President Donald Trump's controversial chief strategist Stephen Bannon is leaving his position and returning to far-right Breitbart News as chief, where he has vowed to continue fighting for Trump.

Bannon, a forceful but divisive presence in President Donald Trump's White House, is leaving. Trump accepted Bannon's resignation Friday, August 18, 2017, ending a turbulent seven months for his chief strategist, the latest to depart from the president's administration in turmoil. (File photo)
Bannon, a forceful but divisive presence in President Donald Trump's White House, is leaving. Trump accepted Bannon's resignation Friday, August 18, 2017, ending a turbulent seven months for his chief strategist, the latest to depart from the president's administration in turmoil. (File photo)

The White House announced on Friday that Stephen Bannon is leaving the White House, ending the turbulent tenure of a rabble-rousing conservative media entrepreneur and political activist who was a darling of Trump's base.

"White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and Steve Bannon have mutually agreed today would be Steve's last day," White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said in a statement. "We are grateful for his service and wish him the best."

TRT World correspondent Jon Brain reports from Washington.

A champion of economic nationalism and a political provocateur, Bannon, 63, is a former US Navy officer, Goldman Sachs investment banker and Hollywood movie producer.

Bannon had been in a precarious position before but Trump opted to keep him, in part because his chief strategist played a major role in his 2016 election victory and was backed by many of the president's most loyal rank-and-file supporters.

Trump on Tuesday called Bannon "a friend of mine" but downplayed his contribution to his victory.

"Mr. Bannon came on very late. You know that. I went through 17 senators, governors and I won all the primaries. Mr. Bannon came on very much later than that. And I like him. He is a good man. He is not a racist. I can tell you that. He is a good person. He actually gets a very unfair press in that regard," Trump said.

In his first public remarks after the announcement, Bannon said he still backed Trump.

"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 told Bloomberg News.

Bannon's departure casts a cloud over the future of the group of allies he had brought into the White House, such as Sebastian Gorka, who presents himself on frequent cable TV appearances as a national security expert but is not part of the National Security Council team.

Barry Bennett, a former Trump campaign adviser, said Bannon's departure was a sign of Kelly's strength.

A source familiar with the decision, which had been under consideration for a while, said Bannon had been given an opportunity to depart on his own terms. "The president made up his mind on it over the past couple of weeks," the source said.

Kelly had been evaluating Bannon's role within the White House. "They gave him an opportunity to step down knowing that he was going to be forced to," the source said.

Bannon damaged his standing by giving an interview to the liberal American Prospect this week in which he was seen to be undercutting Trump's position on North Korea.

Bannon told associates he thought he was talking to an academic and thought he was off the record.

He had told friends he could go back to the right-wing Breitbart News outlet, which he had headed before he took over as chief of Trump's presidential campaign in August 2016.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies