In the aftermath of White House chief strategist Steve Bannon’s surprise removal from the National Security Council on Wednesday, rumors have started to swirl about the deeper implications this will have for the former Breitbart CEO’s influence on President Donald Trump.
Rumor #1: He had already threatened to resign in general because of internal power struggles
One report holds that Bannon has grown increasingly frustrated by the growing power of Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and considered quitting due to what he perceives as Kushner’s undermining of his populist agenda, according to what five high-ranking sources told Politico. Another source told Politico that Bannon threatened to resign if he was taken off of the National Security Council. Either way, it took the intervention of Republican donor Rebekah Mercer to convince him to stay on board. Bannon has dismissed rumors of his threatened resignation to Politico as “total nonsense.”
Rumor #2: National Security Adviser H. R. McMaster pushed him out
Although Bannon has been saying that his removal from the National Security Council was part of a “natural evolution,” it was apparently insisted upon by National Security Adviser H. R. McMaster, according to a report by The New York Times. Even Bannon’s official statement on the matter seems to place some blame on McMaster: “Susan Rice operationalized the N.S.C. during the last administration. I was put on the N.S.C. with General Flynn to ensure that it was de-operationalized. General McMaster has returned the N.S.C. to its proper function.”
Bannon has not explained what he means by “deoperationalize,” a point that has not gone unnoticed.
Rumor #3: Bannon hasn’t delivered and Trump has had enough of it
One point made by The New York Times that is hard to dispute: Bannon has not delivered results on some of Trump’s major policy initiatives, from the immigration order to the Obamacare repeal. This would explain why Vice President Mike Pence and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney have started taking on more prominent roles as Trump’s liaisons with Capitol Hill, as well as why Bannon’s presence at White House meetings has started to diminish.
Rumor #4: Trump was getting jealous of Bannon — and embarrassed by all of the jokes which implied that Bannon was the power behind the throne
Perhaps the most tantalizing rumor — one which, given Trump’s reputation as an avid consumer of popular culture, has the ring of truth to it — is that the president dislikes Bannon’s reputation as the power behind the throne. “Several associates said the president had quietly expressed annoyance over the credit Mr. Bannon had received for setting the agenda — and Mr. Trump was not pleased by the “President Bannon” puppet-master theme promoted by magazines, late-night talk shows and Twitter,” reports The New York Times.