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Trump’s chief strategist Steve Bannon steps down, says ‘going to war’ for US President

Bannon, 63, who played a key role in the electoral victory of Trump last year, became the fourth high-profile White House official to have left the Trump administration in recent weeks.
Edited by: India TV News Desk New Delhi August 19, 2017 8:25 IST
India TV News Desk

US President Donald Trump’s embattled chief strategist Steve Bannon on Friday  left his position, a top White House official said, without elaborating whether he was fired, or resigned. 

Bannon, 63, who played a key role in the electoral victory of Trump last year, became the fourth high-profile White House official to have left the Trump administration in recent weeks. 

The other three being White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, Press Secretary Sean Spicer and Director of Communications Anthony Scaramucci. 

Steve Bannon, however, vowed to keep fighting for the president from outside the White House, as he returned to his former home at Breitbart News. 

"If there's any confusion out there, let me clear it up: I'm leaving the White House and going to war for Trump against his opponents -- on Capitol Hill, in the media, and in corporate America," the far-right firebrand told Bloomberg News in his first comments since his departure.

Over the past few days, there had been an increasing demand from Trump’s political opponents, Democrats in particular, to fire all those from the White House who are believed to be close to right wing nationalists.  Leading such a demand was Indian-American Congresswoman from Washington State Pramila Jayapal. 

The sudden departure of Bannon, a former editor of right- wing Breirbart news website, from the White House was celebrated by Democratic leaders and civil rights activists, who described this as a welcome step and demanded that Trump fire other right-wing nationalists within the White House.  

“White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and Steve Bannon have mutually agreed today would be Steve’s last day,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement on Friday.

“We are grateful for his service and wish him the best,” Sanders said, thus bringing down the curtains on Bannon, who played a key role in electoral victory of Trump last year.  

The White House announcement comes three days after Trump said of Bannon, “I like him, he’s a good man.” He also said that press treats him “very unfairly.” 

The move was welcomed by Democratic leaders, civil rights activist and members of the diplomatic and think-tank community. 

“Steve Bannon’s firing is welcome news, but it doesn’t disguise where President Trump himself stands on white supremacists and the bigoted beliefs they advance,” Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said. 

“President Trump’s growing record of repulsive statements is matched by his repulsive policies. Personnel changes are worthless so long as President Trump continues to advance policies that disgrace our cherished American values. 
 
“The Trump administration must not only purge itself of the remaining white supremacists on staff, but abandon the bigoted ideology that clearly governs its decisions,” Pelosi said. 

 “This major victory was only possible because citizen- activists like you across the country raised our voices together,” Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal said. 

“On Tuesday, Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal filed a resolution demanding Trump fire staff who have supported white supremacists. And today Bannon is out. Pramila’s resolution played a key role in putting pressure on Bannon and the White House to respond after Charlottesville,” her office said. 

 Former top American diplomat Nicholas Burns described this as a good news. 

“He (Bannon) is wrong on immigration/refugees; Islam; trade+US role as global power. But Trump shares all his views,” he tweeted. 

House Democratic Caucus Chairman Joe Crowley said Bannon should have never been given the honour of working in the White House and serving the Office of the President of the US.  “His past work and strong ties to the white nationalist movement are a direct assault on our American values.
 
“But, let’s be clear, his departure does not absolve President Trump of his actions. The Oval Office has become the epicenter of support for neo-Nazis, white nationalists, and domestic terrorists. President Trump must apologise for standing up for hate and must immediately reverse course on his anti-immigrant and anti-American policies,” Crowley said.

(With PTI inputs)