Top presidential adviser Steve Bannon is expected to leave his post at the White House, according to reports.
President Donald Trump told aides he has decided to remove the embattled White House chief strategist, the New York Times reported Friday (18 August).
The newspaper says it spoke to two administration officials briefed on Bannon's removal. It is not known when his departure will come.
A person close to Bannon claimed the departure was in fact Bannon's idea, and that he had submitted his resignation to Trump on 7 August.
His exit was reportedly delayed due to the violence experienced during unrest in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Bannon, considered the mastermind behind Trump's electrifying nationalist agenda that delivered him the shock presidential victory in November, has seemingly walked under the Sword of Damocles for several months.
In April, Trump was reportedly annoyed at the Time magazine front cover which featured Bannon and the headline "The great manipulator".
This frustrated Trump simply because it was Bannon in the headlines and not himself, also undermining the authority of the president.
As has often been the case in the Trump administration, those who have captured the headlines for the wrong reasons, such as press secretaries Sean Spicer and Anthony Scaramucci, have ended up on the scrapheap.
Bannon was also at political odds with other White House insiders – including Trump's influential daughter Ivanka and husband Jared Kushner – whose right-wing credentials he doubted.
Scaramucci, who infamously served as communications director at the White House for just 10 days, felt that Bannon was responsible for some of the leaks that have dogged the Trump administration since it formed in January.
Asked about the story on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert on Monday 14 August, Colbert pressed Scaramucci, asking him: "Is Steve Bannon a leaker?" To which Scaramucci replied: "I said he was."
"I obviously got caught on tape saying he was, so I have no problem saying that," Scaramucci said.
A report in Axios suggested Bannon was behind the leaks about national security adviser H.R. McMaster, something Trump was reportedly aware about. McMaster dodged questions about working with Bannon earlier in the week, suggesting that there was rift between the two.
The New York Times reported on Monday that Rupert Murdoch, the acting CEO of Fox News, suggested Trump should fire Bannon, advice that Trump supposedly didn't ignore.
Having him so deep inside the Trump camp long before entering the White House has made the embattled president wary of firing Bannon, especially with concerns of what damage he could inflict outside of Washington and no longer under Trump's authority.
But the far-right violence in Charlottesville renewed the pressure on the right-wing populist. Bannon, who once ran the alt-right website Breitbart, came under fresh fire following the attacks in Virginia. Other members of the nationalist wing of Trump's White House, including military adviser Sebastian Gorka, also felt the heat.
Rick Tyler, the former campaign chief for Texas Senator Ted Cruz, said: "If he doesn't want this to consume his presidency, he needs to purge anyone involved with the alt-right."
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said: "If the president is sincere about rejecting white supremacists, he should remove all doubt by firing Steve Bannon and the other alt-right white supremacist sympathisers in the White House."
But in the end it was Bannon himself who appeared to have decided to walk the plank. Having kept a low profile in recent weeks in what has been a tumultuous time for Trump, Bannon, who rarely spoke on the record with the press, gave a surprising on-the-record interview this week to left-wing magazine American Prospect.
In eyebrow-raising discussion he claimed there was no military solution for North Korea, the far-right was a "collection of clowns" and the left's focus on racism would allow him to "crush the Democrats". The end was nigh.
While many will celebrate the departure of such a divisive figure, Bannon the consummate political animal will be free to roam where he pleases – which could mean more problems for Trump.
One Bannon ally told The Hill: "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, Jared Kushner, Gary Cohn and H.R. McMaster. If they think what's happened with Steve is rough, wait until they see what he does outside the White House."