Rupert Murdoch has repeatedly urged President Trump to fire him. Anthony Scaramucci, the president’s former communications director, thrashed him on television as a white nationalist. Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster, the national security adviser, refused to even say he could work with him.
.. So far, Mr. Trump has not been able to follow through — a product of his dislike of confrontation, the bonds of foxhole friendship forged during the 2016 presidential campaign and concerns about what mischief Mr. Bannon might do once he leaves the protective custody of the West Wing.
.. Despite his marginalization, Mr. Bannon consulted the president repeatedly over the weekend as Mr. Trump struggled to respond to the neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville, Va. In general, Mr. Bannon has cautioned the president not to criticize far-right activists too severely for fear of antagonizing a small but energetic part of his base.
.. Mr. Bannon also has admirers, including Representative Mark Meadows, the North Carolina Republican and the chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, who said that without Mr. Bannon, “there is a concern among conservatives that Washington, D.C., will influence the president in way that moves him away from those voters that put him in the White House.”
And Representative Steve King, Republican of Iowa and an immigration hard-liner, said that shoving out Mr. Bannon would leave conservatives “crushed.”
.. Mr. Bannon, who adamantly rejects claims that he is a racist or a sympathizer of white supremacists, is in trouble with John F. Kelly, a retired Marine general and the new White House chief of staff. Mr. Kelly has told Mr. Trump’s top staff that he will not tolerate Mr. Bannon’s shadowland machinations, according to a dozen current and former Trump aides and associates with knowledge of the situation.
Mr. Bannon’s alleged crimes:
- Leaking nasty stories about General McMaster and other colleagues he deems insufficiently populist,
- feuding bitterly with Mr. Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and
- creating his own cadre within the West Wing that operates outside the chain of command.
.. One of his main sins in the eyes of the president is appearing to revel in the perception that he is the mastermind behind the rise of a pliable Mr. Trump. The president was deeply annoyed at a Time magazine cover
.. Others say Mr. Bannon’s continued presence in the White House is not serving the president’s interests.
“He’s got to move more into the mainstream, he’s got to be more into where the moderates are and the independents are,” said Mr. Scaramucci
.. Top administration officials like to joke that working for Mr. Trump is like toiling in the court of Henry VIII.
.. Mick Mulvaney, the president’s budget director, recently handed out copies of the play “A Man for all Seasons,” about the last years of Sir Thomas More, Henry’s chancellor, who was executed for failing to endorse Henry’s split with Rome.
.. From the start, Mr. Bannon, 63, has told people in his orbit that he never expected to last in his current position longer than eight months to a year, and hoped to ram through as much of his agenda as he could
.. Mr. Bannon’s ability to hang on as Mr. Trump’s in-house populist is in part because of his connections to a handful of ultrarich political patrons, including Sheldon G. Adelson, the pro-Israel, Las Vegas-based casino magnate.
.. He is especially close to the reclusive conservative billionaire Robert Mercer and his daughter, Rebekah, who is a frequent sounding board for Mr. Bannon.
.. has suggested that he might direct his energies at creating a movement to challenge mainstream Republicans too timid to pursue the president’s agenda, like Speaker Paul D. Ryan.
.. Mr. Bannon’s cause is being damaged, people close to the president say, by a war he is waging against General McMaster.
.. the national security adviser, whom he believes to be prodding the president toward possible war with North Korea and Venezuela.
.. Mr. Bannon’s protégé, chief speechwriter and policy director, Stephen Miller, shares his populist agenda — centered around a controversial immigration crackdown — and has become one of the president’s favorite aides.
.. Despite his image in the news media as a confrontational ideologue, Mr. Miller has proved to be a deft operator who has ingratiated himself to Mr. Kushner.