Bannon, who was credited with securing Mr Trump the White House, and the president himself.

Larry Solov, the Breitbart News CEO, said: "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."

Mr Trump had reacted with fury to Mr Bannon's involvement in 'Fire and Fury', written by journalist Michael Wolff and based on more than 200 interviews.

The president said in a statement at the time: "Steve Bannon has nothing to do with me or my presidency. When he was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind."

He added: "Steve pretends to be at war with the media, which he calls the opposition party, yet he spent his time at the White House leaking false information to the media to make himself seem far more important than he was. It is the only thing he does well."

The comments - which amounted to a public disowning of Mr Bannon by the president - were followed by criticism from Republican figures previously close to the former adviser.

Ms Mercer, a major financial supporter of Mr Trump and Mr Bannon, issued a statement shortly afterwards saying: "I support President Trump and the platform upon which he was elected.

"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."

It is not clear whether Mr Bannon, at the heart of Mr Trump's administration less than a year ago, will continue his attempt to unseat incumbent Republicans.

© Daily Telegraph, London

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