Trump Says Bannon Is ‘Not a Racist,’ but His Job Status Remains in Doubt

Mr. Bannon’s departure from the White House has been repeatedly predicted by news media and political observers in Washington. Many assumed that his exit would be hastened by last weekend’s violence in Charlottesville, Va., and the president’s widely condemned tepid response to it.

But in some ways, Tuesday’s news conference served only to underscore Mr. Bannon’s lasting influence on Mr. Trump.

The president’s defiant insistence that leftist activists were as guilty as white nationalists and neo-Nazis for the clashes in Charlottesville could have come from Mr. Bannon’s playbook. Mr. Trump’s instincts on these charged issues align more closely to Mr. Bannon’s than with more moderate voices, like those of his daughter Ivanka Trump or his son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

“He’s a good person, and I think the press treats him, frankly, very unfairly,” Mr. Trump declared.

While Mr. Bannon is in obvious disfavor with the boss — the two men have not talked face-to-face for days — he is still capable of getting his policies through. On Monday, Mr. Trump set in motion a trade case against China for its alleged theft of intellectual property, a policy that Mr. Bannon has championed since Inauguration Day against resistance from the president’s senior economic and national security aides.

Mr. Bannon’s latest woes stem from suspicions, which he denies, that he has orchestrated a smear campaign against the national security adviser, Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster, through Breitbart, which he once ran, and other right-wing media outlets.

Asked on Tuesday whether he needed to defend General McMaster, Mr. Trump answered curtly: “I’ve already done it. I did it last time.”

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