Tag Archives: Stephen Bannon

Bannon offers spot-on comment on Sessions’s recusal

As a general rule I am not inclined to offer praise for a former Donald Trump policy adviser who has been portrayed as the Grim Reaper on “Saturday Night Live.”

However, Stephen Bannon has offered a spot-on analysis of U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s decision to recuse himself from anything relating to the Russia meddling matter in the 2016 presidential election.

Bannon said Sessions made precisely the correct call in backing out. He added that former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani also would have made the same decision had they been put in that position.

Why? They all had direct involvement in the president’s campaign and, thus, could not possibly be trusted to conduct a thorough, fair and unbiased investigation into Russian meddling in the campaign. The question of the moment is whether the president obstructed justice by firing FBI Director James Comey and whether his campaign “colluded” with Russian operatives who had dug up dirt on Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Yet, Trump has been trashing Sessions for making that decision. He has said repeatedly he regrets selecting him as attorney general. Trump has disparaged the leadership at the Justice Department and the FBI.

The president doesn’t understand the complexities of conflict of interest. Sessions got it when he backed out of the Russia matter. Accordingly, Bannon — someone who hasn’t generally served the nation well — happens to be totally correct in his assessment that Trump is wrong to condemn the AG for acting properly.

I do have to chuckle when Bannon keeps insisting that he still admires and respects the president, saying he cherishes his relationship with him. He offers that caveat while reminding him publicly that he doesn’t understand why he is so damn wrong when he ridicules the attorney general.

Wolff squares off against CNN host … and loses

I intend fully to read “Fire and Fury” when it arrives in my mailbox in a few days.

My initial intention was to purchase it off the shelf at Barnes & Noble when it was released, then I decided to order it online, via Amazon. It will arrive soon.

There. That said, I watched “Fire and Fury” author Michael Wolff make an ass of himself on CNN, when host Michael Smerconish sought to ask him what I considered to be a legitimate question.

Smerconish, who told Wolff he “tore through” the book, wanted to know if Wolff misrepresented his intentions to the Trump administration when he gained access to the White House and was allowed freedom to talk to many key aides to Donald J. Trump.

I did not hear any inherent bias in Smerconish’s question. Wolff, though, took extreme offense at the question and the questioner. He ended up saying that Smerconish was “doing the White House’s job” by impugning his integrity.

Actually, Smerconish did nothing of the sort. He asked a perfectly appropriate question in his search for complete context in how Wolff was able to report in his book the statements attributed to the likes of former Trump political strategist Stephen Bannon.

So … Wolff finished the interview. Smerconish has become a sort of media Celebrity of the Moment with his questions and the confrontation they produced with the author of a much-discussed book about the president of the United States.

My advice to Wolff: Settle down, dude. And if you’re going to bristle at questions posed by a middle-of-the-roader like Michael Smerconish, you probably ought to stay away from Sean Hannity and his cohorts at Fox News.

Here’s the relevant portion of the interview. It’s worth your time:

Smerconish vs. Wolff

Muddy probe may be getting a lot muddier

Robert Mueller is up to his armpits in issues to peel away as he seeks to learn the truth about allegations that the Donald Trump presidential campaign colluded with Russians seeking to influence the 2016 election.

Now comes a book, “Fire and Fury,” by journalist Michael Wolff, in which a former key Trump aide — Stephen Bannon — has tossed out words like “unpatriotic” and “treasonous” to describe a meeting between Don Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort and a Russian lawyer.

And, oh yes, it’s getting a lot muddier than it already has gotten.

Mueller, the special counsel appointed by the Justice Department, is now getting an even fuller plate. He might be buried up to his eyebrows in these issues relating to the allegations of collusion.

The president has issued a “cease and desist” order to Bannon; no more talking about the book, he has ordered. He’s also trying — in a stunning example of prior restraint — to keep “Fire and Fury” from being published.

