Donald Trump’s chief strategist Steve Bannon is now firmly in Anthony Scaramucci territory after a revealing phone call to the editor of a left-wing publication saw him dismiss the Charlottesville protesters as “a collection of clowns”; reveal that the U.S. was losing an “economic war” with China; and undermine his own president by saying “there is no military solution” to North Korea’s nuclear threats.
Bannon’s comments were published late Wednesday by American Prospect, a left-leaning publication that had just equated Trump to North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, referring to them as “arrogant fools.”
Bannon is already on thin ice with newly appointed chief of Staff John Kelly reportedly unhappy with the influence he wields in the White House. When asked about Bannon’s future, Trump said Tuesday: “We’ll see.”
According to allies, Bannon did not believe he was conducting an on-the-record interview with the site’s co-founder and co-editor Robert Kuttner, leading to an obvious comparison with Anthony Scaramucci, who was fired as communications director following a foul-mouthed tirade against his colleagues in a phone call with New Yorker reporter Ryan Lizza.
Bannon is hardly naive when it comes to the media, and in interview to the New York Times Wednesday, he made similar remarks on the record. As Kuttner put it: ‘Steve Bannon is not exactly Bambi when it comes to dealing with the press. He’s probably the most media-savvy person in America.”
Here are the key takeaways from Bannon’s bonkers interview.
“To me the economic war with China is everything. And we have to be maniacally focused on that. If we continue to lose it, we’re five years away, I think, ten years at the most, of hitting an inflection point from which we’ll never be able to recover. We’re going to run the tables on these guys. We’ve come to the conclusion that they’re in an economic war and they’re crushing us.”
On white supremacists
“Ethno-nationalism—it’s losers. It’s a fringe element. I think the media plays it up too much, and we gotta help crush it, you know, uh, help crush it more. These guys are a collection of clowns.”
On North Korea
“There’s no military solution, forget it. Until somebody solves the part of the equation that shows me that ten million people in Seoul don’t die in the first 30 minutes from conventional weapons, I don’t know what you’re talking about, there’s no military solution here, they got us.”
On race and Democrats
“The longer they talk about identity politics, I got ’em. I want them to talk about racism every day. If the left is focused on race and identity, and we go with economic nationalism, we can crush the Democrats.”