President Donald Trump quietly added his White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon as a top official of the National Security Council over the weekend, prompting a closer look at his anti-Muslim extremism.
Bannon, who used to head the alt-right outlet Breitbart News, spoke at a 2014 conference at the Vatican in which he called for a Christian holy war. "We’re at the very beginning stages of a very brutal and bloody conflict,” he said, referring to Islam as a "new barbarity that’s starting, that will completely eradicate everything that we’ve been bequeathed over the last 2,000, 2,500 years."
ABC World News Tonight also looked into Bannon's anti-Muslim rhetoric, pulling statements he has made over the last several years. Host David Muir started the segment by commenting on the "controversy over Bannon's own words."
In a 2015 comment on the radio, unearthed by USA Today, Bannon said, "To be brutally frank, I mean Christianity is dying in Europe, and Islam is on the rise. Let's talk about that." He similarly suggested in 2016, "It's pretty dark here in Europe right now, but there's something actually much darker. And that is Islam."
During a White House press briefing on Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017, ABC News anchor Cecilia Vega asked White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer if the president shared Bannon's views on Islam.
"No, I think the president has been very clear that his number one goal is not to target any one religion, but places, and areas where we believe that there is an issue. There is a big difference between Islam the religion and radical Islamic terrorists, that come here to do us harm," he replied. Vega then asked, "But nothing about this comment that the president wants to distance himself from, or even elaborate on? I mean, these are being seen as very controversial --"
"I just think that I made it clear that there's a difference between the president's view," he replied.
Watch the clip in full from Media Matters below.