And the media are continuing to report even more astonishing developments. Such as White House counsel Don McGahn being ordered to talk Attorney General Jeff Sessions out of recusing himself from looking into the Russia meddling matter. Um, who issued the order? Might it have been, ohhh, the president himself?

Trump has torched Bannon for speaking to Wolff. That, too, is fascinating in the extreme, considering that Wolff had been given astonishing access to White House sources.

Bannon’s view of the president? He continues to “support” Trump’s agenda and says there’s no daylight between them on the key issues of the day.

My head is spinning like Linda Blair’s noggin in “The Exorcist.”

I am believing that someone has poured sand into the president’s “fine-tuned machine.”

Moreover, the special counsel’s investigation well might have been given more fuel.

I cannot keep up with it. I need a good night’s sleep.

GOP about to engage in un-civil war

Intraparty conflicts aren’t pretty. Just ask any Democrat who got caught in the 1960s-70s battle that damn near destroyed that party in the wake of the Vietnam War.

I am thinking the Republican Party is about to launch a rhetorical bombardment on its own in the aftermath of that stunning loss in Alabama, where Democrat Doug Jones beat Republican Roy Moore in the race for that state’s U.S. Senate seat.

Let’s re-trace a few steps for a brief moment.

  • Moore challenged U.S. Sen. Luther Strange, the Republican appointed to fill the seat vacated by Jeff Sessions, who became U.S. attorney general. Donald Trump endorsed Strange, campaigned for him and then watched him lose the GOP runoff race to Moore, who had been backed by Trump’s former senior White House strategist, Stephen Bannon.
  • Then came the allegations against Moore from several women who accused him of sexual misconduct. “Establishment Republicans” began fleeing Moore. They withdrew their previous endorsement. Senate GOP leaders said he was unfit for a Senate seat. Then the president decided belatedly to endorse Moore, meaning that Trump and Bannon were back on the same team.
  • Moore then lost the election to Jones, a former federal prosecutor. The race was close but it falls outside the margin that triggers an automatic recount. Moore hasn’t yet conceded to Jones. Trump congratulated Jones. Then he tweeted something about how he knew all along that Moore couldn’t win, that the “deck was stacked against him.” What utter crap! The deck was stacked in Moore’s favor, given Alabama’s tradition of backing Republicans over Democrats.

So, what does the Republican Party do now? Does it continue to fight among itself? Bannon considers himself to be a “kingmaker.” His latest candidate for U.S. political royalty has been toppled.

As for Trump? Well, his instincts aren’t so great either. No surprise, given that the president had zero political experience prior to being elected to the highest, most exalted office on Earth.

I sense an un-civil war is about to commence.

Watch this intraparty battle get real hot

Mitt Romney wants to run for the U.S. Senate seat in Utah.

His candidacy will depend on whether Orrin Hatch seeks re-election next year. Hatch, the Senate’s longest-tenured Republican, hasn’t yet made his decision.

But, oh my, this fight is getting nasty before it’s even started.

You see, Mitt is no fan or friend of Donald John Trump. He has called the president a “fraud” and a “phony.” The president’s wing man, former White House strategist Stephen Bannon, has decided to suggest that Mitt was a draft dodger, that his religious mission work in France during the Vietnam War was a tactic to keep him from serving in the military.

Romney’s allies in Utah are coming to his defense. They have blasted Bannon for questioning Romney’s love of country, his patriotism, his character; Bannon even took a swipe at Mitt’s entire family.

Hatch defends his friend

There has been some speculation that Romney, the 2012 GOP presidential nominee, might run even if Hatch decides to seek another term. I would doubt that will occur.

My hope is that Mitt goes for it. I also hope Hatch decides to retire. He’s been on the job for decades. Hatch, at times, has shown an ability and willingness to reach across the aisle to work with Democrats; my guess is that Romney could do the same if he gets elected.

As for Bannon — the guy that Trump and White House chief of staff John Kelly fired — he ought to tone down the tough talk. It’s unbecoming.

