When President Trump made his first visit abroad last year, Steve Bannon was still at the heart of everything.
A year later, Bannon is no longer by the president’s side as Trump visits the United Kingdom, after a precipitous political fall from grace earlier this year. But he’s still shown up on the edges of the trip, camping out in the U.K. and supporting Trump through media appearances as an unofficial surrogate.
As the president struggles through a hurricane of negative coverage and protests in Britain, Bannon turning up as a support act and surrounding himself with Trump-friendly actors could be interpreted on some level as a strategic play: to show his former boss he’s still useful, still loyal, and still the man who can flip a narrative—and maybe even flip out of office all the pesky European allies who irritate Trump so.
Bannon is “the best surrogate the president has,” said a former White House official who spoke on the condition of anonymity in order to speak freely. And Bannon may stand to benefit from the president’s compulsive TV-watching, the source said: “The more Steve goes on TV and the president sees him doing a great job defending him, the more likely we will see a detente and even an eventual reunion between the two.”