In a new interview with The Hill, Steve Bannon has inserted himself into some of the biggest controversies and conflicts facing the Republican Party as it heads into the midterm elections. And with his track record of stirring up the pot, it is certain that Bannon will continue to disrupt the status quo while also seeking to increase his own political influence.
During the interview Bannon took on some of his favorite figures from the GOP establishment: Paul Ryan, John Kelly and the Koch Brothers.
“Bannon goes after “con artist” Kochs, “lame duck” Ryan, “diminished” Kelly in explosive interview”
— The Hill (@thehill) August 3, 2018
Possibly his most outrageous comments concerned the billionaire Kochs who he accused of running “a conscious scam” and a “con job.” He seems to hold great disdain for the Kochs’ fundraising and political network which has been credited with supporting conservative causes for many years by contributing tens of millions of dollars.
The Kochs, however, harshly criticized President Trump at a seminar last weekend, saying the president was divisive and misguided on trade and immigration, two of Bannon’s chief areas of concern. Charles Koch in an interview went so far as to say that he would be open to supporting Democrats in this year’s midterm elections.
And now Bannon is striking back at the Kochs, who he views as part of the problem and not part of the solution that he envisions for the party, the country and the world.
“The Koch network is a conscious scam,” Bannon said. “It’s an open secret in conservative circles that they are a scam, ok? And that’s why no big donors are with them anymore. They are fleecing these smaller donors…because these guys haven’t gotten the word. But it’s a total scam. Those aren’t donors. Those are marks. This is a con job.”
James Davis, spokesman for the Koch Network, responded to Bannon’s comments by saying:
“We just had our largest summer seminar ever with more than 500 attendees. Our discussion focused on uniting the country to help remove barriers that are preventing people from reaching their potential. Toward that end, we look forward to working with anyone whenever possible, to help people improve their lives.”
Bannon’s comments about the Kochs were part of a broader criticism he has of the GOP because he says it has not changed enough to respond to the excitement and energy for Trump that exists among his base of supporters.
“The apparatus — the donor class — by and large I think still opposes President Trump, particularly the larger donors,” Bannon opined. “GOP candidates need to get in lockstep with the president,” he added.
Bannon also said that Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) “should have been removed” as soon as he announced his decision not to seek reelection and is “retiring very simply because he never supported President Trump.”
Concerning White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, who was instrumental in Bannon’s departure from the White House staff, Bannon said his power is “definitely diminished” and “he is chief of staff in name only.”
“Gen. Kelly is there for more administrative matters,” Bannon said.
Steve Bannon is a disrupter, and his latest interview is one more attempt by him to create conflict within the GOP.
In Europe, it has been reported that he is trying to create a right-wing group to tear apart the European Union.
We also have reported that Bannon sought to use personal information collected online to promote “a culture war,” according to a whistleblower from the now-defunct political data firm Cambridge Analytica.
It’s not clear what his endgame is, or if his attempts at tearing apart American society will be successful, but it is certainly clear that Steve Bannon is not fading into the sunset. He appears to have the intention of causing as much trouble as he can this election year and for the foreseeable future.
I am a lifelong Democrat with a passion for social justice and progressive issues. I have degrees in writing, economics and law from the University of Iowa.