Stephen Bannon

Trump Offers Support for Targeted GOP Senators

President Trump “called three Republican senators this week and expressed support for their 2018 re-election bids, aligning with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in the senator’s intra-party feud with Steve Bannon,” Politico reports.

“Trump dialed GOP Sens. John Barrasso of Wyoming, Deb Fischer of Nebraska and Roger Wicker of Mississippi … He promised to help the three senators against any insurgent challengers … and said he hoped they would be reelected. The calls are expected to eventually be followed by formal endorsements.”

How Roy Moore Fits Into Bannon’s War on the GOP

Time: “Moore is not only a culture warrior. He is a populist Christian and a soldier in the larger Republican revolution that is rooted in frustration with Washington and prizes anti-establishment anger over all else. The same uprising that carried President Donald Trump into the White House looks poised to deliver an even more disruptive figure, one the party cannot control…. And the revolution is about to spread well beyond Dixie. Its field general, former Trump strategist Stephen Bannon, says he is recruiting a slate of insurgent outsiders who will vow to topple the Republican ruling class.”

“Bannon’s strategy is to knit together a disparate coalition, from evangelical populists to small-government libertarians, to take on the proverbial swamp. Already Bannon is jetting around the U.S., meeting with major Republican donors in a bid to convince them to defect from McConnell’s team…. If Moore loses in December, it would shave the party’s cushion in the upper chamber to a single vote—which means there is an outside chance that Moore’s rise and Bannon’s crusade could cost the party control of the Senate, giving Democrats the numbers, and the subpoena power, to thwart every aspect of Trump’s agenda. And in the much more likely event that Moore wins, the Senate is about to become harder to govern—if that’s possible.”

Bannon’s Motley Crew of Challengers

Wall Street Journal: “Steve Bannon, the failed presidential adviser and alt-right sympathizer, has declared war on incumbent Republicans, particularly Sen. Mitch McConnell. From his perch at Breitbart, Mr. Bannon is vowing to defeat officeholders who back Mr. McConnell as majority leader or who won’t sign onto Mr. Bannon’s populist agenda. So what kind of challengers is Mr. Bannon marshaling for the midterms?”

“One is fresh out of prison. Another held a town hall to discuss ‘chemtrail’ theories… In open seats or races with Democratic incumbents, Mr. Bannon is backing consensus mainstream candidates.”

McConnell Warns Trump About Bannon Threat

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) told President Trump that Steve Bannon’s midterm insurgency was detrimental to tax reform and other key elements of the administration’s agenda, the Washington Examiner reports.

“McConnell emphasized that Bannon, Trump’s former chief strategist, was undermining the president’s agenda with plans to recruit and finance primary challenges against Republicans who are some of his most reliable supporters in the Senate.”

What Will Bannon’s ‘War’ Actually Look Like?

BuzzFeed: “Steve Bannon has sucked up gobs of political oxygen with his budding operation to take down establishment Republicans in next year’s elections. But his political army, and the secretive financiers backing it, so far are just loosely organized upstarts in an ecosystem dominated by well-established groups.”

“As the GOP appears to be on the verge of another civil war and reports of Bannon’s 2018 plans dominate headlines, the big question Republicans are still trying to figure out is: Beyond a photo op, what does Bannon’s support actually mean for Michael Grimm and several other candidates he is backing?”

Asked that question directly, a close Bannon ally responded: “It’s actually still TBD.”

Bannon Pledges War on McConnell

Stephen Bannon taunted Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and vowed to challenge any Senate Republican who doesn’t publicly condemn attacks on President Trump, Politico reports.

Said Bannon: “Yeah, Mitch, the donors are not happy. They’ve all left you. We’ve cut your oxygen off… Nobody can run and hide on this one. These folks are coming for you.”

“Referencing Shakespeare, Bannon compared McConnell to Julius Caesar, adding that lawmakers are wondering who will emerge as Brutus, the character who reluctantly joins in on the assassination of Caesar for the benefit of Rome.”

“Bannon also predicted Trump would win in a landslide in 2020, securing 400 electoral votes.”

Trump Encourages Bannon to Go After Incumbents

Wall Street Journal: “The president also has urged voters to oust lawmakers who don’t support his tax overhaul plan this year; he phoned his former chief strategist, Steve Bannon, to offer encouragement after Mr. Bannon appeared on Fox News on Monday vowing to unseat sitting Republicans who don’t actively support the president’s agenda, said two people familiar with the call.”

Bannon Becomes Democrats’ Favorite Bogeyman

McClatchy: “White House staffers are not usually the focus of campaign attacks. But in federal and state races, Democrats across the country have turned this ex-presidential aide — like George W. Bush’s Rove before him — into the avatar of everything wrong and extreme about the GOP, relishing the chance to tie Bannon to Republican candidates.”

