Stephen K. Bannon — President Trump’s former chief strategist -- appeared in an interview with Charlie Rose on CBS’s “60 Minutes” and had tough words for Republicans he left behind after his August departure from the White House. Bannon asked Trump’s top economic adviser, Gary Cohn, to step down, while accusing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc) of “trying to nullify the 2016 election.” Since leaving the White House, this was Bannon’s first television interview. He is again serving as executive chairman at Breitbart News.
Bannon blamed Republicans for their failure to repeal and replace Barack Obama’s signature Affordable Care Act health-care law. In a warning to the GOP, Bannon -- who called himself a “street fighter,” said, “They’re not going to help you unless they’re put on notice.” He told Rose, “They’re going to be held accountable if they do not support the president of the United States. Right now there’s no accountability.”
Bannon criticized Trump administration insiders for allegedly leaking their own displeasure over how the president handled the violence in Charlottesville VA, which pitted leftists and white supremacists against each other, and where a torch-lit march featured Nazi symbols and salutes. One person was killed by a supposed supporter of the white supremacists.
“You can tell him, ‘Hey, maybe you can do it a better way.’ But if you’re going to break, then resign. If you’re going to break with him, resign,” he said. “If you find it unacceptable, you should resign.”
Bannon mentioned Cohn by name and said he should have “absolutely” resigned. Cohn, who directs the National Economic Council, criticized Trump’s response in an interview with the Financial Times.
Bannon became part of the Trump campaign apparatus in August 2016. While he has reportedly clashed with Trump’s Chief of Staff John F. Kelly and son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, Bannon remains close to Trump. Regarding the much-discussed “Access Hollywood” tape in which a hot mic recorded Trump talking about encounters with women, Bannon dismissed it as “locker room talk.” However, he characterized it also as a “litmus test” for loyalty to Trump. Bannon recalled that Trump’s first chief of staff, former Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, urged candidate Trump to either leave the field or face a historic electoral loss. Also, Bannon said that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R-N.J.) lost a possible Cabinet position because of his response to the video. “I told him: ‘The plane leaves at 11 o’clock in the morning. If you’re on the plane, you’re on the team.’ ” Christie, Bannon said, “Didn’t make the plane.”
On policy matters, Bannon was critical of the recent White House decision to rescind protections for so-called “DREAMers” -- the 690,000 illegal immigrants brought to the country as minors -- that gives Congress six months to legislate a solution. Bannon said that it may cost the Republicans control of the House of Representatives in 2018. “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 that will be every bit as vitriolic as 2013,” Bannon said. “And to me, doing that in the springboard of primary season for 2018 is extremely unwise.”
In the area of foreign policy, he said that American elites are wrong about China. China, he said, is waging an economic war against the United States. The United States, he said, is not waging such a war against China.