New York, N.Y. — In an unapologetic CBS interview on Sunday night’s “60 Minutes”, former Trump strategist Steve Bannon took on everyone from his former boss to defeated Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. During his first interview since leaving the White House, Bannon raged against “pearl-clutching mainstream media,” his former West Wing colleagues and even the Roman Catholic Church.
Speaking to interviewer Charlie Rose (https://www.cbsnews.com/news/60-minutes-breitbart-steve-bannon-declares-war-on-the-gop/), Bannon said the president’s biggest enemies aren’t Democrats, but some of his fellow Republicans, and alleged that some in the GOP are “trying to nullify the 2016 election.”
“They do not want Donald Trump’s populist, economic nationalist agenda to be implemented,” Bannon told Rose. “It’s very obvious.”
“Oh, Mitch McConnell when we first met him, I mean, he was– he was– he– he said, I think in one of the first meetings– in Trump Tower with the president– as we’re wrapping up, he basically says, ‘I don’t want to hear any more of this ‘drain the swamp’ talk,’” Bannon said after Rose asked him for an example.
“He says, ‘I can’t– I can’t hire any smart people,’ because everybody’s all over him for reporting requirements and– and the pay, et cetera, and the scrutiny. You know, ‘You gotta back off that.’ The ‘drain the swamp’ thing was– is Mitch McConnell was day one did not want to– did not want to go there. Wanted us to back off.”
Asked if he wound now be “going to war” against establishment members of the GOP who are out to do the president harm, Bannon replied, “absolutely”.
But despite his obvious protection of Trump, Bannon’s former boss could not escape criticism of his own. When asked about the president’s decision to fire former FBI head James Comey, a visibly frustrated Bannon called the decision the “biggest mistake in modern political history”.
Had Comey not been fired, said Bannon, the Justice Department investigation into possible links between the Trump campaign and Russia’s election interference would not have been handed over to the special counsel Robert Meuller.
“We would not have the Mueller investigation and the breadth that clearly Mr. Mueller is going for,” said Bannon.
The chairman of Breitbart News also clarified the ongoing controversy over his leaving his role in the president’s administration, which many claimed was due to being fired.
Not true, said Bannon, saying his intent all along has been to be the president’s “wingman outside for the entire time” he is in office.
“Our purpose is to support Donald Trump,” he said. “I cannot take the fight to who we have to take the fight to when I’m an adviser to the president as a federal government employee.”
Speaking out on the president’s controversial decision to end DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program put in place by former president Barack Obama, Bannon warned his fellow Republicans they may have to be prepared to face a “civil war”.
“I’m worried about losing the House now because of this,” Bannon said over the battle on what to do with about 800,000 immigrants known as “Dreamers”. “If this goes all the way down to its logical conclusion, in February and March it will be a civil war inside the Republican Party and to me, doing that in the springboard of primary season for 2018 is extremely unwise.”
On that same topic, Bannon also slammed the Catholic Church for its stance on supporting the rights of illegal immigrants to stay in the United States.
“The bishops have been terrible about this,” Bannon said of church leaders.
“You know why? Because unable to really to come to grips with the problems in the church, they need illegal aliens, they need illegal aliens to fill the churches.”
On the president’s former political rival Hillary Clinton, Bannon said he could sum up his opinion of her in a single statement: “Hillary Clinton’s not very bright”.
Slamming Clinton for a speech she gave while campaigning last year attempting to connect the “alt-right” and white supremacists to the Trump campaign, Bannon called her comments “nonsense.”
“Everybody says she’s so smart, so much smarter than Donald Trump. She doesn’t really have a grasp . . . on what’s important and what’s not, and that’s what’s essential in a leader. Donald Trump has a grasp on what’s important and what’s marginalia.”