Fired White House chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon’s exit from the Trump administration had been carefully worked out to be a peaceful, low-key transition that took place around Labor Day, said a Sunday night piece in the New York Times.
However, Bannon’s increasingly erratic behavior — including a free-wheeling call to The American Prospect‘s Robert Kutner in which he bashed colleagues and boasted about who he was going to fire — forced the administration’s hand and he was abruptly ordered out the door on Friday.
The Times‘ Jeremy W. Peters and Maggie Haberman spoke to a dozen administration aides and officials, who painted a picture of a White House united in its mistrust and hostility toward the man that “alt-right” platform Breitbart.com has hailed as its returning pirate captain.
Weeks ago, Chief of Staff Gen. John Kelly began to discuss with Bannon the terms of the strategist’s departure. The months of ideological combat were clearly wearing on the right-wing provocateur, colleagues said, “Mr. Bannon’s physical appearance was crumbling, and his mood swings had become pronounced.”
“The week of Aug. 7, Mr. Bannon suggested timing the departure to Aug. 14, which was a day after his one-year anniversary working for Mr. Trump on the campaign. It made sense to everyone,” the Times said.
Then came the violence in Charlottesville, VA and Trump’s faltering, disastrous handling of the administration’s response. Bannon said he didn’t want to leave at a time when it looked like he was being scapegoated for Charlottesville. His departure was moved back to Labor Day, “although two administration officials said Mr. Bannon sought to entirely renegotiate the terms of his departure.”
However, Bannon’s call to Kutner infuriated White House staff and blew apart the terms he had negotiated with the administration.
In spite of Bannon’s bluster about his joy at being “free” and back at the helm of his “killing machine,” Breitbart.com, CNN’s Jim Acosta said Friday night, “Make no mistake. Bannon was forced out.”