PHOTO: CNN
Now playing
01:10
Infighting causes clashes in Trump White House
Steve Bannon, former White House Chief Strategist to U.S. President Donald Trump, attends a debate with Lanny Davis, former special counsel to Bill Clinton, at Zofin Palace on May 22, 2018 in Prague, Czech Republic. (Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
Steve Bannon, former White House Chief Strategist to U.S. President Donald Trump, attends a debate with Lanny Davis, former special counsel to Bill Clinton, at Zofin Palace on May 22, 2018 in Prague, Czech Republic. (Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
PHOTO: Sean Gallup/Getty Images
Now playing
00:49
Bannon predicts government shutdown over wall
exp GPS 0603 BANNON ON ROSENSTEIN_00003117.jpg
exp GPS 0603 BANNON ON ROSENSTEIN_00003117.jpg
Now playing
00:58
Steve Bannon's advice to Trump on Rosenstein
steve bannon cambridge analytica facebook data bash intv_00002202.jpg
steve bannon cambridge analytica facebook data bash intv_00002202.jpg
PHOTO: CNN
Now playing
00:42
Bannon: I don't remember buying Facebook data
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 2: (AFP OUT) (L to R) White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon and White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus look on as President Donald Trump meets with Senate and House legislators, in the Roosevelt Room at the White House, February 2, 2017 in Washington, DC. Lawmakers included in the meeting were Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX), Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA). (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 2: (AFP OUT) (L to R) White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon and White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus look on as President Donald Trump meets with Senate and House legislators, in the Roosevelt Room at the White House, February 2, 2017 in Washington, DC. Lawmakers included in the meeting were Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX), Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA). (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
PHOTO: Drew Angerer/Getty Images
Now playing
01:46
WaPo: Bannon aiming to cripple Mueller probe
Steve Bannon, former White House Chief Strategist to U.S. President Donald Trump, attends a debate with Lanny Davis, former special counsel to Bill Clinton, at Zofin Palace on May 22, 2018 in Prague, Czech Republic. (Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
Steve Bannon, former White House Chief Strategist to U.S. President Donald Trump, attends a debate with Lanny Davis, former special counsel to Bill Clinton, at Zofin Palace on May 22, 2018 in Prague, Czech Republic. (Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
PHOTO: Sean Gallup/Getty Images
Now playing
02:08
Bannon says MLK Jr. would be 'proud' of Trump
Steve Bannon
Steve Bannon
PHOTO: AFP
Now playing
01:20
Bannon: Wear 'racist' label as badge of honor
US President Donald Trump steps off Air Force One upon arrival at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland on December 2, 2017. 
Trump is returning to Washington, DC after attending fundraisers in New York, New York. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN        (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump steps off Air Force One upon arrival at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland on December 2, 2017. Trump is returning to Washington, DC after attending fundraisers in New York, New York. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
PHOTO: MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images
Now playing
02:20
Trump slams Bannon: He lost his mind
Steve Bannon, chairman of Breitbart News Network LLC, speaks during a campaign rally for Roy Moore, Republican candidate for U.S. Senate from Alabama, not pictured, in Midland City, Alabama, U.S., on Monday, Dec. 11, 2017. Republican Senator Richard Shelby, Alabama
Steve Bannon, chairman of Breitbart News Network LLC, speaks during a campaign rally for Roy Moore, Republican candidate for U.S. Senate from Alabama, not pictured, in Midland City, Alabama, U.S., on Monday, Dec. 11, 2017. Republican Senator Richard Shelby, Alabama's senior member of Congress, strongly condemned Moore on Sunday as the contentious campaign for the state's open senate seat nears its end. Photographer: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg via Getty Images
PHOTO: Bloomberg/Bloomberg/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Now playing
01:23
What Bannon thinks will take down Trump
PHOTO: CNN
Now playing
01:22
The ups and downs of the Bannon insurgency
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 16:  Steve Bannon, former advisor to President Trump, arrives at a House Intelligence Committee closed door meeting, on January 16, 2018 in Washington, DC. The committee is investigating alleged Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.  (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 16: Steve Bannon, former advisor to President Trump, arrives at a House Intelligence Committee closed door meeting, on January 16, 2018 in Washington, DC. The committee is investigating alleged Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
PHOTO: Mark Wilson/Getty Images
Now playing
02:59
Mueller set to question Bannon on Flynn, Comey
Now playing
01:35
Toobin: Bannon had a real 'ax to grind'
steve bannon moore trump washington post bash lemon ctn_00000827.jpg
steve bannon moore trump washington post bash lemon ctn_00000827.jpg
PHOTO: WMUR
Now playing
00:51
Bannon compares Moore, Trump WaPo stories
Steve Bannon addresses the California GOP 2017 Convention in Anaheim, California on October 20, 2017.
Steve Bannon addresses the California GOP 2017 Convention in Anaheim, California on October 20, 2017.
PHOTO: FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images
Now playing
01:45
Bannon tells Trump: Fight back against Mueller
Steve Bannon takes the stage at a Roy Moore rally on December 5, 2017.
Steve Bannon takes the stage at a Roy Moore rally on December 5, 2017.
PHOTO: CNN
Now playing
00:51
Steve Bannon comments on Roy Moore accusations
PHOTO: CBS
Now playing
00:57
Bannon: Comey firing was a mistake

