Former White House strategist Steve Bannon stepped down from his position at Breitbart News on Tuesday, less than a week after he excoriated Donald Trump and Donald Trump Jr as quoted in a bestselling book and days after he expressed ''regret'' over those remarks.
A report on the Breitbart website quotes Bannon saying, "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."
Bannon criticised Trump in the bestselling book Fire and Fury, by Michael Wolff, and publication of those remarks caused a rancorous split with the president. His comments, which included a statement calling Donald Trump Jr's behaviour in 2016 meeting with Russians ''treasonous'', sparked a ferocious response from the White House.
Last week, Trump threatened to sue Bannon. Instead of using Twitter as usual, the president issued a statement saying, ''Steve Bannon has nothing to do with me or my presidency. When he was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind.'' (See: Trump threatens to sue Steve Bannon over book revelations)
Not long afterwards, he dubbed Bannon ''Sloppy Steve'' in a series of tweets. Trump's lawyers later sent Bannon a cease and desist letter, and White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said that Breitbart should ''consider'' ousting Bannon.
The president was livid about Bannon's remarks - not just at the insults about his family, but also at his former strategist's apparent intent to take credit for Trump's election victory and political movement, according to CBS citing a White House official and two outside advisers not authorized to speak publicly about internal conversations.
In a story posted on Breitbart's website without a byline, it was announced ''Stephen K Bannon has stepped down from Breitbart News Network, where he served as Executive Chairman since 2012. Bannon and Breitbart will work together on a smooth and orderly transition.''
Bannon rejoined Breitbart in August 2017, a year after he had taken leave from the website to become chief strategist for Trump's then-flailing presidential campaign. He impressed Trump by steering his campaign through its deepest crisis, when the Access Hollywood tapes revealed the Republican nominee boasting about sexually assaulting women. Later, in the White House, he played a key role early in Trump's administration push for controversial policies, such as a travel ban on Muslim-majority countries and the United States's withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement.
When Bannon returned to Breitbart, he initially celebrated the reunion. In an interview with the Weekly Standard that month, he said, ''Now I'm free. I've got my hands back on my weapons. Someone said, 'it's Bannon the Barbarian.' I am definitely going to crush the opposition. There's no doubt.
The president also praised his former strategist at the time, tweeting, ''Steve Bannon will be a tough and smart new voice at @BreitbartNews … maybe even better than ever before. Fake News needs the competition!''
But since his return, Bannon has increasingly felt pressed to choose between politics and Breitbart. He chose the former, apparently because of the effect his campaign work was having on Breitbart as a news organization. In recent months, the former White House aide had actively endorsed several insurgent Republican candidates, including Alabama Republican Roy Moore, who ran a successful primary against a Republican and a failed general election against a Democrat, Doug Jones.
Already controversial in Alabama, Moore lost after a number of women came forward with allegations of sexual misconduct against him. The president, who also endorsed Moore in the general election, saddled Bannon with the blame for Moore's defeat.
What effect Bannon's departure will have on Breitbart remains unclear. After the 2012 death of its founder, Andrew Breitbart, Bannon molded its editorial vision to match his nationalist views. During his absence and under the leadership of editor-in-chief Alex Marlow, the site took what was perceived be a slightly more subdued tone. Bannon's departure may also lead to the website cutting costs, as it had long paid a premium to attract journalists to work for the controversial site.