On Friday, President Donald Trump dismissed Steve Bannon, his chief strategist and advisor to the president’s campaign throughout the 2016 election, from his White House post, reports The Washington Post.
Bannon’s dismissal comes after a week of racial unrest, most notably after white supremacists, white nationalists, and Neo-Nazis converged on Charlottesville to protest the removal of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee. There, white nationalists clashed with counter-protesters, resulting in the death of a 32-year-old woman.
Ever since last year’s presidential campaign, Trump has been criticized for allowing Bannon, the former chairman of the conservative media outlet Breitbart, to influence him. Many critics of the president see Bannon’s fingerprints in several of the president’s policies, particularly those dealing with hot-button cultural issues, such as affirmative action, immigration, abortion, and LGBTQ rights.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters in a statement that White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and Bannon had “mutually agreed” that Bannon would exit his role in the Oval Office on Friday.
“We are grateful for his service and wish him the best,” Sanders said.
The Post reports that Kelly, a retired Marine Corps general brought in last month to serve as chief of staff, had been contemplating dismissing several White House staffers, including Bannon. Kelly was brought in to stop ideological fights between various staffers and damaging leaks to the news media.
A source close to Bannon, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the Post that Bannon has accepted the situation, but will continue to advocate for the president’s agenda.
“No matter what happens, Steve is a honey badger,” the person said. “Steve’s in a good place. He doesn’t care. He’s going to support the president and push the agenda, whether he’s on the inside or the outside.”
LGBTQ groups celebrated Bannon’s dismissal. They have long felt that Bannon, who oversaw Breitbart during a period when it was providing negative coverage of LGBTQ issues, has encouraged Trump to adopt and pursue anti-LGBTQ policies, such as the recently proposed transgender military ban and guidance rescinding past Obama-era educational policy urging schools to treat transgender students according to their gender identity.
“Steve Bannon has built a career peddling white nationalism and placing large targets on the backs of marginalized communities, including LGBTQ people,” Sarah Kate Ellis, the president and CEO of GLAAD, said in a statement. “From Day One, President Donald Trump has surrounded himself with anti-black, anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant, anti-women, and anti-LGBTQ activists aimed at strengthening institutional discrimination and erasing LGBTQ Americans from the fabric of this nation. Steve Bannon may have resigned, but the fact that he even held the position of White House Chief Strategist is chilling, completely unacceptable, and will not be forgotten.”
“A radical white nationalist like Steve Bannon should never have been put in a position of public trust in any White House,” JoDee Winterhof, senior vice president for policy and political affairs at the Human Rights Campaign, said in a statement. “His removal was necessary, but make no mistake, the bigotry in the White House goes far beyond one person. President Trump and Vice President Pence continue to push forward the same dangerous and hateful vision for America and the world that Steve Bannon embodies.”