White House chief of staff Steve Bannon, a controversial figure linked to the extreme right and populism, stepped down after losing the confidence of US President Donald Trump.
"White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and Steve Bannon have mutually decided that today would be Steve's last day. We are grateful for their service and we wish them well," said White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders, in a brief statement.
According to The New York Times, Trump told his advisers this morning that he had decided to fire Bannon. A source in his circle told the Times, the decision to leave the spot is his and he already submitted his resignation to the president on August 7th.
Rumors about a possible departure from Bannon have been circulating for days and gained momentum on Tuesday when Trump avoided answering a journalist's question about whether he maintained confidence in his strategic boss. "We'll see what happens to Mr. Bannon," Trump replied in a press conference in New York.
The president said that Bannon "is a good man" and "not a racist," and lamented that "the press treats him very unfairly."
Bannon, former director of the ultra-right Breitbart News website, gained such prominence in the White House in the early days of Trump's term that some joked about how he was who truly managed the reins of the Presidency.
Bannon has been charged with keeping Trump committed to the populist discourse that took him to the presidency, and encouraged him, among other things, to issue his controversial immigration veto against refugees and certain Muslim immigrants, and to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement on climate change.
According to the Times, Bannon was faced with new White House chief of staff John Kelly, who warned that he would not tolerate schemes in the shadow of the chief strategist.
Some in the White House accused Bannon of having leaked to the press negative information about Trump's national security adviser, H.R. McMaster. In addition, Bannon maintains a long rivalry with the son-in-law and adviser of the president, Jared Kushner.
The violence this weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia, caused by neo-Nazi groups, gave more force to those who believe Bannon should leave the White House, although he distanced himself from those groups in an interview with The American Prospect.