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Bannon defends his freewheeling interview: It ‘drew fire away from’ Trump and ‘changed the narrative’

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Chief White House Strategist Steve Bannon speaking at the 2017 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland. (Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

Chief White House adviser Steve Bannon on Thursday defended his controversial interview with the American Prospect, praising himself for “[drawing] fire away from” Donald Trump and “[changing] the narrative” around the president equating a white supremacist rally with counter-protestors who stood against racism and bigotry.

Bannon on Wednesday made headlines after he called the American Prospect’s Robert Kuttner to talk about everything from ethno-nationalists to North Korea. In the aftermath of that interview, aides to the chief White House strategist told Axios Bannon—who’s been labeled a “leaker” by several current and former administration officials—thought the call was off the record.

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“This is DEFCON 1-level bad,” one of Bannon’s colleagues told Axios.

Now, Bannon is reportedly thanking himself for that interview, telling the Daily Mail he “drew fire away from POTUS” and “changed the [media] narrative” from nonstop coverage of the president’s Charlottesville response, albeit briefly.

In that interview with the American Prospect, Bannon appeared to undercut the White House position on North Korea, arguing “there’s no military solution” to deal with the rogue nuclear power. He also called ehtno-nationalists “losers,” adding “it’s a fringe element. I think the media plays it up too much, and we gotta help crush it.”

Bannon—who was described as in “high spritis” during the call—further insisted he’s “got” Democrats as long as they talk about what he described as “identity politics.”

“The Democrats, the longer they talk about identity politics, I got ’em,” Bannon told the American Prospect. “I want them to talk about racism every day. If the left is focused on race and identity, and we go with economic nationalism, we can crush the Democrats.”

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Bannon echoed that sentiment in a decidedly on-record interview with the New York Times, inviting the left to “tear down more statues.”

“The race-identity politics of the left wants to say it’s all racist,” Bannon told the Times. “Just give me more. Tear down more statues. Say the revolution is coming. I can’t get enough of it.”

It’s unclear how the American Prospect interview writ large is playing with Trump, but at least one administration praised Bannon for his criticism of Democrats and ethno-nationlists.

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“The president doesn’t like all the Democrats’ focus on racism, and it’s good that Steve mocked it as politically stupid,” an aide told the Daily Mail. “Plus, distance from actual racists is a good thing.”


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2020 Election

‘You’re free to go’: CNN’s Lemon tells Trump after president spends weeks complaining about going to rallies

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President Donald Trump has spent the last several days at rallies complaining about how much he hates being there and how much he hates being president.

CNN's Don Lemon played clips of the rally airing of grievances.

"I probably bottom be standing out here in the freezing rain with you," Trump complained while in Lansing, Michigan. "I would be home in the White House doing whatever the hell I was doing. I wouldn't be out here."

"We win Wisconsin, we win the whole ball game," Trump told a crowd in Janesville, Wisconsin last week. "What the hell do you think I'm doing here on a freezing night with 45-degree wind? What do you think? Do you think I'm doing this for my health? I'm not doing this for my health."

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Trump campaign tells Minnesota police union to get retired cops to be ‘Poll Challengers’

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President Donald Trump's ongoing efforts to suppress voters are taking things to the next level in Minnesota, where his campaign is demanding the police union gather retired cops who will be "poll challengers."

The Star Tribune reported Wednesday that the campaign is looking for about 20-30 former police offivers to work either a four or eight-hour shift in what they call "problem area(s)."

"Poll Challengers do not "stop" people, per se, but act as our eyes and ears in the field and call our hotline to document fraud. We don't necessarily want our Poll Challengers to look intimidating; they cannot carry a weapon in the polls due to state law...we just want people who won't be afraid in rough neighborhoods or intimidating situations," the email says.

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‘I have no fear’: Miles Taylor slams Trump’s ‘intimidation’ after president demanded he be prosecuted

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On CNN Thursday, former Homeland Security staffer Miles Taylor — newly revealed as the author of the anonymous New York Times op-ed describing a "resistance" movement within the Trump administration — responded to the president's new attacks on him.

"The president says you should be prosecuted," said anchor Chris Cuomo. "Did you anticipate this? Are you concerned about this?"

"Chris, I have no fear of that," said Taylor. "But what I'll say that's more alarming is this president has created a culture of intimidation where people that speak out against him, he threatens to use the power of his office to intimidate them. He tweeted out 'treason.' To the president of the United States, criticism of him is treacherous and subversive ... what's worse, when the whistleblower came out against him, the president made comments like, well, you know, back in the day we used to hang people for things like this. It is chilling to me, and one of the reasons I'm speaking out, that we have a commander in chief that silences dissent not just with bullying but with physical threats, with legal threats to abuse his power. We saw it with Governor Whitmer, the president downplaying the threats to her life."

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