Who is really pushing Trump's buttons?

When President Donald Trump named Steve Bannon as his chief strategist in the White House, the groans from America's liberal left almost reached New Zealand from across the Pacific.

The 63-year-old now plays a major role in Mr Trump's decision making, and according to some media organisations, was behind the new administration's order to temporarily ban nationals from seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the US.

So who is Steve Bannon?

Like the new President, Mr Bannon has limited political experience to call on, but he does have a colourful, albeit controversial, past.

He is an ex-military man, serving for seven years in the US Navy, where he eventually worked as a special aide to the Chief of Naval operations at the Pentagon.

Steve Bannon (Getty)
Steve Bannon (Getty)

Mr Bannon would have learned much during that time, and it possibly shaped his core ideas about the power of the US military and the importance of controlling that power.

After his short-lived military career, Mr Bannon jumped into the world of big business, working at finance giant Goldman Sachs as an investment banker.

He then entered the art world, and has had a hand in 18 feature films and documentaries working as as a producer, writer or director.

The films ranged from standard Hollywood fare such as The Indian Runner starring Sean Penn, to right-leaning documentaries on Sarah Palin and ex-US president Ronald Reagan.

It was during the making of his Reagan film, entitled In the Face of Evil, that Mr Bannon met a man who would prove pivotal in the next phase of his life, running controversial alt-right media site Breitbart.

Mr Bannon struck up a firm friendship and partnership with Andrew Breitbart, churning out a handful of right-leaning documentaries that have almost become the blueprint for the rise of Donald Trump's 'movement'.

Trump's campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, and Stephen Bannon (Getty Images)
Trump's campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, and Stephen Bannon (Getty Images)

He helped found Breitbart News, and took over as executive chair when Andrew Breitbart died in 2012. Under his guidance, Breitbart became a politically-charged forum for the far right in the US, touting white nationalist and anti-immigration views.

Donald Trump appointed Mr Bannon as chief executive for his election campaign in August 2016, and the and rest, as they say, is history.

Mr Bannon has had three failed marriages and if we're to believe some speculation about him, he is a heavy drinker, bordering on what some call a 'functioning alcoholic'.

So how much power does Steve Bannon actually have in the White House?

Make no mistake, as Mr Trump's chief strategist Mr Bannon has plenty.

He now has arguably more power than most US military and intelligence chiefs, having a permanent seat on the Principal Committee of the National Security Council.

Mr Bannon has full access to all the council's briefings and could play a key part in deciding on the future deployment of America's vast military forces.

He was privy to Mr Trump's signing of a law banning federal money that would help abortion groups, and the new President's travel ban executive order which saw the end of Acting Attorney General Sally Yates, who Mr Trump fired after she refused to defend it.

Was Bannon in Trump’s ear when the decision was made to fire Yates?

We can only speculate on this, and maybe we'll never know for sure.

What we do know is that the new President seeks out Mr Bannon for advice, and that alone has many Democrats running for the hills.