Bannon lays low amid high White House tensions
Posted August 14
White House chief strategist Steve Bannon has lowered his visibility amid the growing calls for his ouster by his critics inside and outside of the West Wing.
One White House official said Bannon has become increasingly aware of how perilous his position in the administration is, and he has purposefully lowered his visibility as rumors of his uncertain future have ramped up. Bannon hasn't given up on staying in the White House entirely, this official noted, but he has not spoken to President Donald Trump or new chief of staff John Kelly about his future, either.
The isolated chief strategist has been in a dejected mood and has stayed in his office more than usual since he has fallen out of favor with the President again in recent weeks, the official said.
This is not the first time there has been talk of Bannon's departure. Trump subverted speculation that Bannon was the mastermind behind his presidency in April when he told a New York Post columnist that he was his "own strategist."
Bannon is relying now on the same tactic he used then -- maintaining a low profile while his job is in danger.
Officials have noted that although rumors of Bannon's demise were exaggerated in the past, there are serious conversations happening now about whether there is a place for him in the administration going forward.
Bannon did not travel with the President during the first week of what White House officials are describing as a "working vacation" at his golf course in Bedminster, New Jersey, instead remaining in Washington to work out of a temporary office in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building.
The President broke from his vacation to return to the White House on Monday for a brief trip to sign an executive memorandum directing US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to explore ways to investigate China's alleged theft of US intellectual property.
Though the move was something Bannon had advocated, he remained in his office in the building next door as the event took place.
There have been calls for Bannon's ouster outside of the White House as well. Short-lived former communications director Anthony Scaramucci said in an interview on ABC Sunday that Trump needed to "move away" from his chief strategist.
"If the President really wants to execute that legislative agenda that I think is so promising for the American people ... then he has to move away from that sort of Bannon-bart nonsense," Scaramucci said, referring to Breitbart, the outlet Bannon ran before he joined the administration. "I think the President knows what he's going to do with Steve Bannon."
After Scaramucci resigned, the President had a private dinner with the media mogul Rupert Murdoch at the White House. A source familiar with Murdoch's thinking said he is a known critic of Bannon's.