The Slatest

Bannon Calls Himself a “Street Fighter,” Declares War on GOP Establishment

Stephen Bannon talks to 60 Minutes in an interview broadcast on Sunday.

Screenshot/60 Minutes

When Stephen Bannon left his role as President Trump’s chief strategist last month, he vowed to continue fighting for his former boss. Now, in an interview with CBS’s 60 Minutes, Bannon made clear that his enemies list is long. But at the top of his list is the GOP establishment. “The Republican establishment is trying to nullify the 2016 election. That’s a brutal fact we have to face,” Bannon said. “They do not want Donald Trump’s populist, economic nationalist agenda to be implemented. It’s very obvious.”

As much as he talks against the career politicians now, Bannon recognized that the “original sin” of Trump’s administration was how “we totally embraced the establishment.” At the end of the day it was a necessity “’cause you had to staff a government.” He also didn’t mince words when he was asked to comment on the criticism that Trump receives on national security from members of his own party. “I hold these people in contempt, total and complete contempt,” Bannon said, calling members of the George W. Bush administration “idiots.”

Bannon also emphasized that Trump won’t ever stop tweeting, no matter what the “pearl-clutching mainstream media” think. “He knows he’s speaking directly to the people who put him in office when he uses Twitter. And it sometimes is not in the custom and tradition of what the opposition party deems is appropriate. You’re—you’re absolutely correct, it’s not. And he’s not gonna stop,” Bannon said. The former chief strategist said Trump’s chief of staff, John Kelly, is “not going to be able to control it either because it’s Donald Trump.”

Bannon also made it clear how much he, and Trump, prize loyalty. He called the Access Hollywood tapes a “litmus test” because it showed who really supported Trump. One of those who failed to fully back Trump was Chris Christie, and it cost him a Cabinet position, Bannon said. He also blasted Gary Cohn, the president’s chief economics adviser, who criticized Trump’s remarks on Charlottesville. “You can tell him, ‘Hey, maybe you can do it a better way.’ But if you’re going to break, then resign,” he said. “If you don’t like what he’s doing and you don’t agree with it, you have an obligation to resign.”