Steve Bannon, the lightning rod strategic adviser to President Donald Trump who either was dismissed from his White House post earlier today or exited on his own, has spoken out in an interview with the conservative-leaning The Weekly Standard.
In an exit interview of sorts that certainly will serve as a blueprint of what to expect now that he is back as executive chairman of Breitbart News, Bannon said he’d continue to “focus on going after the establishment” but that “the Trump presidency that we fought for, and won, is over.”
“We still have a huge movement, and we will make something of this Trump presidency,” he told the Standard. “But that presidency is over. It’ll be something else. And there’ll be all kinds of fights, and there’ll be good days and bad days, but that presidency is over.”
Bannon said his departure was voluntary, timed to coincide with the one-year anniversary of his joining the Trump campaign as its CEO, three months before the election. His nationalist, populist messaging honed via Brietbart helped Trump win, and it was Bannon who engineered that message in Trump’s dire inauguration address, which painted a harsh picture of a diminished nation (remember “American carnage”?) His exit came after months of increasing battles within the Trump administration pitting Bannon’s populists against Trump’s family and members of the Cabinet including National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster.
Bannon told the Standard he blamed “the Republican establishment” for his populist agenda failing to gain ground. “The Republican establishment has no interest in Trump’s success on this,” he said. “They’re not populists, they’re not nationalists, they had no interest in his program. Zero. It was a half-hearted attempt at Obamacare reform, it was no interest really on the infrastructure, they’ll do a very standard Republican version of taxes.
“What Trump ran on—border wall, where is the funding for the border wall, one of his central tenets, where have they been? Have they rallied around the Perdue-Cotton immigration bill? On what element of Trump’s program, besides tax cuts—which is going to be the standard marginal tax cut—where have they rallied to Trump’s cause? They haven’t.”
Bannon will look to do his work now via Breitbart. He already oversaw today’s evening editorial meeting, with Breitbart editor-in-chief Alex Marlow saying in the site’s story announcing Bannon’s return: “The populist-nationalist movement got a lot stronger today. Breitbart gained an executive chairman with his finger on the pulse of the Trump agenda.”
The Breitbart headline on that story? ” ‘Populist Hero’ Stephen K. Bannon Returns Home To Breitbart.”
“I feel jacked up,” Bannon told the Standard. “Now I’m free. I’ve got my hands back on my weapons. Someone said, ‘It’s Bannon the Barbarian.’ I am definitely going to crush the opposition. There’s no doubt. I built a f*cking machine at Breitbart. And now I’m about to go back, knowing what I know, and we’re about to rev that machine up. And rev it up we will do.”