What’s more, Romney has done more in service to his country than Bannon ever thought of doing.

Finally, Romney happens to be right about the president, someone I consider to be the phoniest fraud ever to occupy the office. A U.S. Senate seat would give him a wonderful platform to hold the president accountable for his words and deeds.

Ready, aim, fire … at whom in this intraparty war?

I might be the only American today who is unable to understand the political warfare that is taking shape within the Republican Party.

Follow me for a moment.

* Donald John Trump is trying to remake the GOP in his image.

* Former chief White House political strategist, Stephen Bannon, got himself fired by Trump, but Bannon has declared himself to the president’s “wing man” in the fight against the GOP establishment.

* Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell detests Bannon — and Trump. He’s got to smile with the president at his side because he wants to avoid incurring the wrath of a president who’s proven quite adept at bringing it in spades to anyone who crosses him.

* Other Senate Republicans are bailing out on the party, and Congress, because they can’t withstand a primary challenge.

The wild card in all of this appears to be Bannon, a guy I truly detest because of his far-right leanings and his seeming sympathy to white supremacists and those with anti-Semitic views.

What continues to make my head spin is how a guy who once sat at the grownups’ table at National Security Council meetings, then was demoted to the back room and then got himself shoved out the White House door can remain loyal to the guy who booted him out of the office.

But he is. At least he says he is.

I have lamented what I think might be the end of the once-Grand Old Party as we’ve known it. A critic of this blog told me he believes it’s far too premature to sound the GOP’s death knell. Maybe so.

It does cause me some concern that a party that once grappled with Democrats on matters of high principle is being turned into a party filled with know-nothings whose only loyalty is to the Know Nothing in Chief.

I’m going to try to stay focused on this fight as it develops. I also am going to try to make some sense out of what at the moment looks like a mishmash of confusion and chaos.

In the meantime, pray for the country.

Firing Comey a big mistake? Yeah … do ya think?

I didn’t expect to agree with Stephen K. Bannon on anything.

But you know what? The former chief strategist for Donald John Trump Sr. said something on “60 Minutes” that makes me rethink that notion.

He said the president’s decision to fire FBI Director James Comey is the “biggest political mistake in recent political history.”

I believe Bannon is on to something.

Trump canned Comey because of the “Russia thing.” He said initially the Russia probe wasn’t a factor; Vice President Mike Pence said the same thing. Then the president blabbed to NBC News anchor Lester Holt that, yep, Russia was the reason.

Then came Robert Mueller, the former FBI director who was hired by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to become special counsel. Mueller is off and running; he has hired a crack team of legal eagles; the “Russia thing” is getting pretty damn serious.

Mueller is examining whether the Trump presidential campaign colluded with Russian computer hackers who sought to meddle in our electoral process in 2016. He is going full bore, as he should. Had the president not fired Comey, Bannon said, there would be no Mueller, no special counsel, no need for concern among Trumpkins that Mueller has smelled blood in the political water.

Bannon is a tremendously objectionable character. He is back where he came from, as editor in chief of Breitbart News. Bannon had no business in the West Wing. His political experience is just a shade greater than Donald Trump, who had none before he entered the 2016 presidential campaign. Bannon is a right-wing provocateur and political hack who once sat on the “principals committee” of the National Security Council. Then the president wised up and removed him.

However, Bannon is likely quite correct about what Trump may have done to his presidency by kicking Comey out the door and ushering in the Age of Mueller.

And isn’t it fascinating that someone who professes such admiration for Donald Trump might have given the special counsel — Mueller — an even more inviting target by talking about potentially grievous political consequences the president has delivered to himself?

Bannon got the boot, but he’s still around

I am going to admit something that critics of this blog will applaud: I am wrong far more than I am right.

So, when I am right — or when my suspicion turns out to be correct — I feel a need to call attention to it.

Stephen K. Bannon got the boot recently as one of Donald Trump’s key White House advisers. Chief of staff John Kelly showed Bannon the door. My suspicion was that Bannon wouldn’t disappear entirely, that he’d remain a factor in the president’s policymaking.

