'Washington almost always gives people a second chance': Everyone's wondering what Steve Bannon will do next after his stunning downfall

 

  • Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon on Tuesday completed a stunning downfall — from President Donald Trump's most trusted confidant to unemployed.
  • After his ouster from Breitbart News, people are wondering what's next — and if there is a "next."
  • Most believe he hasn't thrown away the idea of continuing in politics.


Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon on Tuesday completed a stunning downfall in the span of just over 16 months, going from perhaps President Donald Trump's most trusted adviser to unemployed with bleak future prospects.

Bannon's fate came at the hands of his comments in Michael Wolff's bombshell book, "Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House." Bannon was strongly critical of Trump's son Donald Trump Jr., son-in-law Jared Kushner, and daughter Ivanka.

Over the past week, he has been cast aside by the administration he used to serve, jettisoned by his billionaire backers, and removed from his executive post at Breitbart News. The White House refused to accept his attempt at an apology, and the president has taken to referring to Bannon as "Sloppy Steve."

Bannon is in exile after occupying one of the top perches in American politics just months earlier. Where he goes from here, nobody knows.

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US President Donald Trump (L) congratulates Senior Counselor to the President Stephen Bannon during the swearing-in of senior staff in the East Room of the White House on January 22, 2017 in Washington, DC.

(MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

U.S. President Donald Trump (L-R), is 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, as he speaks by phone with Russia's President Vladimir Putin in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, U.S., January 28, 2017. Jonathan Ernst: "Very early in the Trump administration, weekends were as busy as weekdays. On Trump's second Saturday the official schedule said he would be making private phone calls to a number of world leaders including Russia's Vladimir Putin. I arrived early and, before sitting down at my desk walked up to Press Secretary Sean Spicer's office. He, too, was just taking his coat off. I gingerly made the suggestion that previous administrations had sometimes allowed photos of such phone calls through the Oval Office windows on the colonnade. To my mild shock, he didn't even think about it twice. "We'll do it!" he said. In truth, I really only expected the Putin call, but we were outside the windows multiple times throughout the day as the calls went on."

(REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

U.S. President Donald Trump talks to chief strategist Steve Bannon during a swearing in ceremony for senior staff at the White House in Washington, U.S. January 22, 2017.

(REUTERS/Carlos Barria)

Trump advisers Steve Bannon (L) and Jared Kushner (R) listen as U.S. President Donald Trump meets with members of his Cabinet at the White House in Washington, U.S., June 12, 2017.

(REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)

Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump (C) and campaign CEO Steve Bannon (R) listen to National Park Service Interpretive Park Ranger Caitlin Kostic (2nd R) on a brief visit to Gettysburg National Military Park in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, U.S. October 22, 2016.

(REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

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)

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)

Trump advisor Steve Bannon (L) watches as US President Donald Trump greets Elon Musk, SpaceX and Tesla CEO, before a policy and strategy forum with executives in the State Dining Room of the White House February 3, 2017 in Washington, DC.

(BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

Senior Advisor Jared Kusher, White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon and President Donald Trump arrive at the start of a meeting with Senate and House legislators, in the Roosevelt Room at the White House, February 2, 2017 in Washington, DC. Lawmakers included in the meeting were Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX), Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA).

(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

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"I think Bannon is probably frantically trying to create some kind of plan that allows him to save a little face," Kurt Bardella, a former spokesperson for Breitbart, told Business Insider in an email. "By all accounts he was unprepared and blindsided by the avalanche that buried him."

Bardella said he suspects Bannon "will do all that he can to try and reenter Trump's good graces."

"Trump the narcissist, will love the specter of a humbled Bannon trying to win him back over," he said. "Trump will resist at first, maybe even toy with Steve. But if a crisis engulfs the White House, which can happen at any moment, it would no surprise me if Bannon finds his way into Trump's outside kitchen cabinet."

Bannon was reportedly soon warned to lay off Kushner or face Trump's wrath following the Vanity Fair article. Even before, however, Trump became "increasingly estranged" with Bannon after an embarrassing loss for the Republican Party in the Alabama Senate race. Bannon provided his full support to Roy Moore, the Republican nominee who was accused of pursuing sexual relationships with teenage girls when he was in his 30s. Trump eventually provided Moore with his support as the election reached its final days.

The Alabama race cemented the animosity between Bannon and his insurgent brand of right-wing politics and more establishment figures in the party. They are hoping that Bannon's recent flameout is one he will not be able to recover from politically.

"Given the spectacular failure of his Trojan Horse strategy to take down the Republican Party from within, I'd suggest he take a permanent vacation from politics," Brian McGuire, former chief of staff to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, told Business Insider in an email. "Everyone, but especially our Republican president, would be a lot better off if he did."

But already, rumors have begun to circulate about what Bannon is plotting as his next move.

'Washington almost always gives people a second chance'

Three sources told The Daily Beast on Tuesday that Bannon intends to soon launch a "dark money" nonprofit with a focus on US foreign policy involving China and the Gulf region, immigration, and trade. Meanwhile, The Washington Post reported that Bannon told associates he plans to create a political operation in 2018 while hoping Trump will need him again.

In November, billionaire businessman Mark Cuban said he communicated with Bannon occasionally, and reports emerged that they had discussed Cuban's possible 2020 bid for the presidency.

At the time, Cuban told Business Insider in an email that he and Bannon "haven't talked" since a meeting the pair had at the King Cole Bar in New York City's St. Regis Hotel two weeks after Trump's election victory last fall. Cuban did not mention what the pair discussed then.

"We trade short texts every now and then but that's it," Cuban said. "All that said, I don't have a problem meeting and talking to him. If we want to get past all of this divisive tribalism, it's going to take someone talking to both sides and trying to find some common ground."

Cuban did not return an email from Business Insider on Wednesday when asked whether he had spoken with Bannon over the past week. Reached over email, Bannon did not answer whether he had any discussions with Cuban over the same span or if his next venture could in any way be related to Cuban's possible presidential bid.

Regardless of what Bannon's next move is, it's a safe bet that he won't be disappearing.

"Washington almost always gives people a second chance, but it takes time," Barry Bennett, a former Trump campaign adviser, told Business Insider. "He should forget about this cycle."

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