Steve Bannon’s vitriol against President Donald Trump’s administration and his family have forced him into exile from his financial backers and retaliation from his own party, as some Republican lawmakers look to eliminate any influence he may have over their constituents.
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Many within the GOP have remained silent in reacting to the recent slew of attacks from the former White House chief strategist that were made public in excerpts of Michael Wolff’s book, “Fire and Fury.” However, two members of the House of Representatives that are up for reelection in 2018 tell FOX Business they agree with the president’s decision to distance himself from him and suggested Breitbart News, the conservative news website led by Bannon, should move on from the controversial firebrand.
In his first public comments since Bannon was quoted in Wolff’s book claiming that Donald Trump Jr., the president’s son, committed a “treasonous” act when he met with a Russian lawyer during the 2016 election, Rep. Dan Donovan (R-N.Y.) told FOX Business in an interview he believed that Trump was betrayed by Bannon.
“Bannon betrayed the president. The president allowed him access to the White House and his inner circle,” Donovan said. “He took that information he gained from the trusting relationship and, what I expect the president believed was confidential, gave that information to a reporter,” he added.
Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) told FOX Business that both during and after Bannon’s tenure within the administration, White House officials informed him that Bannon was leaking negative and sometimes fabricated stories about the president to the press in order to publicize his nationalist agenda.
“People I know within the White House were telling me all along that he would be leaking. You don’t leak against your own president. He was blaming everyone else when something went wrong,” King said.
Both King and Donovan agreed that Bannon should be removed from his post as Breitbart’s executive chairman after his attacks on Trump and his allies. When asked if Bannon should be removed as chairman, King said, “I think everybody should move on from Steve Bannon. Leave him out on an island by himself.”
The president on Wednesday responded to Bannon’s shocking assertions in a statement by echoing King’s criticism of the former chief strategist spreading false information.“Steve pretends to be at war with the media, which he calls the opposition party, yet he spent his time at the White House leaking false information to the media to make himself seem far more important than he was,” Trump said in a statement. He also blasted Bannon for attempting to take credit for Trump’s election victory. “Steve Bannon has nothing to do with me or my presidency. When he was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind,” the statement read.
After Bannon departed the White House in August, he vowed to fight for the president’s agenda outside the administration by recruiting anti-establishment candidates as a means to fight Republican lawmakers who he deemed were opponents of Trump’s legislative priorities.
As he moved forward with nominees like Roy Moore in the race for Alabama’s Senate seat, who was later accused by numerous women of sexual assault, leaders of the congressional fundraising committees publicly denounced Bannon and since he took on the president, the Breitbart chairman’s access to campaign fundscontinues to dwindle.
Officials at the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the fundraising arm dedicated to electing Republican candidates for the Senate and the same group that pulled their funding for Moore when the accusations of sexual assault surfaced, turned their attacks on Bannon himself after he disparaged the president’s family and administration. “I didn’t expect Steve Bannon to become relevant in the first place because it’s not deserved. I guess if you back a child predator and lose a ruby red state and then talk bad about the president’s son on the record, you know what’s coming at you,” said one official who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
That same official would not comment directly on whether Bannon deserves to be fired from Breitbart but did say there’s a growing consensus that the conservative publication should return to its roots. “There’s a huge appetite among conservatives for Breitbart to go back to the way it was under [founder]Andrew Breitbart,” the official said.
A spokeswoman for the NRSC declined to comment. Bannon did not respond to requests for comment.
The usually quiet Republican mega-donor and majority stakeholder in Breitbart, Rebekah Mercer, also shut the door on any potential contributions following Bannon’s remarks. In a statement to the Washington Post on Thursday, Mercer declared she would not be contributing to any of Bannon’s future political endeavors but declined to acknowledge his future at Breitbart.