The Slatest

The Big Steve Bannon Profile in Vanity Fair Makes Him Sound Very Steve Bannon-y

Steve Bannon speaks before the arrival of Republican Senatorial candidate Roy Moore during a campaign event at Jordan's Activity Barn on December 11, 2017 in Midland City, Alabama.
Steve Bannon speaks before the arrival of Republican Senatorial candidate Roy Moore during a campaign event at Jordan’s Activity Barn on December 11, 2017 in Midland City, Alabama. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Vanity Fair’s Gabriel Sherman published a lengthy profile of former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon on Thursday. The story, worth a read in full, offered the most in-depth looks into Bannon’s role in conservative politics since leaving the White House this past summer, as well as the most detailed description of how that departure played out.

Here are some of the most compelling anecdotes and quotes from Sherman’s reporting.

Bannon says he’s faced multiple “assassination plots.”

Tej Gill, a goateed ex-Navy SEAL security guard with tattoo-sleeved arms, stuck close by Bannon’s side. “I’ve had a couple assassination plots,” Bannon told me, “I got it from an intelligence source.”

Bannon has told friends he may run for president.

In October, Bannon called an adviser and said he would consider running for president if Trump doesn’t run for re-election in 2020. Which Bannon has told people is a realistic possibility.

Bannon has mocked the president’s maturity level.

“He’s like an 11-year-old child,” Bannon joked to a friend in November.

Bannon is not very fond of the Bushes.

“The Bush presidency is the most destructive presidency in history. James Buchanan included. It’s not even close,” Bannon said when I brought up the Bushes. … “I really detest them. I mean, the old man is a pervert. He’s a pervert. Grabbing these girls and grabbing their asses?

Bannon says the first travel ban was meant to cause chaos.

“Why did we drop the travel ban on a Friday evening? Because the resistance is our friend,” he told me. “Our thing is to throw gasoline on the resistance. I love it. When they”—the Democrats—“talk about identity politics, they’re playing into our hands.

Bannon all but accused Jared Kushner of trying to collude with the Russians, drawing a response from Kushner’s attorney.

“He’s taking meetings with Russians to get additional stuff. This tells you everything about Jared,” Bannon told me. “They were looking for the picture of Hillary Clinton taking the bag of cash from Putin. That’s his maturity level.”
“Steve Bannon may regret not being in the White House anymore, but that is not an excuse for him peddling false stories about Jared or anyone else,” said Kushner’s attorney Abbe Lowell.

Bannon says he consulted with a former Clinton official to pick his brain over strategic responses to a special investigation.

[H]e consulted with Bill Clinton’s former lawyer Lanny Davis about how the Clintons responded to Ken Starr’s probe. “We were so disciplined. You guys don’t have that,” Bannon recalls Davis advising him. “That always haunted me when he said that,” Bannon told me.

Bannon says he called Ivanka “the queen of leaks” to her face in the Oval Office.

The relationship between Kushner and Bannon worsened through the spring. At one point, Bannon said, Trump called an Oval Office meeting to broker peace. Attending were Bannon, Kushner, and Ivanka Trump. She blamed Bannon for the leaks.
“She’s the queen of leaks,” Bannon argued back.
“You’re a fucking liar!” Ivanka said. Trump tried to adjudicate, but the meeting did little to diffuse tensions.

Bannon says Attorney Jeff Sessions thinks it’s “Divine Providence” that put him in office and will not resign for that reason.

The next day, Bannon said he called Sessions into a meeting. He knew Sessions had already tried to resign once. “Look, I have a question for you,” Bannon said. “Is there any doubt in your mind that it was Divine Providence, the Hand of God that got us this victory?”
“No doubt,” Sessions replied.
“You’re sure?” Bannon continued.
“There’s no doubt.”
“Then where’s your commitment here?”
“I will never leave,” Sessions assured him. “I may get fired, but I’ll never leave.” (A Justice Department spokesperson did not comment.)

Bannon takes being called a Nazi with a sense of humor.

“Later Nazi! Have fun at your Klan rally!” A kid in a green hoodie was heckling Bannon as he led his entourage through baggage claim at John F. Kennedy Airport after touching down from Tokyo.
“That’s what I call a New York good morning,” Bannon said, flashing a satisfied grin.

Bannon compared the charges against Moore to one of the few allegations against Trump that seemed to have little credibility.

Ivanka Trump told the Associated Press “there’s a special place in hell for people who prey on children.” Bannon was incredulous she’d make the comment. “What about the allegations about her dad and that 13-year-old?” he said, referring to the California woman who alleged Trump raped her when she was a teen (the suit has since been dropped.)

Bannon has some thoughts about politically conservative Jewish women.

He was due in Palm Beach to deliver a keynote speech at Restoration Weekend, the annual gathering of right-wingers hosted by former New-Leftist-turned-conservative provocateur David Horowitz. “The thing about Restoration Weekend,” Bannon had told me earlier, “is you got a lot of Jewish Palm Beach matrons who used to be superhot. They were all left-wing in the 60s. That was before they locked down successful Palm Beach business guys. Now they’re hardcore. You half expect them to throw their panties at Horowitz. They’re all Trump people.”

Bannon is capable of being funny when mocking Sen. Marco Rubio.

Bannon said his candidates aren’t wing nuts, they’re just regular people. “They’re not blow-dries,” he said. “I don’t want the Marco Rubios that have been in the R.N.C. since they were 9 years old with a briefcase.”