Stephen Bannon

Bannon’s Allies Scramble to Save Him

Axios: “Steve Bannon’s allies both inside and outside the White House are worried Trump is going to fire him. They’re scrambling this afternoon to figure out a way to persuade the president he’d be making a grave mistake. They argue that getting rid of Bannon will cost Trump among his “America First” constituency, and gain nothing among Democrats or the press.”

“They say Trump’s key to victory is to keep his base motivated. And that means keeping Bannon.”

Mike Allen reports Bannon “is increasingly isolated and will be forced out unless he can adopt a more cooperative approach, a top source told me.”

Bannon Calls Kushner a ‘Cuck’

President Trump’s chief strategist Stephen Bannon has called the president’s senior advisor and son-in-law Jared Kushner a “cuck” and a “globalist” during a time of high tension between the two top aides, several Trump administration officials told the Daily Beast.

The fighting between Kushner and Bannon has been “nonstop” in recent weeks… It’s been an “open secret” that Bannon and Kushner often clash “face-to-face.”

Bannon Denies Threatening to Quit

After a series of high-level White House leaks portraying Steve Bannon as fed up with his job and ready to quit, Axios reports that Trump’s chief strategist has told associates the stories are “100 percent nonsense” and he’s playing for keeps.

Said Bannon: “I love a gunfight.”

“Even for this leaky, rivalrous White House, the Bannon broadside was brutal. Numerous officials torched the senior adviser in media stories, did nothing to soften the Bannon-loses-power narrative and watched gleefully as Drudge and others trumpeted his fall. Truth is, the hatred between the two wings is intense and irreconcilable.”

Bannon Threatened to Quit Over Security Council Ouster

New York Times: “Mr. Bannon resisted the move, even threatening at one point to quit if it went forward, according to a White House official who, like others, insisted on anonymity to discuss internal deliberations. Mr. Bannon’s camp denied that he had threatened to resign and spent the day spreading the word that the shift was a natural evolution, not a signal of any diminution of his outsize influence.”

“His allies said privately that Mr. Bannon had been put on the principals committee to keep an eye on Mr. Trump’s first national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, a retired three-star general who lasted just 24 days before being forced out for misleading Vice President Mike Pence and other White House officials about what he had discussed with Russia’s ambassador. With Mr. Flynn gone, these allies said, there was no need for Mr. Bannon to remain, but they noted that he had kept his security clearance.”

Politico: Mega-donor Rebekah Mercer urged Bannon not to quit.

McMaster Solidifies Control of National Security Council

National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster “quietly slipped out of the White House grounds last week to seek the counsel of one of his aging predecessors, another three-star general who ran the National Security Council in a time of political turmoil and congressional probes,” Politico reports.

“McMaster’s session with 92-year-old Brent Scowcrof… was the clearest indication yet that McMaster, who took the reins of the NSC in February after his predecessor Mike Flynn was ousted, intends to radically depart from the approach taken by Flynn and President Donald Trump’s chief strategist, Steve Bannon, who was removed from his seat on Wednesday.”

Washington Post: “McMaster has become a blunt force within the administration who has made clear to several top officials and the president that he does not want the NSC to have any political elements.”

Bannon Removed from National Security Council

President Trump “reorganized his National Security Council on Wednesday, removing his chief strategist, Stephen Bannon, and downgrading the role of his Homeland Security Adviser, Tom Bossert, according to a person familiar with the decision and a regulatory filing,” Bloomberg reports.

“Under the move, the national intelligence director, Dan Coats, and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine Corps General Joseph Dunford, are again “regular attendees” of the NSC’s principals committee.”

How Steve Bannon Made His Money

Washington Post: “Years before Bannon became the architect of an anti-globalist revolution — working as chief strategist under President Trump to weaken free-trade deals, restrict immigration from a number of majority-Muslim nations and slam corporations that move jobs overseas — he made his fortune as the quintessential global capitalist.”

“An examination of Bannon’s career as an investment banker found that the Bannon of the 1980s and 1990s lived what looks like an alternate reality from the fiery populist of today who recently declared that ‘globalists gutted the American working class and created a middle class in Asia.'”

Politico: Bannon made more than half a million dollars last year from entities tied to big GOP donors.

Bannon Wanted Sessions to Run for President

New York Times: “One evening in January 2013, two guests showed up for dinner at the Capitol Hill townhouse that Bannon liked to call the Breitbart Embassy. One was the man Bannon would later describe to me as his ‘mentor’ Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama. The other was Sessions’s top aide and protégé, a jittery 27-year-old named Stephen Miller…”

“Sessions shared Bannon’s belief that the Republican Party needed to emphasize immigration reduction, border security and the preservation of working-class jobs through trade policy rather than courting Latino voters with a bill he regarded as ‘amnesty.’ … At some point during the five-hour dinner, Bannon recalls blurting out to Sessions, ‘We have to run you for president.’ Just two years earlier, in 2011, he made a similar pitch to Sarah Palin, after completing a documentary about her called “The Undefeated.” Palin demurred. She was enjoying her life of celebrity and wealth, she had done little to immerse herself in policy minutiae and she was no doubt unsettled by Bannon’s warning that she stood little chance of defeating Obama.”

