With President Trump making it clear that Republicans must choose between him and Steve Bannon, reports suggest former Bannon supporters, including his chief financial backers, the Mercers, are distancing themselves from him. There was talk about forcing Bannon out of Breitbart.
I’d note a couple of things here. Bannon is a survivor with tremendous name recognition and respect among conservative populists and the voters. He has a connection to the GOP base, even if it is not nearly what Trump has. Trying to excommunicate him will pose dangers for Trump, especially if Trump falls into the arms of the establishment.
From the Washington Post:
Former White House chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon’s hopes of leading a revolt in the Republican Party this year suffered a severe blow Thursday as his allies rebuked and abandoned him following a nasty public break with President Trump.
Candidates who once embraced Bannon distanced themselves from his efforts, groups aligned with his views sought separation, and his most important financial backer, the billionaire Mercer family, which has championed him for years, announced that it was severing ties.
Even his position as chairman of Breitbart News, a website he has referred to as one of his most effective “weapons,” was being reviewed by the company’s leadership, according to people familiar with the talks — a move that White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders publicly encouraged at Thursday’s White House news briefing.
But it was the rare statement from Rebekah Mercer, daughter of investor Robert Mercer, that hit hardest and, combined with Trump’s fury, has left Bannon isolated from the two power centers that elevated him from a fringe commentator to an office in the White House.
“My family and I have not communicated with Steve Bannon in many months and have provided no financial support to his political agenda, nor do we support his recent actions and statements,” Rebekah Mercer said in a statement to The Washington Post.
Breitbart executives, along with Mercer, who holds a minority stake, discussed pushing Bannon out of the company he helped make famous, according to four people familiar with the discussions. Among their concerns in doing so is the reaction of hard-line conservatives, who make up much of the site’s readership, and also of Bannon, who would be unlikely to leave quietly, the sources said.