Steve Bannon, White House chief strategist and one of the architects of President Trump’s longshot populist victory in November, reportedly has his mojo back after a period of “hibernation” and is now one of the top voices in the Trump White House — just as Trump looks to take the initiative and push back against those in Congress and the media looking to stifle his agenda.
Bannon, Breitbart News’s former executive chairman, was widely reported to have been on the out in Trump’s inner circle as he disagreed with Gary Cohn, Dina Powell, and other more globalist-minded members of the Trump White House, often putting him at odds with Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner. But it seems those reports may have been overblown or premature.
Axios reported Wednesday that Bannon is back and called him the “happiest person” in Trump’s West Wing.
“Steve Bannon, the proud culture warrior who was briefly and very publicly in the Trump doghouse, is ascendant after what friends call a period of ‘hibernation,’” the outlet reports. It goes on to quote a friend describing his attitude as “not cocky — but comfortable.”
Axios reports that Kushner is no longer warring with Bannon and that Bannon has found his voice in developing a response to Russia and is now pushing ideas unlikely to find resonance with Republican lawmakers, such as a tax hike on the rich, a hardline on immigration, and trade wars with countries gaming the system. Bannon is also reportedly seen as the gatekeeper of Trump’s populist base — something Trump knows he needs.
Bannon, who has a reputation for loving a punch-up with the left-wing media, was recently spotted carrying a New York Post cover calling CNN “the most busted name in news.” CNN, dogged by a number of scandals, including a fake news story that forced the outlet to retract the article, has been in Trump’s sights in recent weeks.
On Sunday, Trump tweeted a short video of himself beating up the CNN logo, triggering paroxysms of rage from CNN and other mainstream outlets. In a sign that Trump has gotten under CNN’s famously thin skin, the outlet tracked down the creator of the original video and appeared to threaten to expose his identity — something CNN later denied.
The move from defense to offense against media outlets could be a sign of Bannon’s ascendancy. Noting that Bannon relishes a fight against the media, Axios quotes a friend of Bannon: “Trump loves the fight, and Bannon loves the fight.”
Ultimately, Axios concludes, Bannon’s resurrection comes from the simple fact that he shares the same worldview as the president: “The biggest reason that Bannon is back is that his worldview is Trump’s worldview. For … all the ups and downs, in-and-out-of-favor drama, Trump is more Bannon than he is Jared or Ivanka.”
Adam Shaw is a politics reporter for Breitbart News based in New York. Follow Adam on Twitter: @AdamShawNY.