CNN executives did not view it that way. “Nazi salutes are indefensible,” the network said in a terse statement. “Jeffrey Lord is no longer with the network.”
Mr. Lord, a veteran of the Reagan White House, became CNN’s first paid pro-Trump contributor in July 2015. Mr. Trump, then a long-shot Republican candidate, after complaining that the network’s panelists all seemed to dislike him. (CNN said it had already been considering Mr. Lord for a job.)
At the time, Mr. Lord was living with his mother and occasionally writing magazine pieces. Soon, he was ubiquitous on television, admired by Mr. Trump’s supporters as a rare mainstream voice for their candidate, and ridiculed by others for unwavering praise of him.
Mr. Trump was a fan, once calling Mr. Lord on his cellphone while he was on air; Mr. Lord excused himself to his stunned fellow panelists what Mr. Trump had to say.
Recently, however, some aides to the president had grown impatient with Mr. Lord’s mild onscreen manner. Although he was viewed within the White House as a thoughtful analyst, Mr. Trump’s team wanted CNN to have more combative pundits represent the president’s views, according to two senior administration officials who requested anonymity to describe private conversations.
In a phone call on Thursday, Mr. Lord sounded sanguine about his sudden unemployment, saying that he loved CNN and respected Jeffrey A. Zucker, the network’s president. Still, he said that he found his firing “incredibly ironic.”
“I am mocking people who are using bully tactics in the style of fascists and Nazis to take people off the air, and I am the one who gets taken off the air,” he said.
Mr. Lord said that he had already received an inquiry from a prospective employer, and mentioned an interest in appearing on conservative talk radio. He said he was also close to finalizing a deal for a book “about the president and the fights he has with various forces.” The tentative title: “The Lion at the Gate.”
The experience of the past two years, Mr. Lord said, had been surreal.
“I’m recognized all over the place,” he said. In Manhattan this week, he added, “I was stopped six or seven times by people wanting selfies with me.”
Did he ever suspect that his support for Mr. Trump might lead to such fame?
“I’ve written seven unpublished novels,” Mr. Lord said, laughing. “I couldn’t have made this up if I tried.”