Is Steve Bannon Sabotaging the Health Bill?

Gabriel Sherman: “The failure to repeal and replace Obamacare would be a stinging defeat for Trump. But it would be an even bigger defeat for Paul Ryan, who has all but staked his Speakership on passing this bill. And in the hall of mirrors that is Washington, the big winner to emerge out of the health-care debacle could be Steve Bannon. That’s because Bannon has been waging war against Ryan for years. For Bannon, Ryan is the embodiment of the ‘globalist-corporatist’ Republican elite. A failed bill would be Bannon’s best chance yet to topple Ryan and advance his nationalist-populist economic agenda.”

“Publicly, Bannon has been working to help the bill pass. But privately he’s talked it down in recent days. According to a source close to the White House, Bannon said that he’s unhappy with the Ryan bill because it ‘doesn’t drive down costs’ and was ‘written by the insurance industry.’ While the bill strips away many of Obamacare’s provisions, it does not go as far as Bannon would wish to ‘deconstruct the administrative state’ in the realm of health care. Furthermore, Bannon has been distancing himself from the bill to insulate himself from political fallout of it failing. He’s told people that Trump economic adviser Gary Cohn — a West Wing rival — has run point on it.”

The Making of an Economic Nationalist

The Wall Street Journal has a must-read profile of White House adviser Stephen Bannon:

There were many factors that turned Steve Bannon into a divisive political firebrand. But his decision to embrace “economic nationalism” and vehemently oppose the forces and institutions of globalization, he says, stems from his upbringing, his relationship with his father and the meaning those AT&T shares held for the family.

“Everything since then has come from there,” he says. “All of it.”

The Nomad Who Rose to be Trump’s Top Adviser

“In the three years before he became Donald Trump’s chief strategist, Stephen K. Bannon lived as a virtual nomad in a quest to build a populist political insurgency,” the Washington Post reports.

“No presidential adviser in recent memory has followed such a mysterious, peripatetic path to the White House. It was as though he was a man with no fixed address… In the digital age, when most Americans leave a clear footprint of their whereabouts, Bannon left a meandering trail filled with ambiguity, contradictions and questions.”

The Book to Understand Steve Bannon

White House adviser Stephen Bannon tells Jonathan Swan that The Revolt of the Elites by Christopher Lasch is one of his favorite books and helps explain the current moment.

“Reading The Revolt of the Elites gives you a deeper appreciation of the populist nationalist movement that propelled Trump to the presidency. It also gives you deeper insight into how Bannon thinks — his disdain for experts and party establishments, his skepticism on multinationals, his commitment to information warfare and the Breitbart comments section, his antipathy toward ‘globalists’ and his particular distrust of the West Coast elite Lasch writes feel more loyalty to Hong Kong and Singapore than they do to ‘Middle America.'”

Key passage: “At this point in our history the best qualification for high office may well be a refusal to cooperate with the media’s program of self-aggrandizement. A candidate with the courage to abstain from ‘debates’ organized by the media would automatically distinguish himself from the others and command a good deal of public respect.”

Bannon Once Praised Joseph McCarthy

Donald Trump’s chief White House strategist Steve Bannon said in 2013 that Sen. Joseph McCarthy was right in his 1950s campaign claiming widespread Communist infiltration into the United States government, CNN reports.

Said Bannon, in an interview with a book author: “Alger Hiss is a hero, right? Richard Nixon’s a villain? Joe McCarthy is a villain. Your book makes very plain that these guys were right. The place was infested with either traitors that were on the direct payroll of Soviet military intelligence or fellow-travelers who were kind of compliant in helping these guys get along. I mean, there’s absolutely no question of it. How has pop culture so changed it that white is black and black is white?”

What Steve Bannon Is Thinking

Michael Gerson: “As the ideologist in Trump’s inner circle, Bannon is a practitioner of Newt Gingrich’s mystic arts. Take some partially valid insight at the crossroads of pop economics, pop history and pop psychology; declare it an inexorable world-historic force; and, by implication, take credit for being the only one who sees the inner workings of reality.”

“For Bannon, it has something to do with ‘the fourth turning,’ or maybe the fifth progression, or the third cataclysm. At any rate, it apparently involves cycles of discontent and disruption. Lots of disruption. Across the West, as he sees it, the victims of globalization — the victims of immigration, free trade and internationalism in general — are rising against their cosmopolitan oppressors. Institutions will crash and rise in new forms. And this restless world spirit takes human form in . . . Nigel Farage and Donald Trump.”

“Like many philosophies that can be derived entirely from an airport bookstore, this one has an element of truth. The beneficiaries of the liberal international order have not paid sufficient attention to the human costs of rapid economic change… But there is a problem with the response of economic nationalism and ethno-nationalism. It is morally degraded and dangerous to the country.”