An embattled Steve Bannon appears to be digging in against a storm of bad press suggesting he's on his way out, sources familiar with the inner workings of the White House told NBC News.
The White House chief strategist "ain't going anywhere," sources close to him said.
Bannon was removed from his position on the National Security Council this week, a shakeup that the White House denied was part of a “power struggle” within the administration. Officials discussing the move said Bannon was originally placed on the council as a check to then-National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, who resigned in February after misleading Vice President Mike Pence about his contact with a Russian ambassador.
On Saturday, one source said Bannon’s message was this: "Democrats will never run the White House."
The comment apparently refers to Trump son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner and senior economic adviser Gary Cohn, who are believed to be Bannon’s rivals for power. He has reportedly nicknamed them, the "West Wing Democrats."
NBC News reached out to the White House for response but did not hear back.
In an email to The New York Times, Trump spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders pushed back against reports of discontent in the White House. “Once again this is completely false story driven by people who want to distract from the success taking place in this administration,” she wrote.
Bannon attended a meeting with Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and Kushner with the intent of presenting a united front, according to a source familiar with the situation.
Sources say Priebus organized the meeting Friday afternoon with Bannon and Kushner. Sources familiar with the conversation say the roughly hour-long meeting was a "bury the hatchet" session.
Sources say Priebus said, "We need to work together. We came off an amazing week. We should we be celebrating this and not having a bunch of stories about who is up and who is down." The discussion acknowledged that they can "fight it out on policy, that's one thing." But sources said, they recognize the need to stop the "back-biting and get it all out."
As the chief of staff, Priebus was described as sending a message, "if you don't like it, then move on." More broadly, allies of Bannon were described as "blowing off steam" with the tensions they expressed in the wake of policy decisions like the Syrian strike.
Bannon is believed to see himself as the protector of the president's campaign promises, a kind of ideological compass. Sources said he wants to stay to keep "fighting for the president's agenda."
But is that what the president wants?
For now, signs point to yes — but a number of high-profile staffing changes during his campaign suggest the president is willing to make changes to his team if he’s not getting what he wants.