Stephen Bannon

Bannon Asked for Test Messaging on Russia

Cambridge Analytica whistleblower Christopher Wylie told Democrats on Capitol Hill that former Trump campaign strategist Steve Bannon asked the embattled data firm to test messaging on Russia, NBC News reports.

Said Wylie: “I can’t explain why it was that they picked Vladimir Putin to talk about in focus groups or to do message testing or to do models on, and why that would be useful to Steve Bannon.”

Wylie also told lawmakers “that Bannon specifically tasked Cambridge Analytica with looking at ways to depress Democratic turnout with their messaging.”

Bannon Oversaw Collection of Facebook Data

“Stephen Bannon oversaw Cambridge Analytica’s early efforts to collect troves of Facebook data as part of an ambitious program to build detailed profiles of millions of American voters,” the Washington Post reports.

“The 2014 effort was part of a high-tech form of voter persuasion touted by the company, which under Bannon identified and tested the power of anti-establishment messages that later would emerge as central themes in President Trump’s campaign speeches, according to Chris Wylie, who left the company at the end of that year.”

Among the messages tested were “drain the swamp” and “deep state.”

Said Wylie: “The only foreign thing we tested was Putin. It turns out, there’s a lot of Americans who really like this idea of a really strong authoritarian leader and people were quite defensive in focus groups of Putin’s invasion of Crimea.”

Bannon Plots His Comeback

Former White House strategist Steve Bannon told GQ about his plans to launch a new political group sometime this spring or this summer.

Said Bannon: “In the modern digital age—and David Axelrod saw this very early on, and we a little bit copied it—there’s three things that are important: It’s authenticity of candidate. The one thing the Internet has done is blown through phonies. Number two is the importance of actionable ideas. Obama had a series of actionable ideas. Donald Trump had a series of actionable ideas. It’s the reason my office was called the war room. Number three is—and this is also an Obama and Trump characteristic — a volunteer army of dedicated people.”

He added: “We know from the studies, the most powerful thing in a digital world — in an isolated world, in a fractured world — is somebody ringing a doorbell and coming up to you and telling you from their heart about a candidate. The most powerful thing to this women’s movement is not Oprah Winfrey. The most powerful thing is a million people in the streets on a Saturday. That’s power.”

Bannon Floated Idea of Running for President

Playbook has exceprts from the paperpack version of Devil’s Bargain by Joshua Green:

“If Trump quit or was impeached, Bannon told friends, it would eliminate the first great champion of Trumpism—but it wouldn’t be a negative judgment on the politics that had swept him into office. In such a scenario, who better to succeed Trump than the man who got him elected? Bannon shared his interest in running for president with only a few close friends, and even they were never quite sure how seriously to take these flights of fancy.”

“But Bannon had thought hard enough about a path to the White House that he’d even toyed with starting a new political party and settled on a name: the National Union Party. That was the temporary name that Abraham Lincoln and the Republican Party had adopted in 1864 to attract War Democrats and Unionists. In Bannon’s vision, it would now unite disaffected populists on both ends of the political spectrum. With support from financial benefactors like the Mercer family, he seemed to imagine such a path might be viable, and that a true devotee of right-wing nationalism — rather than a charlatan like Trump—could succeed where his predecessor had failed.”

Bannon Rails Against ‘Anti-Patriarchy Movement’

Steve Bannon is quoted in a new edition of the book Devil’s Bargain as sharply criticizing what he terms the “anti-patriarchy movement” — that is, the movement against sexual harassment and assault — saying he believes it will “undo ten thousand years of recorded history,” CNN reports.

Said Bannon: “It’s a Cromwell moment! It’s even more powerful than populism. It’s deeper. It’s primal. It’s elemental. The long black dresses and all that — this is the Puritans! It’s anti-patriarchy.”

He added: “You watch. The time has come. Women are gonna take charge of society. And they couldn’t juxtapose a better villain than Trump. He is the patriarch.”

