Patrick Howley, a former Breitbart News reporter, left the site under vague circumstances back in November. Howley told me at the time that he was leaving of his own volition because the site had become more “controlled” after the departure of Steve Bannon, the organization’s former chairman who was hired for a top job in the Trump campaign and will be the White House’s chief strategist in the incoming administration.
Now, however, Howley and other Breitbart News alumni are starting their own group designed to enforce Trump’s agenda, combined with a planned media arm. So far, the group, which they are calling the America First Project, has surfaced in the press for trying to unseat the current chairman of the Florida Republican Party, who is seen by some Trump allies as having been untrustworthy during the election. Its existence is still more nominal than real. But the move by Breitbart alumni to form their own group indicates that ideological factions are already taking shape within the Trumpist populist-nationalist movement, even before its leader takes office.
Howley has made the rounds of the conservative media world in Washington, having done stints at right-wing publications like The Daily Caller and the Washington Free Beacon as well as Breitbart, where he was suspended for a time last year after publicly questioning his then-colleague’s account of being manhandled by Trump’s campaign manager at a press conference. He said he envisions the project as an “advocacy organization that is going to advocate for Trump administration policies that generally fall under a populist-nationalist window.” (He doesn’t primarily use the word “conservative.” Howley has lost patience with the conservative movement’s focus on cutting spending and entitlement reform. “Conservatives are not offering any solutions, all they’re doing is cutting government benefits,” he said.)