President Trump's chief strategist, Steve Bannon, is out. There are varying accounts on how we got here - was it President Trump's decision, or was it Bannon's idea? Bannon called recent reports of his exit "bullshit," but friends say he quietly announced his resignation last week. What is clear, however, is that Bannon has been charting a way forward, and it begins now. Below, we breakdown Bannon's exit and what's next:
Bannon's now on the outside - and he's expected go after the Kushner/McMaster wing of the WH:
Sources indicate that Bannon may return to Breitbart News. The far-right media outlet, which Bannon is often credited with revolutionizing, has been critical of the Kushner/McMaster/Cohn wing of the White House. In Bannon's parlance, this is the "Globalist" wing.
Bannon has denied planting any stories in Breitbart, but, notably, he did not make efforts to prevent the stories from being published.
With Bannon now gone, centrist figures like Kushner are expected to have amplified influence in the White House. At Breitbart - or elsewhere - it's believed that Bannon will work to challenge that.
A familiar story - President Trump grew to resent reports of Bannon's influence:
Bannon has been discussed as something of a Trump "puppeteer" - the behind-the-scenes figure who masterminded Trump's rise to the highest office. "Saturday Night Live" made that idea explicit, depicting Bannon as the calculating grim reaper in front of a naive President Trump.
Bannon's cover appearance on Time magazine - with the headline "The Great Manipulator" - added fuel to the narrative.
“Mr. Bannon came on very late. You know that. I went through 17 senators, governors and I won all the primaries. Mr. Bannon came on very much later than that, and I like him," President Trump said during a recent press conference.
Ultimately, Bannon alienated much of the White House staff, but, from the travel ban to the Paris accord to Charlottesville, maintained a reputation as a kind of master strategist.
Bannon, who has his own billionaire GOP donor support, rejects the Koch brand:
The Koch brothers are worth an estimated $85 billion, and have poured "dark money" toward Tea Party think tanks, global warming skeptics, and lawmakers seeking to gut campaign finance laws, among other efforts. Their influence can be traced in nearly every sector of American politics, from Citizens United to the recent U.S. exit from the Paris Climate Accord.
Bannon has reportedly expressed contempt for the Koch brothers, and his nationalist, anti-"globalist" agenda is at odds with the megadonors and their ambitions:
"The Mercer's laid the groundwork for the Trump revolution. Irrefutably, when you look at donors during the past four years, they have had the single biggest impact of anybody, including the Kochs," Bannon said.