President Trump and his former campaign chairman and chief strategist Steve Bannon, neither of whom is known for much in the way of personal loyalty, lost all semblance of an alliance today in a public spat that culminated in Trump issuing an official White House press release saying that Bannon has “lost his mind.”
Earlier today, The Guardian published statements Bannon made to author Michael Wolff that included describing a meeting between Donald Trump Jr., then campaign chairman Paul Manafort and a Russian lawyer claiming to possess documents that would damage Hillary Clinton as “treasonous” and “unpatriotic,” elaborating later that federal officials are “going to crack Don Junior like an egg on national TV.”
In response to Bannon’s remarks to Wolff, President Trump issued a characteristically measured statement:
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. Steve was a staffer who worked for me after I had already won the nomination by defeating seventeen candidates, often described as the most talented field ever assembled in the Republican Party.
Now that he is on his own, Steve is learning that winning isn’t as easy as I make it look. Steve had very little to do with our historic victory, which was delivered by the forgotten men and women of this country. Yet Steve had everything to do with the loss of a Senate seat in Alabama held for more than thirty years by Republicans. Steve doesn’t represent my base—he’s only in it for himself.
Steve pretends to be at war with the media, which he calls the opposition party, yet he spent his time at the White House leaking false information to the media to make himself seem far more important than he was. It is the only thing he does well. Steve was rarely in a one-on-one meeting with me and only pretends to have had influence to fool a few people with no access and no clue, whom he helped write phony books.
We have many great Republican members of Congress and candidates who are very supportive of the Make America Great Again agenda. Like me, they love the United States of America and are helping to finally take our country back and build it up, rather than simply seeking to burn it all down.
The White House statement was calculated to hit Bannon where it hurts: his sense of self-importance. Bannon has used the “Breitbart News Daily” radio show to boast of his supposed sway over the voter base that elected Trump and present himself as an influential political force who can pressure Trump from the “populist” Right (never mind his failed efforts to get theocratic accused child molester Roy Moore elected to the Senate). Breitbart radio hosts have devoted countless hours to praising Bannon’s alleged power; one even claimed Bannon was the “de facto leader of the Republican Party.”
Bannon has spent the last few months using the Breitbart platform to attack the people he believes jeopardize the personal agenda that motivated him to work for the Trump campaign, including Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump. He has also spent time courting the Religious Right, who have reacted positively to his calls to fight the GOP establishment.