Steve Bannon, Donald Trump's erstwhile adviser, may be out of the White House, but he's made it increasingly clear that his exit from the president's inner circle certainly doesn't coincide with an exit from politics. In a
stunning profile by made it very clear that he feels stronger than ever — and he had no qualms about spilling the dirt about numerous former colleagues of his. Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump, Jeff Sessions, and even the president himself — no one, it seems, is exempt from Bannon's oral barbs. Vanity Fair, Steve Bannon
Some of what comes out of this profile by journalist Gabriel Sherman, which was built up over months and a series of interviews with the executive chairman of Breitbart News, isn't particularly new. You've probably already heard that
Bannon reportedly doesn't believe that Trump will last for a full term, or that Bannon and Kushner had an ongoing feud for influence while they were both working in the White House. However, there are also new revelations, like about Bannon's specific feelings about Kushner and his actions, and about the possibility of Bannon himself mounting a campaign for president in 2020.
In some ways, Bannon has morphed into a sort of mythical figure —
the Grim Reaper in , the mastermind behind Trump's presidency, the source of Trump's cobbled-together ideology. No matter how much you've read about him already, this profile still has something new to offer. SNL's sketches 1 Bannon Imagines America At Its Lowest Point Joe Raedle/Getty Images News/Getty Images Trump's inaugural speech painted a dark picture of America, and that's exactly the way Bannon sees it as well — except Bannon's dark vision doesn't only apply to the U.S. “The world is on a knife’s edge. We have what I call a long, dark valley ahead of us, like the 1930s,” Bannon reportedly said at a rally-like speech in Tokyo. 2 Trump's Relationship With Bannon Is More Fraught Than We Thought Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images News/Getty Images Trump never liked Bannon upstaging him, which was reported on before Bannon even left the White House. But the depths of their seeming distaste for (and reliance on) each other have now moved into sharper focus after this profile. While Bannon helped craft Trump's policies, he doesn't appear to have much respect for the man himself. “He’s like an 11-year-old child,” he reportedly told friend in November, claiming that the president had "lost a step." According to one prominent Republican who didn't want to be named in the article, Bannon thinks Trump is "dumb and crazy." 3 Moore's Loss Was A Huge Defeat For Bannon Joe Raedle/Getty Images News/Getty Images
Bannon poured a huge amount of effort into
Roy Moore's Senate campaign in Alabama — and it was a major defeat for him in the eyes of conservatives, including Republican leaders right-leaning outlets like the Wall Street Journal. Bannon, however, sees that Trump continues to gravitate to his far-right side of things, and even Moore's loss hasn't made a visible dent in his optimism. 4 Bannon Calls Trump Supporters "Hobbits"
In case you didn't notice it in the
from early November, the former White House chief strategist refers to Trump supporters as "hobbits." New York Times interview with Bannon
This analogy makes sense if you consider Bannon's worldview: The world is on the precipice of something terrible, and the ones who are going to save it are, according to Bannon's ethno-populist ideology, the little people. That makes every Trump voter a potential Frodo, out to be that small, overlooked character who will end up carrying out a great victory.
5 Bannon 2020 Isn't Out Of The Question Joe Raedle/Getty Images News/Getty Images Bannon apparently began musing about a presidential run in 2020 as early as October — although CNN reports that a Bannon spokesperson denied that report. According to Vanity Fair, however, Bannon has even begun crafting an electoral strategy. The people he'll target for his Obama-style coalition cut through a broad swath of the country: Evangelicals, libertarians, pro-gun activists, and union members. 6 Bannon Believes He Has "Power" Drew Angerer/Getty Images News/Getty Images
Leaving the White House didn't amount to a step into the shadows, Bannon believes. “It was always a job. I realize in hindsight I was just a staffer, and I’m not a good staffer. I had influence, I had a lot of influence, but just influence," he told
Now that he's out of the White House, he believes that things have changed. “I have power. I can actually drive things in a certain direction.” And with the huge platform that Breitbart gives him, this actually does make some sense.
