Steve Bannon on '60 Minutes': "I'm a Street Fighter"
The former White House chief strategist, in his first extended interview since leaving his position in the Trump administration, said that National Economic Council director Gary Cohn should "absolutely" have resigned after criticizing Trump's comments about Charlottesville.
In the same way that Anthony Scaramucci embraced the "Mooch" persona the media gave him, another former White House aide, Steve Bannon, has embraced the way he's been described, as something of a swashbuckling flamethrower.
"The media image I think is pretty accurate. I'm a street fighter," Bannon told Charlie Rose in an interview to be broadcast on 60 Minutes on Sunday evening, Bannon's first extended interview since leaving the White House. Portions of the interview aired on CBS This Morning on Thursday.
Bannon told Rose that he will be President Trump's "wingman outside," now that he's left the White House and returned to his post as chairman of the administration-friendly Breitbart News. But it's hard to know whether Trump feels the same way about Bannon.
In perhaps the newsiest bit of the partial transcript released in advance of the show airing on Sunday, Bannon said that National Economic Council director Gary Cohn should "absolutely" have resigned after criticizing Trump's comments about Charlottesville.
"If you don't like what he's doing and you don't agree with it, you have an obligation to resign," Bannon said.
Bannon, who ran Trump's campaign for the last few months before the election and came into the White House as chief strategist, defended Trump's controversial remarks about the melee in Charlottesville that left one person dead. "By the way, after the Charlottesville situation, that's what I told [chief of staff General John Kelly], I was the only guy that came out and tried to defend him," he said. "I was the only guy that said, 'He's talking about something, taking it up to a higher level.'"
But Bannon said that "neo-Nazis and neo-Confederates and the Klan" are "absolutely awful," even though Trump, in his remarks, was seen as equivocating the behavior of far-right groups and progressive groups that came to counter-protest in Charlottesville.
Later in the day CBS Evening News released another preview of the interview, this time with Bannon saying "the Republican establishment is trying to nullify the 2016 election."
When asked to clarify who exactly he was referring to, he explained, "I think Mitch McConnell, and to a degree, Paul Ryan. They do not want Donald Trump's populist, economic nationalist agenda to be implemented. It's very obvious."
In the clip, Rose counters Bannon's comments by saying, "You are attacking on many fronts people who you need to help you to get things done."
In response, Bannon said, "They're not going to help you unless they're put on notice. They're going to be held accountable if they do not support the President of the United States."
"And so therefore, now that you're out of the White House, you're going to war with them?" the host asks. To this the ousted White House aid replies, "Absolutely."