- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Former White House strategist Steve Bannon stepped down Tuesday as head of Breitbart News, days after offering regret for his role in an unflattering book about President Trump and his team.

His resignation capped a startling fall for the self-styled populist insurgent who viewed himself as the architect of Mr. Trump’s rise to power and the political soul of Trumpism.

Mr. Bannon said, “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.”

Breitbart CEO Larry Solov called Mr. Bannon “a valued part of our legacy, and we will always be grateful for his contributions, and what he has helped us to accomplish.”

His departure comes after the publication of “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House,” by author Michael Wolff, in which Mr. Bannon is quoted criticizing Mr. Trump and his family. For example, he predicted that special counsel Robert Mueller will “crack Don Jr. like an egg” in his Russia investigation.

Mr. Trump responded furiously to the book and to Mr. Bannon’s cooperation with the author, calling him “Sloppy Steve” and issuing an angry statement last week stating that his former aide had nothing to do with his presidency.

Since his falling out with the president, Mr. Bannon has lost the financial backing of the Mercer family, an important supporter of his projects.

Mr. Bannon on Sunday offered a statement of “regret” that he had not clarified earlier what he said were misquotes attributed to him in the book. He said he still supported Mr. Trump and his agenda.

But a White House spokesman said Monday there was “no way back” for Mr. Bannon with the administration.

Mr. Bannon joined the Trump campaign in the summer of 2016, after Mr. Trump won the hard-fought Republican primaries, to become a top adviser for the general election campaign. He took credit for forging details of Mr. Trump’s “America First” platform, a sharing of the spotlight that Mr. Trump resented.

But the president tapped Mr. Bannon to serve in the West Wing as his chief strategist, a post in which he tried to craft policies on trade, immigration and other issues important to the Trump base.

He left the White House — an angry Mr. Trump later said he was fired — last August after receiving blame for encouraging a violent white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, that left one counter-demonstrator dead. As he departed, Mr. Bannon said he would devote his energies to recruiting Trump-style candidates for Congress.

But in his highest-profile effort on that front, Mr. Bannon failed badly. He backed Republican Roy Moore for a special Senate election in Alabama, going against the wishes of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (and Mr. Trump), who backed Republican Luther Strange in the GOP primary. Mr. Bannon viewed the contest as a chance to defeat the Republican establishment in Washington.

Mr. Moore won the primary, necessitating Mr. Trump to endorse him in the campaign against Democrat Doug Jones. But Mr. Moore became the subject of numerous sexual misconduct allegations, and went down to defeat, the first Republican to lose a Senate race in Alabama in nearly 30 years, and a painful loss for the White House.

When he left the White House, Mr. Bannon said “the Trump presidency that we fought for, and won, is over.”

“We still have a huge movement, and we will make something of this Trump presidency,” he said at the time. “But that presidency is over. It’ll be something else. And there’ll be all kinds of fights, and there’ll be good days and bad days, but that presidency is over.”

Mr. Wolff’s book so angered the president that he had a lawyer send “cease and desist” letters to the author, the publisher and Mr. Bannon. Mr. Trump sought to block publication of the book, but the publisher simply moved up the date of release, and it’s a runaway bestseller.

Rebekah Mercer said last week that she was no longer supporting Mr. Bannon but still intended to provide financial backing for Breitbart. At the time, it was clear there were discussions about Mr. Bannon leaving the conservative news organization.

Milo Yiannopoulos, a Bannon protégé and provocateur who wrote columns for Breitbart, said he found it “very sad … to see somebody who is as well-read, as erudite, as sincere and as committed to his political agenda as Steve written off as an opportunist and an overrated operative.”

Steve is one of those people who attracts hatred from right and left,” Mr. Yiannopoulos said in an interview. “I think he did as much as Trump did to get Trump elected. He had his finger on the pulse of the public in a way that no journalist and very few political operatives had. And they hate him for that.”

He said of Mr. Bannon’s future, “I don’t think this is going to stop him one bit. He is described as a force of nature for good reason. I think losing one of his investors and one of his perches is far from the end for Steve.”

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