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Steve Bannon: Get to know Trump's controversial former White House chief strategist

Throughout much of his short-lived tenure as the president's chief strategist, Steve Bannon existed amid rumors that his position was precarious. That proved true on Aug. 18, when news broke that Bannon had been fired.

Bannon had been one of Trump's closest allies, serving as his campaign’s chief executive during the crucial final stretch, so it wasn't a surprise when he was named to a key position in the Trump administration. The announcement did come amid controversy, however, as critics pointed to a recent past including heading the ultra-conservative Breitbart News and accusations of anti-Semitism.

During his seven months in the White House, Bannon endured highs and lows, from being named chief strategist of the National Security Council to being removed from that position and holding a position as part of the president’s inner circle to reportedly being suspected as the man behind many of the leaks about West Wing infighting. At the end of the of it all, his fate mirrored that of many before him, including Sean Spicer and Reince Priebus.

What's next for Bannon? He's headed right back to Breitbart News as executive chairman. "Now I'm free. I've got my hands back on my weapons," Bannon told The Weekly Standard on Aug. 18.

Bannon has three degrees

Bannon did his undergraduate work in his native
Photo Credit: Getty Images for SiriusXM / Paul Marotta

Bannon did his undergraduate work in his native state at Virginia Tech before receiving a master's degree from Georgetown and an MBA from Harvard.

He took the reigns of Breitbart News in 2012

Bannon became the chief executive of Breitbart News
Photo Credit: AFP / Getty Images / Mandel Ngan

Bannon became the chief executive of Breitbart News following the death of founder Andrew Breitbart on March 1, 2012.

The ultra-right wing site has been at the center of the 2016 presidential campaign, beyond its pro-Trump coverage. (Sample headline, from July 2015: "Donald Trump would be the real first black president.") In March, Breitbart reporter Michelle Fields alleged she was grabbed by then-Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski after a news conference; Lewandowski was charged with misdemeanor battery but not prosecuted.

Bannon's had an array of other jobs, too

Before joining the Trump campaign in August of
Photo Credit: Getty Images / Drew Angerer

Before joining the Trump campaign in August of 2016, Bannon had no prior experience as a political operative. He has plenty of other jobs on his resume, however, including seven years as a Navy officer. Later, under President Ronald Reagan, he was at the Pentagon, serving the chief of naval operations. Bannon later worked as an investment banker -- at Goldman Sachs, then at Bannon & Co., which specialized in media. He even, for a time, helped helm Biosphere 2, the ecosystem experiment outside of Tucson, Arizona.

He makes money every time ‘Seinfeld’ airs

In 1990, Bannon and his company helped negotiate
Photo Credit: Getty Images for SiriusXM / Ben Jackson

In 1990, Bannon and his company helped negotiate the sale of Castle Rock Entertainment to Ted Turner, and kept a stake in five shows, including partial royalties for hit "Seinfeld," as part of his adviser's fee.

He directed and funded a Sarah Palin doc

Bannon financed 2011's
Photo Credit: TNS / Tina Fultz

Bannon financed 2011's "The Undefeated," contributing $1 million to the film chronicling the former Alaska governor's political tenure, he told RealClearPolitics. The film has an audience score of 38% on Rotten Tomatoes -- critics gave it flat 0% -- and grossed about $101,000 in box office sales. Among those interviewed in the film is Andrew Breitbart.

Bannon also directed this year's "Torchbearer," starring Phil Robertson of "Duck Dynasty" fame.

He's a key figure of the modern alt-right

During Bannon's tenure at Breitbart, he openly embraced
Photo Credit: AFP / Getty Images / Mandel Ngan

During Bannon's tenure at Breitbart, he openly embraced the site as "the platform for the alt-right," according to an interview with Mother Jones. But Bannon denies that the alt-right is inherently racist, saying that it's more of a nationalist-ideology than a racial one.

"Look, are there some people that are white nationalists that are attracted to some of the philosophies of the alt-right? Maybe," he told Mother Jones. "Are there some people that are anti-Semitic that are attracted? Maybe. Right? Maybe some people are attracted to the alt-right that are homophobes, right? But that's just like, there are certain elements of the progressive left and the hard left that attract certain elements."

The Southern Poverty Law Center defines Bannon and his impact on the Breitbart agenda in stronger terms, tweeting on Nov. 13 that "Stephen Bannon was the main driver behind Breitbart becoming a white ethno-nationalist propaganda mill."

Bannon is accused of being an anti-Semite

In a Nov. 13 statement praising Trump for
Photo Credit: AFP / Getty Images / Mandel Ngan

In a Nov. 13 statement praising Trump for his appointment of Reince Prebus as chief of staff, the Anti-Defamation League said that it "strongly opposes" Bannon's new role.

"It is a sad day when a man who presided over the premier website of the alt-right, a loose-knit group of white nationalists and unabashed anti-Semites and racists -- is slated to be a senior staff member in the 'people's house,'" ADL CEO Jonathan A. Greenblatt said.

Conservative presidential candidate Evan McMullin tweeted the day of the announcement, wondering "Will any national level elected GOP leaders condemn @realDonaldTrump's appointment of anti-Semite Steve Bannon to senior White House role?"

In 2007, during a contentious divorce battle, Bannon's ex-wife made a sworn declaration in a court filing that included her recollection of anti-Semitic comments she said Bannon made as the two checked out private schools for their daughters. Discussing Archer School for Girls, NBC News reported, his ex-wife alleged that "the biggest problem he had with Archer is the number of Jews that attend." Their daughters ultimately did attend Archer.


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