Former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon sat down with 60 Minutes for his first TV interview since leaving the White House, and boy was it eye opening. While discussing a wide range of issues, Bannon offered some interesting insight into both the Trump administration and how he plans to continue fighting for the president now that he's no longer working out of an office in the White House.
60 Minutes' exclusive interview with Bannon had Trump's former chief strategist sparring at times with 60 Minutes reporter Charlie Rose as the two discussed Obamacare, DACA, the Republican Party, the Russia investigation, the Access Hollywood tape, the Trump administration's original sin, and Trump's future on Twitter.
Bannon left his position as Trump's chief strategist in mid-August amid reports he'd been pushed out after becoming increasingly isolated in the White House. That news was quickly followed by reports Bannon was returning to Breitbart, the online far-right news outlet he'd helped start. Shortly after Bannon's departure from the White House was announced, Breitbart's senior-editor-at-large Joel Pollak tweeted simply, "#WAR" in a message that initially sparked some confusion as to who Breitbart, and presumably Bannon, planned to wage war against.
Bannon's 60 Minutes interview, which was taped Wednesday but aired Sunday, sheds some light on the matter while also offering a few intriguing insights on other subjects. Here are 19 quotes from Bannon's 60 Minutes interview:
1. Establishment Republicans Are Trying To Nullify The 2016 Election
"The Republican establishment is trying to nullify the 2016 election," Bannon alleged during his 60 Minutes interview. "That's a brutal fact we have to face." Bannon went on to single out Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, alleging it was "very obvious" that "they do not want Donald Trump's populist, economic nationalist agenda to be implemented."
2. McConnell Tried To Squash Trump's "Drain The Swamp" Talk
In an attempt to illustrate just how establishment Republicans were allegedly working to negate the president Bannon claimed McConnell had, in one of his first meetings with the president, demanded Trump put an end to his "drain the swamp" slogan.
"I think in one of the first meetings in Trump Tower with the president... [McConnell] basically says, 'I don't want to hear any more of this 'drain the swamp' talk' ... Day one [McConnell] did not want to go there."
Bannon alleged McConnell had claimed he "can't hire any smart people" because everyone was already "all over him for reporting requirements and the pay, et cetera, and the scrutiny."
3. The Trump Administration's Embrace Of The GOP Establishment Was The Original Sin
"In the 48 hours after we won [the election], there's a fundamental decision that was made," Bannon told 60 Minutes. "You might call it the original sin of the administration. We embraced the establishment. I mean, we totally embraced the establishment."
Bannon went on to claim the Trump campaign, which he described as "a little bit [like] the island of misfit toys," had ultimately turned toward the GOP establishment after realizing they'd need to put together a government.
4. There's Something Being Worked On Right Now To Fix Obamacare
"I think their choice is going to be you're not going to be able to totally repeal it," Bannon said about Republicans' inability to repeal and replace Obamacare. Bannon also said there was "something that's being worked on right now to fix Obamacare."
5. The Catholic Church Has An Economic Interest In Unlimited Illegal Immigration
"The Catholic Church has been terrible about this," Bannon said, referring to Cardinal Timothy Dolan's support of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
Bannon went on to claim the Catholic Church had "an economic interest in unlimited immigration [and] unlimited illegal immigration." He also claimed the Church needed "illegal aliens to fill the churches."
6. I'm A Street Fighter
"I'm a street fighter. That's what I am," Bannon said when asked about how he wanted to be perceived. Bannon also said he felt his media image was "pretty accurate."
7. I'm Going To Be Trump's Wing Man
While Bannon may have left the White House, he still plans to fight for President Trump. "Donald Trump's a fighter," Bannon said, adding the president was a "great counter puncher."
Bannon went on to say he planned to "protect" Trump and would serve as "his wing man outside" for the entirety of his presidency.
8. Breitbart's Purpose Is To Support Trump
"Our purpose is to support Donald Trump," Bannon told 60 Minutes in what appeared to be a reference to his return to Breitbart News. "To make sure his enemies know that there's no free shot on goal."
