Stephen Bannon

Quote of the Day

“This past election, the Democrats used every personal attack, including charges of racism, against President Trump. He then won a landslide victory on a straightforward platform of economic nationalism. As long as the Democrats fail to understand this, they will continue to lose. But leftist elites do not value history, so why would they learn from history?”

— White House adviser Stephen Bannon, in an email to the Washington Post.

Bannon Won’t Go Quietly

BuzzFeed reports that White House adviser Stephen Bannon “has now made the calculus that he’s on thin ice regardless, and won’t go down quietly.”

Said one supporter: “He’s saying, ‘I’m going to force you to fire me in a public way or we’re going to follow the agenda we were elected for.'”

“Those in the orbit of Trump mega-donors Robert and Rebekah Mercer, longtime Bannon allies who invested in Breitbart, are said to be worried about Bannon and the White House his departure would leave behind. The removal of Bannon, people in that world have said this week, would signal that the White House they worked to elect as the harbinger of political revolution was instead becoming ‘another Bush administration.'”

Firing Bannon Won’t Change Trump

Ryan Lizza: “To be sure, though he enables and reinforces Trump’s ugly nativism, Bannon is hardly the deft, Rasputin-like manipulator he is seen as in American pop culture. He was adamantly opposed to the strike on Syria, and Trump ignored him. He has learned that Trump recoils from advisers who are seen to be controlling him.”

“If Trump finally pushes Bannon out of the White House, the nationalist policy project will be all but dead. The new chief of staff, John Kelly, is far more moderate on immigration and has pushed Trump to abandon the idea of a physical border wall. Economic policy will be fully under the control of Cohn, and the heretical idea of raising taxes on the wealthy will have no champion. Trump himself has always been more animated by the xenophobia of Bannonism than by its populist economic views. A Trump White House without Bannon will be no more radical in its coddling of far-right groups—today Trump showed again that he needs no encouragement—but it will be more captured by the traditional small-government agenda of the G.O.P. Bannon hoped to destroy.”

Trump Under Intense Pressure to Fire Bannon

New York Times: “Rupert Murdoch has repeatedly urged President Trump to fire him. Anthony Scaramucci, the president’s former communications director, thrashed him on television as a white nationalist. Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster, the national security adviser, refused to even say he could work with him.”

“For months, Mr. Trump has considered ousting Stephen Bannon, the White House chief strategist and relentless nationalist who ran the Breitbart website and called it a ‘platform for the alt-right.’ Mr. Trump has sent Mr. Bannon to a kind of internal exile, and has not met face-to-face for more than a week with a man who was once a fixture in the Oval Office, according to aides and friends of the president.”

“So far, Mr. Trump has not been able to follow through — a product of his dislike of confrontation, the bonds of a foxhole friendship forged during the 2016 presidential campaign and concerns about what mischief Mr. Bannon might do once he leaves the protective custody of the West Wing.”

Exchange of the Day

National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster was interviewed by Chuck Todd on Meet the Press:

TODD: Can you and Steve Bannon still work together in this White House or not?

McMASTER: I get to work together with a broad range of talented people and it is a privilege every day to enable the national security team.

TODD: You didn’t answer can you and Steve Bannon work in that same White House?

McMASTER: I am, I am ready to work with anybody who will help advance the president’s agenda and advance the security, prosperity of the American people.

TODD: Do you believe Steve Bannon does that?

McMASTER: I believe that everyone who works in the White House who has the privilege, the great privilege every day of serving their nation should be motivated by that goal.

Knives Are Out for Bannon

CNN: “Two senior Trump advisers — one inside the White House and another who recently departed — signaled Sunday that the knives are out for Steve Bannon, President Trump’s controversial chief strategist.”

“The comments come as a source inside the White House tells CNN that White House chief of staff John Kelly has soured on Bannon, a political operative with deep ties to the ‘alt-right’ and the former head of the conservative news site Breitbart.”

McMaster Attacked for Being ‘Controlled by Jews’

President Trump’s National Security Adviser General H. R. McMaster “is being targeted in recent days by a far-right campaign that is accusing him, simultaneously, of being controlled by rich Jews and of harming the state of Israel,” Haaretz reports.

