WASHINGTON — Steve Bannon, in his first major interview since stepping down as Donald Trump’s chief strategist, lashed out at the mainstream media, saying it’s trying to destroy Trump, and defended the president’s use of Twitter as a necessary way of going over their heads.
Bannon, in an interview with Charlie Rose for “60 Minutes,” also railed against the Washington establishment, and said that the “original sin” of the Trump administration was embracing the establishment, agreeing with Republican congressional leadership’s plans to try to repeal and replace Obamacare at the outset.
His criticisms of the media — which he labeled the “pearl clutching mainstream media” — are hardly surprising, given that he referred to the D.C. press corps as the “opposition party” shortly after Trump took office.
“I don’t think [Trump] needs the Washington Post, and the New York Times, and CBS News,” Bannon told Charlie Rose on Sunday night’s “60 Minutes.” “And I don’t believe that he thinks they’re looking out what’s in his best interest, okay? He’s not going to believe that. I don’t believe that. And you don’t believe that, okay? This is just another standard in judgment that you rain upon him in the effort to destroy Donald Trump.”
Rose had questioned Trump’s use of Twitter.
But Bannon said that Trump “knows he’s speaking directly to the people who put him in office when he uses Twitter. And it is sometimes not in the custom and tradition of what the opposition party deems is appropriate. You’re absolutely correct, it’s not. And he’s not going to stop.”
He also said that Trump’s chief of staff, John Kelly, also is “not going to be able to control it either because it’s Donald Trump. It’s Donald Trump talking directly to the American people. And to say something else, you’re going to get some good there. And every now and again you’re going to get some less good, okay? But you’re just going to have to live with it.”
Bannon said that in the 48 hours after Trump won, a “fundamental decision” was made that “you might call it the original sin of the administration.” That was the embrace of the establishment GOP as a way to staff up the government.
“Our whole campaign was a little bit the island of misfit toys,” Bannon said. “So [Trump] looks around and I’m wearin’ my combat jacket, I haven’t shaved, I got — you know, my hair’s down to here, and he says — he’s — he’s thinkin’. ‘Hey, I’ve gotta put together a government. I’ve gotta really staff up somethin’. I need to embrace the establishment.’”
Bannon suggested that the inability to repeal and replace Obamacare was due in part to GOP leaders who didn’t realize the “wide discrepancy” in the Republican party. Instead, he expressed doubts that Congress would be able to totally repeal it.
He warned that there could be further disunity over the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Trump last week announced that he planned to end the program, but that it would be wound down over a period of six months so Congress could come up with a legislative fix.
Bannon said that his fear my “is that with this six months down range, if we have another huge — 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. And to me, doing that in the springboard of primary season for 2018 is extremely unwise.”
He said that he thinks the program should be ended, and that “as the work permits run out they self deport” and that “there’s no path to citizenship, no path to a green card and — no amnesty. Amnesty is non-negotiable.”