Steve Bannon is on his way out at the White House – but the fiery, anti-establishment conservative who helped Donald Trump win the presidency says he's getting ready to wage his populist campaign from the outside.
“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.
Still, the outgoing White House chief strategist told The Weekly Standard the country would see a new kind of presidency without him there. “We still have a huge movement, and we will make something of this Trump presidency. But that presidency is over. It’ll be something else. And there’ll be all kinds of fights, and there’ll be good days and bad days, but that presidency is over.”
Bannon returned to work late Friday at Breitbart News, the populist news site he once ran that rails against the political establishment in both parties.
He spent just over a year formally working for the president. On Friday, his job with Trump came to an end.
“White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and Steve Bannon have mutually agreed today would be Steve's last day,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said. “We are grateful for his service and wish him the best.”
Breitbart announced Friday that Bannon returned as executive chairman. He chaired its evening editorial meeting Friday, the site said.
“The populist-nationalist movement got a lot stronger today,” said Breitbart News Editor-in-Chief Alex Marlow. “Breitbart gained an executive chairman with his finger on the pulse of the Trump agenda.”
Ben Shapiro, a former writer at Breitbart News, predicted Bannon will go back to the site and "declare himself the conscience of the nationalist populist movement that he helped build.”
"He's going to use that power to smash the president when he thinks the president is wrong," Shapiro told Fox News anchor Sandra Smith.
A source close to Bannon told Fox News there is “no way” the outgoing adviser will go to war against Trump himself. He will “100 percent have POTUS’ back,” the person said.
Another source close to Bannon, reached Friday, suggested Breitbart is gearing up for a fight now that its leader is no longer restrained by his job in the White House.
“Winter is here,” the person told Fox News.
Kurt Bardella, a former Breitbart staffer who now criticizes the outlet and President Trump, speculated Bannon would “continue to use his weapon of choice, Breitbart, to attack his adversaries inside the West Wing.”
Targets, Bardella said, could be Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump, chief economic adviser Gary Cohn as well as congressional Republicans like Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell.
Bannon has also sparred with national security adviser H.R. McMaster and his deputy, Dina Powell.
“In many ways, I think Steve will feel liberated,” Bardella said.
He added, “Now, he will be able to operate openly and freely to inflict as much damage as he possibly can on the 'globalists' that remain in the Trump administration.”
Bannon submitted his resignation in writing on Aug. 7, Fox News learned.
Bannon told The Weekly Standard he spoke with the president and Chief of Staff John Kelly last week about resigning on Aug. 14, his one year mark working for Trump. But the events in Charlottesville last weekend delayed his departure.
“I’d always planned on spending one year.... I want to get back to Breitbart,” he said.
Bannon said he feels “jacked up” as he returns to the conservative news site.
“Now I’m free,” he said. “I’ve got my hands back on my weapons. Someone said, ‘it’s Bannon the Barbarian.’ I am definitely going to crush the opposition. There’s no doubt.”
He added, “I built a f---ing machine at Breitbart. And now I’m about to go back, knowing what I know, and we’re about to rev that machine up. And rev it up we will do.”
Earlier this week, Trump briefly addressed the speculation about Bannon's future during a wide-ranging Q&A with reporters at Trump Tower.
“I like Mr. Bannon, he’s a friend of mine,” Trump said, though downplaying his impact in the 2016 campaign. “I like him. He’s a good man.”
The president added, “We’ll see what happens with Mr. Bannon.”
Fox News’ John Roberts and Ed Henry contributed to this report.