Bannon steps down from Breitbart News after comments critical of Trump

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Steve Bannon has stepped down as executive chairman of Breitbart News, the right-wing news website said on Tuesday, after he drew fire from President Donald Trump for comments that harshly criticized Trump's eldest son.

Bannon was quoted in a new book about the Trump White House as calling Donald Trump Jr. "treasonous" and "unpatriotic" for meeting during the 2016 presidential campaign with a Russian lawyer who was said to have damaging information on Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.

The comments drew a furious response from President Trump, who said Bannon "had lost his mind."

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White House Chief Strategist Stephen Bannon speaks with White House chief of staff Reince Priebus before Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. President Donald Trump arrive for their joint news conference at the White House in Washington, U.S., February 10, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon and White House Director of Strategic Communications Hope Hicks walk along the colonnade ahead of a joint press conference by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. President Donald Trump at the White House in Washington, U.S., February 10, 2017. REUTERS/Jim Bourg
U.S. National Security Advisor Michael Flynn (R) and Senior Counselor Steve Bannon board Air Force One at West Palm Beach International airport in West Palm Beach, Florida U.S., February 12, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
U.S. President Donald Trump's chief strategist Steve Bannon (L) and senior aide Kellyanne Conway speak at meeting hosted by Trump with cyber security experts in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington January 31, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
FILE PHOTO: Chief White House strategist Steve Bannon (L) sits with Chief of Staff Reince Priebus (C) and senior advisor Stephen Miller during a swearing-in ceremony at the White House in Washington, U.S., January 22, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
U.S. President Donald Trump (L-R), joined by Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, Vice President Mike Pence, senior advisor Steve Bannon, Communications Director Sean Spicer and National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, speaks by phone with Russia's President Vladimir Putin in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, U.S. January 28, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
U.S. President Donald Trump signs a memorandum to security services directing them to defeat the Islamic State in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, U.S. January 28, 2017. Pictured with him are White House senior advisor Steve Bannon (L-R), National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn, Vice President Mike Pence, Deputy National Security Advisor K. T. McFarland, National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, National Security Council Chief of Staff Keith Kellogg and senior advisor Kellyanne Conway. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

Steve Bannon, Chief Strategist for US President-elect Donald Trump, talks on the phone outside Trump Tower in New York on December 9, 2016.

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U.S. President-elect Donald Trump (R) and senior counselor Steve Bannon (L) hold meetings at the Mar-a-lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida, U.S. December 28, 2016.

(REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump's campaign CEO Steve Bannon is pictured backstage during a campaign event in Eau Claire, Wisconsin U.S. November 1, 2016.

(REUTERS/Carlo Allegri)

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump's campaign CEO Steve Bannon (R) is pictured talking to a reporter after a campaign event in Phoenix, Arizona, U.S. October 29, 2016.

(REUTERS/Carlo Allegr's)

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump's campaign CEO Steve Bannon holds a campaign rally the Reno-Sparks Convention Center November 5, 2016 in Reno, Nevada. With less than a week before Election Day in the United States, Trump and his opponent, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, are campaigning in key battleground states that each must win to take the White House.

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Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump's campaign CEO Steve Bannon (C) listens to Trump speak during his final campaign rally on Election Day in the Devos Place November 8, 2016 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Trump's marathon last day of campaigning stretched past midnight and into Election Day.

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Steve Bannon gets off the plane with US President-elect Donald Trump arrives at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport in Hebron, Kentucky, for the start of the 'USA Thank You Tour' at the US Bank Arena in Cincinnati, Ohio, December 1, 2016.

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Steve Bannon, chief strategist for Donal Trump, leaves after the motorcade of US President-elect arrived at Trump Tower on December 10, 2016 in New York.

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Steve Bannon, (L) chief strategist for Donal Trump, exits Trump Tower on December 13, 2016 in New York.

(EDUARDO MUNOZ ALVAREZ/AFP/Getty Images)

Steve Bannon, senior counselor to U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, arrives to attend meetings between Trump and business leaders at the Mar-a-lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida, U.S. December 28, 2016.

(REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

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Bannon later said his "treasonous" comment was directed at a former Trump campaign manager, Paul Manafort, who also attended the meeting at Trump Tower. The author of the book, Michael Wolff, disputed Bannon's account.

Wolff's book, "Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House," characterized Trump as mentally unstable, inept and unprepared for the presidency.

Bannon joined Breitbart in 2012 and helped raise the profile of the news site, which he once called the platform for the so-called alt-right, a loose confederation of neo-Nazis, white supremacists and anti-Semites.

"I’m proud of what the Breitbart team has accomplished in so short a period of time in building out a world-class news platform," Bannon said in a statement cited by Breitbart News.

Bannon did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Reuters.

Breitbart Chief Executive Larry Solov, in a statement on the organization's website, called Bannon "a valued part of our legacy."

"We will always be grateful for his contributions, and what he has helped us to accomplish," Solov said.

(Reporting by Eric Beech; Editing by Tim Ahmann)

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