Through Steve Bannon’s Eyes

Michael Lewis writes about watching the State of the Union address with Steve Bannon:

Words are now coming out of Trump’s mouth but Bannon seems to be only half listening. He’s got a pair of phones out and is scrolling through the speech, the text of which someone has just sent him. As he reads his face flushes. “They have path to citizenship in here,” he says, matter-of- factly. “It’s terrible. It’s a betrayal.”

He leaves the room for several minutes, perhaps to compose himself. When he returns he takes real notice of the remarkable scene that is unfolding. At even the most anodyne applause lines the Democrats remain seated. Bannon seems to view the Democrats less as the opposition party than figures of fun. “The Democrats don’t matter,” he had said to me over our lunch. “The real opposition is the media. And the way to deal with them is to flood the zone with shit.” But he stares at the seated Democrats with genuine wonder. “Look at this,” he says. “Even Reagan — I’ve never seen a State of the Union like this.”

“Tell me when you think Trump really cares about what he is saying,” I say.

Bannon laughs, but not a happy laugh. “I will.”

Bannon Not Expected to Appear Before House

“Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon is not expected to appear before the House Intelligence Committee Tuesday, risking being held in contempt for failing to comply with a subpoena,” CNN reports.

“Escalating a tense standoff with the panel, Bannon isn’t planning on showing up because the White House and committee haven’t reached an agreement over the scope of the questioning.”

Mueller Wants to Question Bannon About Comey Firing

“Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team wants to question former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon about the firings of national security adviser Michael Flynn and FBI Director James Comey,” CNN reports.

“Bannon is set to interview with Mueller by the end of the month, these people say, as the special counsel’s investigation moves closer to President Trump’s inner circle.”

Trump Ordered Bannon to Limit Testimony

President Trump “personally made the decision to curtail the testimony of former chief White House political strategist Steve Bannon before the House Intelligence Committee,” Foreign Policy reports.

“Trump acted to limit Bannon’s testimony based on legal advice provided by Uttam Dhillon, a deputy White House counsel, who concluded that the administration might have legitimate executive privilege claims to restrict testimony by Bannon and other current and former aides to the president.”

“But Dhillon has also concluded that Bannon and other current and former Trump administration officials do not have legitimate claims to executive privilege when it comes to providing information or testimony to special counsel Robert Mueller.”

Kelly Has a Steve Bannon Moment

Jonathan Swan: “Late last night, a few hours after Fox News aired Bret Baier’s interview with John Kelly, a source close to the president told me Trump would explode when he saw what his chief of staff said. The source — who has spent a lot of time with Trump — predicted the president would hate the interview because Kelly came off as the mature professional who patiently educated an uninformed Trump, and helped him see the light and evolve on The Wall.”

“Sure enough, a few hours later Trump tweets his displeasure.”

Said the source: “Kelly has finally ventured into Steve Bannon territory when it comes to trying to create the perception that he’s the ‘great manipulator,’ saving the country from Trump’s ignorance. The difference is, Steve tried to develop that reputation in off-the-record conversations with reporters. Kelly did it openly on the country’s most-watched cable network. It’s the subtle difference between hubris and arrogance.”

FBI Agents Visited Bannon’s Home

“FBI agents showed up at Steve Bannon’s Washington home last week intent on serving him with a subpoena to appear before a grand jury investigating possible ties between President Trump’s campaign and Russia,” NBC News reports.

Axios: “It shows that Mueller isn’t giving Bannon the white glove approach offered to others in President Trump’s orbit — at least publicly.”

Bannon Subpoenaed to Testify Before Grand Jury

Former Trump adviser Stephen Bannon was subpoenaed by special counsel Robert Mueller “to testify before a grand jury as part of the investigation into possible links between Mr. Trump’s associates and Russia,” the New York Times reports.

“The move marked the first time Mr. Mueller is known to have used a grand jury subpoena to seek information from a member of Mr. Trump’s inner circle.”

“The subpoena could be a negotiating tactic. Mr. Mueller is likely to allow Mr. Bannon to forgo the grand jury appearance if he agrees to instead be questioned by investigators in the less formal setting of the special counsel’s offices in Washington… But it was not clear why Mr. Mueller treated Mr. Bannon differently than the dozen administration officials who were interviewed in the final months of last year and were never served with a subpoena.”