What is wrong with Steve Bannon, besides the obvious? The former Editor-in-Chief at Breitbart, who is actually responsible for Breitbart’s shift to white nationalist rhetoric, called progressive outlet The American Prospect out of the blue. What followed was a Scaramucci-like phone call in which Bannon appeared to turn on Trump and discuss going after his enemies in the administration.
Robert Kuttner, co-founder and co-editor of The American Prospect, was, to put it mildly, surprised to get Bannon’s call. Kuttner says:
[He] minced no words describing his efforts to neutralize his rivals at the Departments of Defense, State, and Treasury. ‘They’re wetting themselves,’ he said, proceeding to detail how he would oust some of his opponents at State and Defense.”
We have to wonder why it is he thinks they’re so scared. But regardless, Bannon made it sound like Trump is all talk and no action on the hard line against China:
That’s a fight I fight every day here. We’re still fighting. There’s Treasury and [National Economic Council chair] Gary Cohn and Goldman Sachs lobbying. We gotta do this. The president’s default position is to do it, but the apparatus is going crazy. Don’t get me wrong. It’s like, every day.”
He said that to a progressive outlet. He implied he has no faith in Trump, and displayed disloyalty to Trump, in talking about any of this with Kuttner. Trump does not take kindly to displays of disloyalty.
The plan is for Bannon to replace his rivals with trade hawks who will take the hard line on China that he believes we need, and on which he seems to believe Trump is being lazy. How he plans on doing that is anyone’s guess – Kuttner didn’t actually say.
All of that is interesting enough, but in addition to willingly talking to a progressive outlet without specifying whether it was on the record (and having run Breitbart, there’s no way he’s naïve about that kind of thing), he also turned against his own boss on another front.
Some suspect Bannon of being the source of the White House leaks that have so infuriated Trump since the instant he set foot inside the White House. His phone call was in response to a column Kuttner wrote about how China was profiting from our standoff with North Korea – hence the discussion above. But in that column, Kuttner wasn’t exactly nice to Trump:
In Kim [Jong Un], Trump has met his match. The risk of two arrogant fools blundering into a nuclear exchange is more serious than at any time since October 1962.”
Bannon’s response to that should have been angrily defensive, at the very least. Instead, he said:
It’s a great honor to finally track you down. I’ve followed your writing for years and I think you and I are in the same boat when it comes to China. You absolutely nailed it.”
Kuttner fully expected to get shredded, and instead, here’s Bannon praising him, his writing, and his understanding of our situation with China and North Korea. Trump won’t like that, either. Trump may well like what Bannon said in the interview about the turmoil following Charlottesville. Even as he calls the Nazis and white supremacists “clowns” and “losers, he sees Charlottesville as a political win for Trump because he thinks the Democrats are exacerbating the racial divide in this country, so things like Charlottesville will make it easier to “crush them,” in his words. Much of the rest of this interview makes little sense, and it may well spell the end of Bannon’s tenure at the White House (which was already reportedly in danger). You can read all of it here.
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