Dammit anyway! Bannon appears to be hanging around.

Here is what I posted on Aug. 20:

Bannon’s gone, but is he … really?

Bannon returned to his roots, as editor of the far-right-wing publication Breitbart News. He reportedly chats with the president, according to sources in the White House, when John Kelly isn’t around. Think about that for a moment. Does that sound like the action of a junior high schooler who steals a cigarette from Dad when the old man is looking the other way?

The bigger issue, though, is that Bannon’s ultra-right-wing world view — his anti-globalism, uber nationalistic, allegedly racist ideology — will continue to help inform whatever passes for policy from the president.

Bannon is a scary dude. He didn’t belong on the National Security Council. Trump eventually removed him from that post. He didn’t belong anywhere near the Oval Office, but there he was, sitting next to Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law who also has no business being near the center of power.

So he gets shown the door out the back of the West Wing. He now vows to be Trump’s “wing man,” that he’ll work to keep the GOP based fired up and putting pressure on the president to do their bidding.

Bannon is no longer employed by the White House. If only he was actually gone.

Bannon’s gone, but is he … really?

Stephen K. Bannon’s departure from the West Wing of the White House has been hailed as a victory for sanity and reason.

But is he gone? Really gone? Will the alt-right guru disappear into the mist, or into the swamp? Don’t hold your breath, dear reader.

Bannon served as “senior strategist” for Donald Trump. He is an avid “anti-globalist.” He takes pride in steering the president toward his decision to pull out of the Paris Climate Accord and for terminating the Trans Pacific Partnership.

Bannon also has been waging a feud with the reasonable elements of the Trump administration. He and national security adviser H.R. McMaster didn’t get along. It then fell to White House chief of staff John Kelly — like McMaster, a general-grade military man — to engineer Bannon’s departure.

So, he’s no longer checking in at the White House.

Bannon has returned his former post, as editor of Breitbart News, the far-right media organ. You now are allowed to bet the farm that Bannon is going to use his new/old job to undermine McMaster some more, only from outside the White House grounds. Bannon said in an interview after his departure that the presidency for which he fought is now “over,” meaning that in Bannon’s view the president has pivoted toward the “globalist” wing within his inner circle.

Bannon is having none of it, vowing to “fight for” Donald Trump, suggesting he’s going to use Breitbart to push an agenda at odds with the likes of Gens. Kelly and McMaster as well as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary James “Mad Dog” Mattis.

I believe the president needs to keep cleaning house. He needs to show other alt-right devotees — such as speechwriter Stephen Miller and supposed “terrorism expert” Sebastian Gorka — the way out the door.

As for Bannon, suffice to say this guy looks ready to exact some revenge against those who got him tossed.

Do you think this means the end of chaos in the White House? Umm, I’m thinking we’ve got a lot more of it in store.

A glimmer of good news from Trump tirade?

If there was the slightest glimmer of good news from Donald J. Trump’s astonishing rant this afternoon, it involves the possible fate of the president’s senior political strategist.

The president fielded a question at Trump Tower about Stephen K. Bannon and whether he was going to be pushed out of his job. Trump responded that Bannon is a good guy, a “friend of mine.” He said Bannon “is not a racist.”

Then the president said he was uncertain about whether Bannon would stay on.  “We’ll see what happens,” Trump said.

Wait a second! He’s the president of the United States. Of course he knows whether he’s going to keep Bannon. Should he retain this guy? Hell … no!

Bannon is the former Breitbart News honcho who ran an organization with deep sympathies to the “alt-right” movement often associated with white supremacists and assorted other haters.

He now has a seat at the White House policy-setting table. He also is reportedly feuding with chief of staff John Kelly and national security adviser H.R. McMaster.

I want Bannon out of there. Maybe the president will do the right thing — at least on that score. Then again, we still will have Donald Trump as president of the United States.