Anything the Mooch can do, White House chief strategist Steve Bannon can apparently do better.
Bannon is reportedly claiming that a bombshell interview in which he undercut the President’s aggressive stance on North Korea, dismissed the alt-right as “clowns”, claimed the U.S. is in an economic war with China, discussed internal fights with colleagues, and boasted of his control over personnel was actually an accident.
According to Axios, Bannon told incredulous colleagues that he didn’t realise he was on the record when he phoned up Robert Kuttner — a writer at the left-wing publication The American Prospect — to discuss a piece the journalist had written on China. Bannon was apparently surprised when Kuttner turned his incredibly newsworthy comments into a story.
If that sounds familiar, it’s because short-lived White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci did exactly the same thing a few weeks ago after calling a writer at The New Yorker. In his call Scaramucci, who was fired soon after the episode, accused Bannon of leaking stories to reporters and suggested the two were different because “I’m not Steve Bannon, I’m not trying to suck my own c***”.
Scaramucci has continued to give interviews since his firing and suggested a few days ago that Bannon should be fired. He’s seemingly far from the only one who holds that view, with the former Breitbart editor facing increasing pressure from internal rivals and outside critics in the wake of the President’s response to the white nationalist violence in Charlottesville.
At his now-infamous press conference on Monday, Trump offered a novel defence of the man who helped guide his campaign to the White House.
“He is not a racist”, said Trump.
“We’ll see what happens with Mr. Bannon, but he’s a good person and I think the press treats him, frankly, very unfairly”.
How Trump responds to Bannon’s ‘accidental’ interview could decide the fate of America’s most prominent white nationalist.
How the White House chief strategist got himself in trouble
Bannon on North Korea:
“There’s no military solution, forget it”, Bannon said. “Until somebody solves the part of the equation that shows me that 10 million people in Seoul don’t die in the first 30 minutes from conventional weapons, I don’t know what you’re talking about, there’s no military solution here, they got us”.
Bannon on China:
“We’re at economic war with China…On Korea, they’re just tapping us along. It’s just a sideshow. To me the economic war with China is everything. And we have to be maniacally focused on that. If we continue to lose it, we’re five years away, I think, ten years at the most, of hitting an inflection point from which we’ll never be able to recover”.
Bannon on white nationalists (while head of Breitbart, he proudly declared the site “the platform for the alt-right”):
“Ethno-nationalism — it’s losers. It’s a fringe element. I think the media plays it up too much, and we gotta help crush it, you know, uh, help crush it more … These guys are a collection of clowns”.
Bannon on the left:
“The Democrats, the longer they talk about identity politics, I got ’em. I want them to talk about racism every day. If the left is focused on race and identity, and we go with economic nationalism, we can crush the Democrats”.
Bannon on internal fights over national security policy:
“I’m getting hawks in…We gotta do this. The president’s default position is to do it, but the apparatus is going crazy. Don’t get me wrong. It’s like, every day.”
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