Anti-Defamation League ‘glad’ Bannon out of White House
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Anti-Defamation League ‘glad’ Bannon out of White House

Watchdog says former chief strategist 'unconscionably' praised Trump’s response to the events in Charlottesville

Steve Bannon, ex-chief strategist for US President-elect Donald Trump, at Trump Tower, December 10, 2016 in New York. (AFP/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez)
Steve Bannon, ex-chief strategist for US President-elect Donald Trump, at Trump Tower, December 10, 2016 in New York. (AFP/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez)

The Anti-Defamation League on Friday said it was “glad” Steve Bannon, a former White House strategist, was removed from his post.

A champion of the nationalist-populist agenda that carried Trump to power last November, the 63-year-old Bannon left a White House reeling from the fallout over the president’s response to a violent white supremacist rally.

With Trump under fire for insisting anti-racism protesters were equally to blame for violence at a weekend rally of neo-Nazis and white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia, the president faced renewed pressure to let Bannon go.

“Hate has no place in our nation: not in our town squares and not in our White House. We are glad Steve Bannon will no longer advise the president,” said ADL CEO Jonathan A. Greenblatt in a statement.

“In November of 2016, when Bannon was first appointed, we called on the president to disassociate himself from someone who boasted about creating a platform on Breitbart for the alt right, a loose-knit group of white nationalists and unabashed anti-Semites. Just this week, Bannon unconscionably praised President Trump’s response to the events in Charlottesville,” he said.

“Now is the time for moral leadership. As we have said before, staffers with ties to white nationalists do not belong on the payroll of the American people. Just as the president has promised to investigate leakers on his staff, he should apply the same energy to identify and dismiss others on his staff with ties to extremists,” added Grennblatt.

Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO And National Director of the Anti-Defamation League, left, testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, May 2, 2017, before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on responses to the increase in religious hate crimes. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO And National Director of the Anti-Defamation League, left, testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, May 2, 2017, before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on responses to the increase in religious hate crimes. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Bannon, a hero of the so-called “alt right” whose presence in the West Wing was controversial from the start, had become the nucleus of one of several competing power centers in a chaotic White House.

The departure, capping one of the most disastrous weeks of the chaotic young administration, is a nod to members of Trump’s government and his Republican Party grown increasingly frustrated with the anti-establishment firebrand.

It remains to be seen what role the serial provocateur will continue to play from outside the White House, but Bannon himself vowed to keep pushing Trump’s right-wing agenda, as he returned to his former home at the ultra-conservative website Breitbart News.

“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 said in an interview within hours of leaving the White House.

Trump welcomed Bannon’s return to Breitbart in a tweet, predicting: “Steve Bannon will be a tough and smart new voice at @BreitbartNews… maybe even better than ever before. Fake News needs the competition!”

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