Is Trump about to fire Steve Bannon? Former Breitbart boss is a dead man walking

Donald Trump casts doubt on the future of his strategist Steve BannonNewsweek US

Donald Trump has been very trigger happy since taking over the White House when it comes to firing his staff, and one name in recent weeks has repeatedly emerged as the next person to hear those famous words: "You're fired."

Steve Bannon has seemingly walked around with the Sword of Damocles over his head ever since he entered the Trump administration as the president's White House Chief Strategist. And much like the rumours that preceded the firing of Sean Spicer, the same is now happening for Bannon.

In April, Trump was reportedly annoyed at the Time magazine front cover which featured Bannon and the headline "The great manipulator".

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This frustrated Trump simply because it was Bannon in the headlines and not himself, and it also undermined the authority of the president.

As has often been the case in the Trump administration, those who have captured the headlines for the wrong reasons, such as Sean Spicer and Anthony Scaramucci, have ended up on the scrapheap. Now Bannon is another whose future looks bleak.

Bannon has been keeping a very low profile in recent weeks in what has been a tumultuous time for Trump. Increasing investigations over allegations of Russian collusion, war with the GOP over healthcare, a Twitter assault on his own Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the hiring and firing of Anthony Scaramucci, the sharp escalation in rhetoric with North Korea, and the handling of the violence in Charlottesville, are the scars on a chaotic month for President Trump.

Scaramucci, who infamously was the communications director at the White House for just 10 days, felt that Bannon was responsible for some of the leaks that have dogged the Trump administration since it formed in January.

Asked about the story on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert on Monday 14 August, Colbert pressed Scaramucci, asking him: "Is Steve Bannon a leaker?" To which Scaramucci replied: "I said he was."

"I obviously got caught on tape saying he was, so I have no problem saying that," Scaramucci said.

A report in Axios suggested Bannon was behind the leaks about national security adviser H.R. McMaster, something which Trump was reportedly aware about. McMaster dodged questions about working with Bannon earlier in the week, suggesting that there was rift between the two.

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The New York Times reported on Monday that Rupert Murdoch, the acting CEO of Fox News, suggested Trump should fire Bannon, advice that Trump supposedly didn't ignore.

Having him so deep inside the administration long before entering the White House has made Trump wary of firing Bannon, especially with concerns of what damage he could inflict outside of Washington and no longer under Trump's authority.

But the far-right violence in Charlottesville over the weekend could end up being the straw that breaks Trump's back. Bannon, who once ran the alt-right website Breitbart, has come under fresh fire following the attacks in Virginia, as well as other members of the nationalist wing of Trump's White House, including military adviser Sebastian Gorka.

The former campaign chief for Texas Senator Ted Cruz said: "If he doesn't want this to consume his presidency, he needs to purge anyone involved with the alt-right."

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House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said: "If the president is sincere about rejecting white supremacists, he should remove all doubt by firing Steve Bannon and the other alt-right white supremacist sympathisers in the White House."

Trump came under attack for waiting two days to condemn the far-right aspects of the Charlottesville attacks. To prevent the shadow of Charlottesville's events from casting long over him, Trump may need to make his next firing very soon.

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