Steve Bannon is a 'coward' who only cares about being at 'the center of the show': Michael Wolff
Steve Bannon (Screengrab / 60 minutes)

Former president Donald Trump and adviser Steve Bannon certainly inspired the insurrectionists who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6 — but they were likely "dumbfounded" by what ultimately took place, according to author Michael Wolff.

Wolff, who has authored three books about the inner workings of the Trump White House — and has reportedly spent hundreds of hours in conversation with Bannon — appeared on MSNBC on Tuesday night to discuss his latest offering, "Too Famous."

Host Brian Williams introduced Wolff by reading a passage from the book about Bannon.

"Bannon understood that Trump was crazy but a major audience draw, and the far-right wing was nutty but delivered a significantly higher than average response rate," Wolff wrote in the passage. "And, too, that the working man in America had gotten a bum deal and maybe Bannon could strike a positive blow (whatever that may be) on the workingman's behalf from a luxury hotel suite."

Earlier Tuesday, the House select committee investigating the insurrection unanimously approved a referral of criminal charges against Bannon for defying the panel's subpoenas. Williams asked Wolff whether Bannon was "the architect, the designer, the builder, or just the cheerleader" of the Capitol insurrection.

"Or none of the above," Wolff responded. "Steve Bannon is a man who does everything for an effect, and the effect is not necessarily connected to the reality. So for Steve to get up a head of steam, and start to announce there's going to be a revolution in the streets, the world is going to change, is actually Steve's conversation in almost every moment."

"So making the cause and effect line — and this is what's going to be hard for the Democrats in this — is never so clear," Wolff said. "It's going to be the same with Donald Trump. All of these people are actors. Their game is theater. Their game is not action. Nevertheless, without question, it is their rhetoric — and it is incredible rhetoric, Bannon is a genius in the rhetoric department. So all of the people who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6 certainly took inspiration from Bannon as well as from the president, but were Steve and the president shocked by what ultimately happened? I can't say for sure, but I know them both very well, and I would say that they were pretty dumbfounded."

Williams then asked whether Bannon is a "coward at heart' or if any part of him would want to testify before the committee and "try to give as good as he gets."

"I would say he's a coward," Wolff responded, adding that Bannon is also "a showman."

"And all that matters to him is the show, is him at the center of that show," he said.

Watch below.

Michael Wollf on MSNBC