9. He Was Proud To Support Trump's Charlottesville Response
Although Bannon said Neo-Nazis, Neo-Confederates, and the Klan were "absolutely awful" and there was "no room" in American society or politics for them, he also argued that "when you side with a man, you side with him," referring to Trump.
Bannon went on to say he was "proud to come out and try to defend President Trump in the media" after his response to a deadly white nationalist rally in Charlottesville came under heavy criticism.
10. I Don't Need To Be Lectured By Limousine Liberals
When asked how he felt about critics' claims he didn't appreciate America's diversity and respect for civil rights, Bannon argued he didn't need to be lectured about diversity or civil rights.
"I was raised in a desegregated neighborhood – the north side of Richmond is predominantly black, okay?" Bannon said. "I went to an integrated school, a Catholic school. I served in the military. I don't need to be lectured by a bunch of limousine liberals from the Upper East Side of New York and from the Hamptons, okay. About any of this. My lived experience is that."
11. The Russia Investigation Is A Waste Of Time
"There's nothing to the Russia investigation. It's a waste of time," Bannon told Rose. "It's a total and complete farce. Russian collusion is a farce," Bannon went on to say.
12. It's Far From Conclusive That Russia Impacted The Election
When asked if intelligence reports he'd claimed to have seen included suggestions that Russia had tried to influence the 2016 election, Bannon appeared dismissive of the idea.
"I would never devolve classified information on this show," he said. "But let me tell you, I think it's far from conclusive that the Russians had any impact on this election."
13. China Is At Economic War With Us
While Bannon wouldn't say whether or not he hoped to see a trade war with China, the former White House chief strategist claimed "elites" in America had gotten the country into "a situation." "We're at not economic war with China, China is at economic war with us," Bannon clarified. He went on to argue that China was "cutting out the beating heart of American innovation" by "appropriating our technology."
14. Reince Priebus Didn't Think Trump Stood A Chance After The Access Hollywood Tape
Bannon claimed Trump held a meeting after the Access Hollywood tape leaked to take stock of his chances of still winning the election. Trump reportedly went around the room and asked each of the people he'd gathered what they thought his percentage of winning was.
"Reince started off and Reince said, 'You have — you have two choices. You either drop out right now, or you lose by the biggest landslide in American political history,'" Bannon said.
15. That Tape Was A Litmus Test & Chris Christie Failed
Bannon said the leaked Access Hollywood Tape, which featured Trump claiming he could grope women with no recourse, was "a litmus test" in his eyes as it showed who really stood with Trump. "Christie, because of [the] Billy Bush weekend, was not looked at for a cabinet position," Bannon went on to say.
16. I Don't Need The Affirmation Of The Mainstream Media
" I don't need the affirmation of the mainstream media," Bannon told Rose. "I don't care what they say. They can call me an anti-Semite. They can call me racist. They call me nativist. You can call me anything you want. Okay? As long as we're driving this agenda for the working men and women of this country, I'm happy."
17. I'm Not Cut Out To Be A Staffer.
Bannon said he'd decided to leave his position at the White House as he felt he was "not cut out to be a staffer" and needed to break the restrictions being a federal government employee placed on him.
"I cannot take the fight to who we have to take the fight to when I'm an advisor to the president as a federal government employee," Bannon said.
18. What Trump Does On Twitter Is Extraordinary
While many have criticized President Trump's penchant for launching personal Twitter attacks and late-night tweet tirades, Bannon appears to have nothing but respect for how the president uses 140 characters. "I think what he does on Twitter is extraordinary," Bannon said. "He disintermediates the media. He goes above their head and talks directly to the American people."
19. Gen. Kelly Won't Be Able To Stop Trump From Tweeting
If you were hoping newly-appointed White House Chief of Staff John Kelly might bring the world a reprieve from Trump's tweets, Bannon has a word of advice: Don't count on it. "By the way, General Kelly I have the most tremendous respect for... [but] he's not going to be able to control [Trump's tweeting] either because it's Donald Trump," Bannon said.
"It's Donald Trump talking directly to the American people. ... You're going to get some good there. And every now and again you're going to get some less good, okay? But you're just going to have to live with it."