Former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon is predicting President Donald Trump will fire Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein “very shortly,” if he refuses to follow the direction of the commander-in chief.
Bannon’s comments are part of an interview he gave to the BBC, and will be televised Wednesday.
Despite Bannon’s comments, Rosenstein may be in a good position right now. He obeyed President Trump’s request to have someone investigate possible spying on the Trump campaign by the FBI and DOJ, which made the President happy.
Bannon, on the other hand, was fired by Trump after criticizing the President in Michael Wolff’s book. At the time, Trump said Bannon had “lost his mind.”
Bannon said that Rosenstein “either … is going to take the direct order of the president of the United States or I think Rosenstein will be fired.”
Bannon also said that the president should give evidence in writing — but not in person — to special counsel Robert Mueller. Bannon praised Mueller as an “honorable guy.”
The comments, which come amid increasing pressure on Rosenstein from Trump and his allies, were made in a wide-ranging interview with the BBC’s “Newsnight,” which was conducted on Tuesday in Prague.
The Hill obtained an audio recording of the unedited interview between Bannon and the BBC’s Emily Maitlis.
The hourlong conversation saw the strategist and former Breitbart executive stepping back into the public spotlight — and stirring controversy again.
Bannon was exiled from Trump’s immediate orbit in January after he was quoted making several incendiary comments in Michael Wolff’s best-selling book “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House.” At the time, Trump said that Bannon had “lost his mind.”
Bannon had departed from the White House before that. He left the administration in August 2017, soon after John Kelly replaced Reince Priebus as chief of staff.
Pushing back on charges of racism leveled against Trump, Bannon insisted that “Martin Luther King would be proud of him — what he’s done for the black and Hispanic community for jobs.”
And Bannon blamed the media for boosting the profile of the kind of white nationalist figures with whom the former strategist has sometimes — wrongly, he insisted — been said to harbor sympathy.
“These guys don’t exist unless you make them a big deal,” Bannon told Maitlis. “First off, they’re all cranks … [Richard] Spencer and [David] Duke — these guys are cranks. The only reason they exist is because MSNBC and BBC is down there with a camera, giving them a platform. If you cut them off, nobody would ever hear from them.”
Bannon’s remarks on Rosenstein and the Mueller probe will be closely parsed because he and other Trump loyalists have been reported, by The Washington Post among others, to be pressing the president to adopt a more aggressive strategy.
One of the most combative defenders of Trump has been his attorney Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor of New York City. But Giuliani has also caused consternation, even among White House staff, with some of his television interviews.
“Rudy’s had some media hits that are better than others, right?” Bannon said in his BBC interview.
But he went on to confirm long-standing rumors that Trump had once been interested in appointing Giuliani to be attorney general.
Bannon told Maitlis that Giuliani had declined the offer because he wanted to be secretary of State.
“Remember, Rudy was the guy that we first went to to be attorney general before [Jeff] Sessions. … And Rudy turned us down,” Bannon said. “He says, ‘Hey it’s too much for me, I don’t want to do it, I would want to be Secretary of State.’”
But, Bannon added, “Rudy is a wartime consigliere and I think he’s exactly what the president needs.”
Bannon was in the Czech capital to engage in a public debate with Lanny Davis, who served as special counsel to President Clinton.
During his BBC interview, he also relitigated some old arguments, in part blaming Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) for the loss of a Republican Senate seat in Alabama last year.
According to Bannon, Kushner and McConnell were among those who “went to Trump and convinced Trump” to back then-Sen. Luther Strange in the GOP primary. Despite Trump’s endorsement, Strange lost the primary to former state Chief Justice Roy Moore.
McConnell, Bannon complained, “would rather see a Democrat in the United States Senate. He would rather have control of his caucus and not have a Roy Moore.”
Moore, backed by Bannon, was dogged by allegations of sexual assault and inappropriate sexual behavior with teenage girls and young women.
Asked by Maitlis if he now accepted he had backed “the wrong horse,” Bannon replied, “Absolutely not.”
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