“The problem was never just Steve Bannon. It was and always will be Donald Trump.”
That’s how Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) responded to news that Friday would the last day on the job for Trump’s top political strategist.
Others echoed Sanders on the heels of the breaking reports, saying that while Bannon’s departure is a welcome step, the fight against white nationalism is far from over.
“Bannon has unquestionably been a driving force behind the racial turmoil that threatens to tear this country apart. Such a divisive figure has no place in the White House,” Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, said in a statement.
“While it is appropriate that Steve Bannon go, his departure is not enough,” Clarke concluded. “The Trump administration must end its pursuit of policies that promote the marginalization of minority communities which emboldens the very white nationalists who descended on Charlottesville last weekend.”
Echoing this argument, UltraViolet said on Friday: “Good riddance Steve. The larger and more urgent crisis however is that a white supremacist sympathizer is the president of the United States.”
Friends of the Earth also weighed in:
Bannon is OUT! A victory for all decent people who choose love over the hate and racism in Trump’s White House. https://t.co/uaGGH2Dqt1
— Friends of the Earth (@foe_us) August 18, 2017
It is unclear whether Bannon resigned or if Trump, who has of late been under pressure to remove the “nationalist wing” of his administration, ultimately decided to fire him.
The New York Times summarized:
The president and senior White House officials were debating when and how to dismiss Mr. Bannon. The two administration officials cautioned that Mr. Trump is known to be averse to confrontation within his inner circle, and could decide to keep on Mr. Bannon for some time. As of Friday morning, the two men were still discussing Mr. Bannon’s future, the officials said. A person close to Mr. Bannon insisted the parting of ways was his idea, and that he had submitted his resignation to the president on Aug. 7.
Bannon made headlines earlier this week after The American Prospect’s Robert Kuttner published the details of a phone conversation he had with the former executive chair of the right-wing outlet Breitbart.
During the call, Bannon casually discussed administration in-fighting and mocked the White House’s stance on North Korea.
At an impromptu press conference on Tuesday, Trump seemed to express doubt about Bannon’s future.
“We’ll see,” he said in response to questions about Bannon’s status.
In a now infamous speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) earlier this year, Bannon described his ambitious plan to fundamentally alter the American political system. The called the end goal of his vision “the deconstruction of the administrative state” — everything from the tax system to trade deals to regulations.
For now, at least, that plan appears to be on hold.
White House officials, for their part, don’t seem worried that his departure will cause any internal turmoil.
“His departure may seem turbulent in the media, but inside it will be very smooth,” one official told Swan. “He has no projects or responsibilities to hand off.”