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Conservatives react with fury to Bannon's departure

The Hill logo The Hill 8/18/2017 Jonathan Easley
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A number of conservatives expressed fury and dismay on Friday after news broke that President Trump has parted ways with his chief strategist, Stephen Bannon.

Bannon is a hero on the right and credited with harnessing Trump's message of economic populism during the campaign.

The chief strategist had been involved in a nasty tug-of-war with what his allies view as the "globalist" wing of the White House, represented by Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner, National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn and national security adviser H.R. McMaster.

On Friday, conservatives lashed out at what they viewed as Trump selling out his base and surrendering to those "liberal" forces.

"I'm very upset," said Tea Part activist Debbie Dooley. "The deep state globalists won. They forced out Steve Bannon. I had a 'CNN is fake news protest' scheduled for tomorrow at their headquarters in Atlanta that I'm canceling because I'm so disheartened. It's a betrayal of his base. I'll continue to support Trump and his policies but I'll no longer be on the front lines defending him."

There are rumors that Bannon could be headed back to Breitbart News, where as chairman he is credited with turning the outlet into a right-wing juggernaut.

Breitbart has been explicitly pro-Trump since the GOP presidential primaries and has vigorously defended the president through his tumultuous first months in office.

Regional editors at the internet publication made clear that their loyalties lie with Bannon over Trump.

There are some fears among Trump allies that Bannon could wreak havoc on the administration from outside of the White House.

For months, Breitbart has been running attacks against Kushner, Cohn and McMaster in an effort to boost Bannon's standing in the West Wing. The sense of urgency to protect Bannon grew after McMaster ousted several of Bannon's allies from the national security council.

Conservatives react with fury to Bannon's departure © Provided by The Hill Conservatives react with fury to Bannon's departure Now, with Bannon gone, his allies are cutting loose.

"Steve's allies in the populist nationalist movement are ready to ride to the gates of hell with him against the West Wing Democrats and globalists like [national security aide] Dina Powell, Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump, Gary Cohn and H.R. McMaster," said one Bannon ally.

"They should all be very worried that their efforts to undermine the president will be exposed. If they think what's happened with Steve is rough, wait until they see what he does outside the White House," the ally said.

Last week, Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, spoke to Trump, urging him not to fire Bannon, GOP sources said.

A senior White House official told The Hill that the president had been inundated in recent days from "high-level Republican donors and activists" pleading with the president to keep Bannon on.

With both Bannon and former chief of staff Reince Priebus out, "a lot of GOP lawmakers are confused and nervous about who they are supposed to talk to in the administration," said one GOP source. "They both did the bulk of Hill outreach."

Scott Wong contributed.


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