EXECUTIVE

Trump predicts Bannon will be a ‘tough and smart new voice’ outside White House

President Trump on Saturday predicted his former chief strategist,  Steve Bannon, who left the White House on Friday, will give the "fake news media" some much-needed rivalry.

“Steve Bannon will be a tough and smart new voice at @BreitbartNews... maybe even better than ever before,” Trump tweeted. “Fake News needs the competition!”

Bannon returned to work late Friday as executive chairman at Breitbart News and chaired its evening editorial meeting Friday, the site said.

The former adviser, who had a rocky 12-month tenure with Trump, said he plans to go “to war” for the president in his outside role.

“If there’s any confusion out there, let me clear it up: I’m leaving the White House and going to war for Trump against his opponents -- on Capitol Hill, in the media, and in corporate America,” Bannon told Bloomberg on Friday.

Earlier Saturday, the president made his first public comments about Bannon’s departure from the White House.

“I want to thank Steve Bannon for his service,” Trump tweeted Saturday morning. “He came to the campaign during my run against Crooked Hillary Clinton -- it was great! Thanks S.”

To be sure, Bannon’s campaign message of economic nationalism, which promised more U.S. jobs and better international trade deals, helped Trump in the final months of his campaign defeat Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton in a come-from-behind victory.

However, Bannon apparently clashed with other administration officials and advisers -- including Trump daughter Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner -- who purportedly pushed for a more global agenda.

some critics have argued that Breitbart News is a platform for white nationalists.

Speculation about Bannon’s departure escalated in recent weeks, as Trump’s national approval rating dropped.

And calls for his departure appeared to increase after Trump said “both sides” were to blame for the violent clashes at a rally last weekend in Charlottesville, Va., that was organized by white supremacists and in which a counter-protester was killed.   

Trump has purportedly been upset for months about new stories saying Bannon was the brains and genius behind his improbable White House victory. Earlier this week, he declined to confirm that Bannon’s place in the administration was secure, despite acknowledging his importance.

“We’ll see,” Trump told reporters on Tuesday. "I like Mr. Bannon. He's a friend of mine. … He's a good person and I think the press treats him, frankly, very unfairly."

Trump, who last week also condemned white supremacism and neo Nazism, said Bannon was not a “racist,” and that he didn’t help him craft his responses to the deadly Charlottesville protests.