Bannon is ‘Going Nuclear’

Rosie Gray, The Atlantic, August 18, 2017

Trump and Bannon

Donald Trump talks to Steve Bannon (Credit Image: © Carlos Barria/Reuters via ZUMA Press)

[Editor’s note: Steven Bannon will now officially be rejoining Breitbart. Though this was written before that development, it is still an excellent guide to Mr. Bannon’s time in the White House, and what he may do once he regains the reigns of his old website.]

In firing Steve Bannon, President Trump has lost his chief ideologue, the man who channeled his base and advocated for the populist-nationalist policies that helped propel Trump to victory.

But he has gained an unpredictable and potentially troublesome outside ally who has long experience running a media organization, and an even longer list of enemies. “Steve is now unchained,” said a source close to Bannon. “Fully unchained.”

“He’s going nuclear,” said another friend. “You have no idea. This is gonna be really fucking bad.”

Bannon had in recent days mused about leaving, according to people who have spoken with him; he has expressed to friends that he feels the administration is failing and is a sinking ship. And last week, he told people in a meeting that he would have 10 times more influence outside the White House than inside it.

Sources close to Bannon say he is likely to go back to Breitbart News, the right-wing website he ran before joining the Trump campaign last year. He met with Alex Marlow, Breitbart’s editor in chief, on Sunday and Monday, according to a source close to Bannon.

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Already, Breitbart is on a war footing. “It may turn out to be the beginning of the end for the Trump administration, the moment Donald Trump became Arnold Schwarzenegger,” editor Joel Pollak wrote on Friday, referring to the actor-turned-California governor, who won office as a populist outsider, and exited with a 23 percent approval rating.

Bannon’s next steps are being worked out with Robert and Rebekah Mercer, the billionaire Republican donors who have been some of Trump’s most important supporters and Bannon’s consistent patrons. Two of Bannon’s friends told me Bannon met with Bob Mercer this week in New York while Trump was in town.

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Kushner as “the weak link” in the White House when it comes to the investigation.

Bannon’s animus towards the “globalists” in the administration is well known. Now, from the outside, he no longer has any reason to play nice.

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Apart from its impact on the broader political landscape, Bannon’s exit will be extremely consequential to the inner workings of the White House, which has been marked by infighting between his nationalist faction and the more moderate influences who have been brought in. In his departure, the nationalists lose their leader while some of Trump’s key campaign promises—the border wall, for example—still go unfulfilled.

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