Steve Bannon, President Trump’s chief strategist, gave a bizarre interview to the progressive magazine The Prospect in which he discussed plans to get rid of his rivals in the administration, called the far-right “clowns”, and undercut the president’s policy on North Korea. The contents of the interview make it highly unlikely that is was authorized by Chief of Staff John Kelly. So is Bannon daring Kelly to fire him?
Mr. Bannon made bold claims that he is engaged in an interdepartmental power struggle of his own making.
“I’m changing out people at East Asian Defense; I’m getting hawks in,” Bannon said. “I’m getting Susan Thornton [acting head of East Asian and Pacific Affairs] out at State.”
With John Kelly in charge of everyone in the West Wing, how does Bannon expect to make such broad changes without the chief-of-staff’s approval?
“That’s a fight I fight every day here,” he said. “We’re still fighting.” Bannon went on to name leaders in Treasury that he was planning to axe.
Bannon went on to discuss North Korea undercutting Trump’s strategy of assured destruction saying that there was no military option for North Korea.
When Bannon was asked about the so-called “alt-right” he basically dismissed them saying that they were a fringe-element full of losers and clowns.
“These guys are a collection of clowns,” he added. He went on to say that the administration needed to crush them.
Bannon has since claimed that the interview was off-the-record and that he gave it intending to pull some heat off of Trump – both can’t be true. Instead, it appears that Bannon may be on the way out and this is his last ditch attempt to preserve his position. If he can show how dangerous he is on the outside, he might think that Trump will keep him just to avoid his going rogue.
One day before the interview, President Trump was asked if he still had confidence in Steve Bannon. He answered that he liked Bannon and that he was a nice guy, but gave no indication of his continued confidence in him. This interview with a progressive magazine is not likely to help Bannon’s case.