7 The Honey Badger Is Bannon's Inspiration
viral video about the honey badger from about six years ago? Bannon does too, and apparently he's turned the honey badger's motto — "Honey badger don’t give a sh*t" — into a slogan for himself. "“I don’t give a f*ck,” he told Vanity Fair. “You can call me anything you want. Do you think I give a sh*t? I literally don’t care.” 8 Bannon Thinks George H.W. Bush Is A "Pervert" Pool/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images
Bannon has an extremely low opinion of the Bush family, even going so far as to call the second Bush presidency "the most destructive presidency in history."
He also spoke about the
allegations that George H.W. Bush had a habit of grabbing women's rears when they were standing next to him to take a picture (Bush Sr. has apologized for some of the accusations and claimed they were an attempt at humor). Bannon said about Bush Sr.: "The old man is a pervert. He’s a pervert. Grabbing these girls and grabbing their asses?” 9 Bannon Has No Respect For Javanka Mario Tama/Getty Images News/Getty Images
It quickly became clear that the Bannon camp and the Javanka camp represented the
dueling axes of Trump's presidency, but the depths of Bannon's reported disdain and lack of respect for the couple truly come out in this profile. Ivanka, Bannon claims, was "a fount of bad advice during the campaign.” Jared, despite his involvement in the campaign, "doesn’t know anything about the hobbits or the deplorables,” according to Bannon.
Bannon reportedly called them as "the Democrats" and viewed the two of them together as "the railhead of all bad decisions."
10 The Russia Investigation Is Essentially Jared's Fault, According To Bannon Pool/Getty Images News/Getty Images
Bannon doesn't believe that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia — and he believes that the case against them stems from another one of Jared's bad decisions. In Bannon's eyes, the entire issue comes from the bad optics of Kushner meeting with various Russian officials.
“He’s taking meetings with Russians to get additional stuff. This tells you everything about Jared,” Bannon told
Vanity Fair. “They were looking for the picture of Hillary Clinton taking the bag of cash from Putin. That’s his maturity level.”
This admission, though, doesn't exactly jive with Bannon's belief that the Trump-Russia inquiry is without merit; if attempting to "get additional stuff" from a hostile foreign power does not fall under the umbrella of collusion, then it's unclear what does.
11 Ivanka Called Bannon A "F*cking Liar" Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images News/Getty Images
Bannon's relationship was Ivanka was no better than his relationship with her husband.
Vanity Fair reported that the two got into a heated argument in the Oval Office, where Ivanka claimed that Bannon was the one behind all of the White House leaks. Bannon then called the first daughter "the queen of leaks," and according to him, she responded: “You’re a f*cking liar!” 12 Jeff Sessions Believes The Election Victory Was "Divine Providence" Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images News/Getty Images
Bannon was also evidently part of the reason why
Attorney General Jeff Sessions didn't resign, even as Trump began lobbing insults his way in July. Bannon told Vanity Fair that he saw Trump blaming Sessions for various mistakes, while he believed that Jared was actually the one who deserved the blame. He then reportedly called Sessions into his office and effectively gave him a pep talk.
“Look, I have a question for you. Is there any doubt in your mind that it was Divine Providence, the Hand of God that got us this victory?” Bannon reportedly asked Sessions. The Attorney General responded that he had “no doubt," and repeated the sentiment again when Bannon pressed him.
“Then where’s your commitment here?” Bannon asked Sessions.
“I will never leave. I may get fired, but I’ll never leave," Sessions responded, according to
Vanity Fair. 13 Bannon Recognizes The Democrats' Rising Strength Mark Wallheiser/Getty Images News/Getty Images
Through all of his optimism towards his own position and the direction that his brand of ethno-populism is going, Bannon said that he sees the Democrats' position as a strong one. “The reason the Democrats did so well in Virginia is because they’re angry. Anger gets people to do things. I admire that,” Bannon told
Whether or not you trust Bannon's opinion on this or any other matter, it's a convincing claim given the
Democrats' current upward swing in elections across the country this year. It seems unlikely, however, that Bannon would fail to take this into account as he continues to bury himself deeper into the world of politics.
And really, that's the major take away from this entire piece. Some of his colleagues in the White House — and perhaps even the president — reportedly viewed Bannon as a self-serving publicist, and Bannon himself certainly seems to be of the opinion that any publicity is good publicity. Where exactly he'll go from that is still in question — but it seems clear that whatever he does, he's going to try to influence the country as much as he possibly can.