The Slatest

Bannon Pushed Trump to Use Health Care Vote to Write Up “Enemies List”

White House chief strategist Steve Bannon leaves a meeting of the House Republican caucus at the U.S. Capitol on March 23 in Washington.

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Following the embarrassing collapse of Trumpcare, everyone is asking the same question: What went wrong? And while there are several different angles to answer the question, there seems to be one constant, the president’s chief strategist Steve Bannon has no patience for negotiating with Congress and is more comfortable with threats than compromise. The New York Times reports that Bannon kept on pushing President Donald Trump to pressure the health care vote to move forward so that an “enemies list” could be compiled of all those who voted against the measure. The president’s legislative affairs director, Marc Short, was also pushing the same idea.

Unsurprisingly, Speaker Paul Ryan repeatedly told the president that making enemies out of fellow Republicans in the House was not the smartest idea considering that he would need them for other pieces of legislation in the future. In the end, Trump decided to listen to Ryan and back down.

The Times story appears to confirm earlier reports from the Daily Beast that quoted an official saying that Bannon called on the president “to keep a shit list on this.” The unnamed official added: “Not sure if I’d call it an ‘enemies list,’ per se, but I wouldn’t want to be on it.” Another aide described it as a “hit list” for Republicans who were not loyal to the president.

Earlier, Bannon had basically told Republican lawmakers they had no choice but to vote for the bill. In Axios, Mike Allen writes that when members of the House Freedom Caucus visited the White House earlier this week, Bannon had a very undiplomatic opening line: “Guys, look. This is not a discussion. This is not a debate. You have no choice but to vote for this bill,” Bannon said. Needless to say, the lawmakers were decidedly unimpressed. “The last time someone ordered me to something, I was 18 years old. And it was my daddy. And I didn’t listen to him, either,” one lawmaker answered.