Steve Bannon fast became the most powerful person in the world you’ve never heard of. The man behind the Breitbart website became Donald Trump’s chief strategist and was credited with both Trump’s presidential victory and his wholehearted embrace of an America First, nationalist position in his first month in office.
But Bannon’s influence has been on the wane in recent weeks. He’s got into a power struggle with the President’s beloved son-in-law Jared Kushner; despite one of the rules of Trump world being that family always wins. The ‘establishment’ have also gained at his expense. As I say in the magazine this week, the Defence Secretary Jim Mattis and the National Security Adviser HR McMaster are now in the ascendancy on national security matters. The result is a far more traditional, and less ideologically driven, foreign policy than Bannon would like.
Now, Trump is publicly distancing himself from Bannon. In an interview with the New York Post, he has downplayed Bannon’s role in the presidential race saying that ‘you have to remember he was not involved in my campaign until very late’. In a sign that the notoriously thin skinned Trump has been irritated by people crediting Bannon with devising the strategy that won him the White House, Trump adds: ‘I had already beaten all the senators and all the governors before Bannon came on board’. Just in case, anyone had missed the point, Trump continues: ‘I’m my own strategist and it wasn’t like I was going to change strategies because I was facing crooked Hillary’.
Trump, who is reportedly fed up with the infighting that is plaguing his White House, says: ‘Steve is a good guy, but I told them to straighten it out or I will’. This sounds pretty much like a threat to say ‘You’re fired’ to Bannon, unless he pulls his horns in and stops tussling with Kushner and co. It seems that the Bannon era of aggressive nationalism hasn’t even lasted Trump’s first hundred days in office.