Why Steve Bannon was kicked off the National Security Council: A list of rumors and reports

There are a number of rumors about why Bannon got the boot. Maybe the truth lies somewhere in between

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published April 6, 2017 11:50AM (EDT)

 (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

In the aftermath of White House chief strategist Steve Bannon's surprise removal from the National Security Council on Wednesday, rumors have started to swirl about the deeper implications this will have for the former Breitbart CEO's influence on President Donald Trump.

Rumor 1: He had already threatened to resign because of internal power struggles.

One report holds that Bannon had grown increasingly frustrated by the rising power of Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner and considered quitting due to what he perceives as Kushner's undermining of his populist agenda, according to what five high-ranking sources told Politico.

Another source told Politico that Bannon threatened to resign if he were to be removed from the National Security Council. Either way, it took the intervention of Republican donor Rebekah Mercer to convince him to stay at the White House. Bannon has dismissed rumors of his threatened resignation to Politico as "total nonsense."

Rumor 2: National security adviser H. R. McMaster pushed him out.

Although Bannon has been saying that his removal from the National Security Council was part of a "natural evolution," it was apparently insisted upon by national security adviser H. R. McMaster, according to a report by The New York Times. Even Bannon's official statement on the matter seems to put some some focus on McMaster: "Susan Rice operationalized the N.S.C. during the last administration. I was put on the N.S.C. with General Flynn to ensure that it was de-operationalized. General McMaster has returned the N.S.C. to its proper function."

Bannon has not explained what he means by "deoperationalize," a point that has not gone unnoticed.

Rumor 3: Bannon hasn't delivered and Trump has had enough of it.

The New York Times made one point that is hard to dispute: Bannon has not delivered results on some of Trump's major policy initiatives, from the immigration order to the Obamacare repeal. This would explain why Vice President Mike Pence and Mick Mulvaney, the budget director, have started to take on more prominent roles as Trump's liaisons with Capitol Hill, as well as why Bannon's presence at White House meetings has started to diminish.

Rumor 4: Trump was growing jealous of Bannon — and embarrassed by all the jokes that implied that Bannon was the power behind the throne.

Perhaps the most tantalizing rumor — which, given Trump's reputation as an avid consumer of media, has a ring of truth to it — is that the president dislikes Bannon's reputation as the power behind the throne. "Several associates said the president had quietly expressed annoyance over the credit Mr. Bannon had received for setting the agenda — and Mr. Trump was not pleased by the “President Bannon” puppet-master theme promoted by magazines, late-night talk shows and Twitter," reported The New York Times.


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By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

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Donald Trump H.r. Mcmaster Ivanka Trump Jared Kushner Steve Bannon Video