“It’s a messaging tactic that has intensified in the last two weeks, as Bannon, the ex-White House chief strategist, ramps up his involvement on behalf of anti-establishment candidates in GOP primaries across the country — giving Democrats a new opportunity to highlight growing GOP disunity.”

Bannon’s Target List

CNN: “Looking at the voting histories of Bannon’s targets, some things stand out for sitting Republican senators to consider: It doesn’t seem to matter much how conservative you were before Trump came to office if you are not fully pro-Trump today. And it doesn’t seem to matter how aligned your voting record is with Trump today if Bannon sees an opportunity to bring in someone who can be a louder, more consistent Trump advocate.”

“Every Republican senator up for re-election in 2018, with the exception of Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, appears to be a target. Bannon also said he plans to back primary challengers in several other races where he thinks a crop of new Republican candidates can pick up seats for the GOP.”

Inside Bannon’s Plan for a GOP Civil War

Stephen Bannon is building a nationwide coalition that — in the words of a former Trump White House official — could “wreak havoc” across the map “if Bannon is even halfways successful,” Axios reports.

“Some of Bannon’s candidates for Republican primaries have privately pledged they’ll oppose Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. It’s becoming a de facto litmus test in Bannon’s recruitment.”

“Bannon vows to support primary challengers against every incumbent Republican senator running for re-election in 2018 — with the sole exception of Ted Cruz. So that could mean seven Bannon GOP challengers, and he has as many as eight Democratic senators in his sights. Bannon is also exploring gubernatorial and House races.”

As Bannon told Sean Hannity: “Nobody’s safe. We’re coming after all of them.”

GOP Worries Bannon Is Putting Senate Majority at Risk

“Republicans on Capitol Hill fear that Stephen Bannon’s plan to wage primary challenges against incumbent senators will put their majority at risk in 2018,” The Hill reports.

“Senate GOP aides warn that Bannon, Trump’s former chief strategist, is not motivated by a desire to advance President Trump’s agenda, but instead by a quest to remake the GOP in his own, nationalist image.”

Said one Senate aide: “If anyone misunderstands what Steve Bannon’s goal is, they have to open their eyes. He doesn’t care if we win or lose the Senate. He doesn’t care about the consequences for the president.”

Bannon Privately Slammed Pence Pick

“Steve Bannon privately slammed the selection of Mike Pence as Donald Trump’s running mate a month before taking over the Trump campaign,” according to emails obtained by BuzzFeed News.

“The email exchange during Bannon’s first stint as executive chairman of Breitbart is of new relevance as Bannon — two months removed from his role as President Trump’s chief strategist — rolls out his plan for a wide-ranging attack against establishment Republicans in 2018. And it reveals that Bannon regarded the Pence pick as something of a deal with the devil necessary to bolster Trump’s standing in the GOP.”

What Steve Bannon Was Thinking One Year Ago

From Devil’s Bargain by Joshua Green:

Privately, even Bannon had moments of doubt. In the depths of Trump’s worst scandal, after the Washington Post broke news of an Access Hollywood tape that captured his lewd comments about women and how he liked to “grab them by the pussy,” Bannon admitted to an associate that Trump might be done for. Yet he wasn’t despondent, not did he seem to view the possibility as a fatal setback to the broader movement. “Our back up strategy,” he said of Clinton, “is to fuck her up so bad she can’t govern.” Psyching himself up to the task, he added, “My goal is that by November eighth, when you hear her name, you’re going to throw up.”

Are Those My Words Coming Out of Bannon’s Mouth?

Thomas Frank: “There’s was a moment in Steve Bannon’s recent 60 Minutes interview when the former presidential advisor was asked what he’s done to drain ‘the swamp,’ the Trumpists’ favorite metaphor for everything they hate about Washington DC. Here was Bannon’s reply: ‘The swamp is 50 years in the making. Let’s talk about the swamp. The swamp is a business model. It’s a successful business model. It’s a donor, consultant, K Street lobbyist, politician … 7 of the 9 wealthiest counties in America ring Washington, DC.'”

“With a shock of recognition I knew immediately what Bannon meant, because what he was talking about was the subject matter of my 2008 book, The Wrecking Crew – the interconnected eco-system of corruption that makes Washington, DC so rich.”

“My critique of Washington was distinctly from the left, and it astonished me to hear something very close to my argument coming from the mouth of one of the nation’s most prominent conservatives. But in fact, Bannon has a long history of reaching out to the left – you might say, of swiping its populist language and hijacking its causes.”