Story highlights

No one can get bigger than Donald Trump

Are Steve Bannon's days in the White House numbered?

(CNN) —  

White House chief strategist Steve Bannon appears to be fighting for his political life following stunningly lukewarm comments about him from President Donald Trump on Tuesday.

“I like Steve, but you have to remember he was not involved in my campaign until very late,” Trump told New York Post columnist Michael Goodwin. “I had already beaten all the senators and all the governors, and I didn’t know Steve. I’m my own strategist and it wasn’t like I was going to change strategies because I was facing crooked Hillary.”

Then, just in case anyone missed the point (they didn’t), Trump added: “Steve is a good guy, but I told them to straighten it out or I will.”

Whoa.

Comments like that at any time would be major news and a major cause of concern for Bannon. Coming as they do on the heels of a very public fight between Bannon and Jared Kushner, another top Trump adviser and the president’s son-in-law, suggest that the chief executive has totally lost his tolerance for Bannon.

It’s been a remarkable arc for Bannon and Trump. The former head of Breitbart News joined Trump’s presidential campaign as chief strategist in August 2016 amid a campaign shakeup that also installed Kellyanne Conway as campaign manager. He quickly rose to prominence, the strategist widely credited with putting skin and muscle on the bare bones of Trump’s “America First” worldview.

Bannon’s rise continued once Trump won and he was installed as one of four top advisers in the White House. And, in the early days of the Trump administration, Bannon seemed ascendant. He – along with deputy Stephen Miller – were the guiding lights behind Trump’s travel ban. Bannon’s fingerprints could be seen in almost every Trump public pronouncement – particularly when it came to his savaging of the media.

In an appearance in late February at the Conservative Political Action Conference, Bannon cast the Trump presidency as a nonstop fight for the “deconstruction of the administrative state.” He appeared to be the architect of that deconstruction – with a direct line to the President.

It was right around that time that Bannon got a little too big for Trump’s liking. He appeared on the cover of Time magazine – a close-up of the brooding Bannon – with the headline “The Great Manipulator.” “Saturday Night Live” did a skit in which Bannon was portrayed as both the Grim Reaper and the shadow president.

One of the most important truisms of the Trump presidency is that no one gets bigger than the boss. It’s Donald Trump and the Trumpettes, not Donald Trump with Steve Bannon. Donald Trump shares top billing with absolutely no one.

You can hear Trump’s annoyance with Bannon’s growing profile in the quotes to Goodwin. Trump notes that Bannon got involved in the race long after he had secured the Republican nomination, adding: “I’m my own strategist and it wasn’t like I was going to change strategies because I was facing crooked Hillary.”

The message? The reason I won is because of me, not Steve Bannon. I developed the strategy. I executed it. No one else. This is my victory. My presidency.

Trump’s comments are an unmistakable and purposeful shot across the bow of Bannon. Get in line or get out, Trump is not so subtly telling Bannon. Now the ball’s in Bannon’s court.