“The campaign is coming from media outlets and writers affiliated with Steve Bannon, President Trump’s senior political adviser, who has been accused in the past of making anti-Semitic comments.”

“The campaign against McMaster intensified after he fired a number of mid-level officials from the National Security Council, who were considered loyal to Bannon and to the former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.”

The Hill: Trump defends McMcMaster in the wake of criticism on the right.

Bannon’s Shadow Press Office May Violate Law

Center for Public Integrity: “In an arrangement prominent ethics experts say is without precedent and potentially illegal, the White House is referring questions for senior presidential adviser Stephen Bannon to an outside public relations agent whose firm says she is working for free.”

“The unorthodox setup means Bannon, Trump’s chief strategist, is potentially violating the Antideficiency Act, which provides that federal employees “may not accept voluntary services for [the] government or employ personal services exceeding that authorized by law.'”

Bannon Wants to Tax Top Earners at 44%

“White House chief strategist Steve Bannon’s plan to raise the top income-tax rate for America’s highest earners could find some support among congressional Republicans as part of a populist message to sell a broader tax overhaul,” Bloomberg reports.

“Bannon supports paying for middle-class tax cuts with a new top rate of 44% for those who make more than $5 million a year, according to a person familiar with his thinking. The lawmaker, who asked not to be named because discussions are private, said the rate pitched was 42%, which would be acceptable to some conservatives, as long as it’s coupled with a low corporate rate and other changes like repealing the alternative minimum tax. The current top individual rate is 39.6%.”

Bannon Is Out of Trump’s Dog House

Mike Allen: “Events in this madcap West Wing have conspired to give Bannon back much of his mojo: He’s clearly going to stay, after being long rumored to be on the outs. He’s no longer in a hot war with Jared Kushner. He played a key role in developing the Russia response. And he’s back to pushing ideas the GOP establishment hates, including a tax hike on the rich and trade wars.”

“Bannon’s insurance policy is that he’s the keeper of the base. Trump understands he’s never going to be broadly popular, so he absolutely has to preserve his 46%.”

Bannon Pushes to Hike Taxes on Wealthy

Jonathan Swan: “Steve Bannon is causing a stir inside the administration by pushing an idea that’s anathema to most Republicans: raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans to pay for steep middle and working-class tax cuts. (Some officials who’ve heard Bannon’s idea think it’s crazy, but the President’s chief strategist believes it’s a potent populist idea.)”

“Bannon has told colleagues he wants the top income tax bracket to ‘have a 4 in front of it.’ (The top bracket is currently 39.6% for Americans who earn more than $418,400.) It’s classic Bannon – pushing a maximalist position that’s reviled by the Republican establishment.”

Also interesting: “Gar Cohn has told associates that if tax reform doesn’t get done this year, it’s probably never going to happen. Sources who know Cohn speculate that he’ll leave the White House the instant he concludes tax reform is dead.”

How Climate Change Saved Steve Bannon’s Job

Ryan Lizza: “Two important things changed since the ‘Bannon is dead’ narrative took hold, in April. The first is the Russia investigation. So far, Bannon has not been connected to the investigation… That’s not the case for Kushner. Just as Bannon seemed to reach a low point in his relationship with Trump, Kushner’s role in the Russia probe emerged as the most important piece of White House intrigue… The second change since Bannon’s low point was that a decision on whether to withdraw from the Paris climate accord finally needed to be made. It was the most important fight pitting Bannon against Jared and Ivanka yet. And it played to all of Bannon’s strengths.”

Quote of the Day

“Donald Trump doesn’t know anything about policy. Donald Trump doesn’t know anything about politics. Donald Trump doesn’t know anything about anything. He can get up and give a good speech. You listen to him talk about any topic and he wanders from sentence to sentence to sentence. So Steve Bannon is now the President of the United States. And that was more clear yesterday than ever before.”

— “Morning Joe” host Joe Scarborough, quoted by Mediaite.