Stories

Trump: "Who the f@&$ does this guy think he is?"

Bannon didn't bother to go to work yesterday. He knew it was over.

At the end, Trump was beyond fed up, viewing Bannon as a self-aggrandizer who had built a personal narrative as the grand puppetmaster.

  • "Who the f**k does this guy think he is?" Trump has said incredulously to associates.
  • Axios' Jonathan Swan tells me it's no surprise Trump didn't issue a farewell message on Friday: The president can't stand Bannon at the moment. (Trump tweeted a belated "Thanks S" about Bannon on Saturday morning.)
  • But few people are ever really gone from Trumpworld, and we bet it won't be long before Bannon is regularly gossiping with Trump and counseling him.

That'll produce a huge tension: Bannon is more ideologically aligned with Trump than are the other members of the inner circle. So Bannon will be in his head and in his ear, while top advisers are counseling moderation.

A big irony: Bannon got personally crossways with the president at a time when nationalist policies were ascendant with POTUS. Trump agreed with Bannon's formula for confronting China on trade, although he later succumbed to the effort of other officials to dial that back. And Bannon egged on Trump with the view of Charlottesville that later drew such a backlash.

The post-Bannon presidency: West Wing sources expect that with Bannon gone, the administration will be less likely to use trade as a weapon, and more likely to flex military muscle against bad actors.

Be smart: A huge tension that'll unfold beginning this fall is that Trump is more ideologically aligned with Bannon than he is with the more moderate officials who now surround him in the West Wing.

So Steve Bannon will remain in the president's ear and in his head, telling Trump to be Trump. And that's a message this president has never been known to resist.