Steve Bannon, US President Donald Trump’s chief strategist, has become the latest high-profile figure in the administration whose role has come to an abrupt end.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders confirmed that Bannon would no longer be showing up to work.
“White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and Steve Bannon have mutually agreed today would be Steve’s last day,” Sanders said in a statement on Friday. “We are grateful for his service and wish him the best.”
Since taking office in January, Trump has lost five top aides: Bannon, National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, press secretary Sean Spicer, chief of staff Reince Priebus and communications director Anthony Scaramucci.
The New York Times earlier reported what it termed as Bannon’s apparent dismissal, citing sources.
The development comes as the White House reels from the fallout over Trump’s response to a violent white supremacist rally in Charlottesville on August 12.
Bannon’s critics label him a white supremacist.
The former head of far-right outlet Breitbart News is described as being the nucleus of one of several competing power centres in what has been a chaotic White House.
White House clashes
He repeatedly clashed with other top White House advisers and often ran afoul of the president himself.
Bannon offered his resignation to Trump on August 7, according to one person close to the adviser, AP reported.
The resignation was to go into effect a week later, August 14, which was the one year anniversary of when he officially joined Trump’s presidential campaign.
It was then held back a few days after the violence in Charlottesville.
But Bannon had been on shaky ground for weeks, and his standing appeared in jeopardy when Trump’s new chief of staff, Kelly, embarked on a personnel review of West Wing staff.
Kelly had indicated to aides that significant changes could be coming, according to an official familiar with Kelly’s plans but not authorised to speak publicly.
The president had also repeatedly diminished Bannon’s role in his campaign in recent remarks and refused to express confidence during an impromptu news conference Tuesday.
“He’s a good person. He actually gets very unfair press in that regard,” Trump said. “But we’ll see what happens with Mr. Bannon.”
The decision whether to drop Bannon was more than just a personnel matter. The media guru is viewed in some circles as Trump’s connection to his base and the protector of Trump’s disruptive, conservative agenda.
— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) August 18, 2017
“It’s a tough pill to swallow if Steve is gone because you have a Republican West Wing that’s filled with generals and Democrats,” said former campaign strategist Sam Nunberg, shortly before the news of Bannon’s departure broke. “It would feel like the twilight zone.”
Al Jazeera’s Kimberly Halkett, reporting from Maryland, said: “A number of things could have come into play. A lot might have to do with an interview that Bannon gave to media where he criticised the approach that the president had taken in terms of North Korea. We are learning the president was furious with comments there.”
She added that another factor might be more closely related to Bannon’s perceived white supremacist ideology and its effect on Trump’s crashing popularity.
“The president has been pretty unhappy with the coverage he is receiving over his support of [white] nationalists,” Halkett said. “Given Bannon has been the architect of sentiment and ideologies, it is being speculated that Trump is looking for someone to blame.”