Steve Bannon slammed what he called “the Republican establishment,” particularly leading members of former President George W. Bush’s administration, as “idiots” who failed the U.S. when it comes to national security.
“I hold these people in contempt, total and complete contempt,” Bannon told Charlie Rose in an interview airing Sunday on CBS’ “60 Minutes.” “And you know why? They’re idiots, and they’ve gotten us in this situation, and they question a good man like Donald Trump.”
The former chief strategist in Trump’s White House called out prominent Republicans who have critiqued Trump policies by name, including former national security officials James Clapper and Brent Snowcroft, former Secretaries of State Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice, former VP Dick Cheney and Bush himself.
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“By the way, the Obama crowd, almost the same. Clinton crowd, almost the same,” he added. “It’s three administrations.”
Bannon praised Trump for showing restraint in confronting his critics from the Republican establishment who suggested the former real estate mogul would be “irresponsible” on foreign policy and security issues. “In going after the establishment, just like in national security, he’s done it in a prudent method,” he said.
Bannon then disparaged the Bush team’s own record. “The geniuses in the Bush administration that let China in the W.T.O. and genius in the Bush administration told us, ‘Hey, they’re going to be a liberal democracy. They’re going to be free-market capitalism, okay?’ The same geniuses that got us into Iraq, that’s the geniuses of the Bush administration,” he said.
Elsewhere in the interview, Bannon insisted that it was his decision to leave the White House last month, returning to his position overseeing the far-right website Breitbart News nearly one year to the day that he joined Trump’s presidential campaign.
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“I’m not cut out to be a staffer,” he told Rose. “There are certain things you can’t do. I cannot take the fight to who we have to take the fight to when I’m an adviser to the president as a federal government employee. You can’t do it.”
Bannon also defended POTUS’ ongoing use of Twitter. “This is another just standard in judgment that you rain upon him in the effort to destroy Donald Trump,” he said. “He knows he’s speaking directly to the people who put him in office when he uses Twitter. And it sometimes is not in the custom and tradition of what the opposition party deems is appropriate. You’re — you’re absolutely correct, it’s not. And he’s not going to stop.”
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He added that critics hoping that new White House Chief of Staff John Kelly might be able to restrain the president’s use of social media will be disappointed.
“General Kelly I have the most tremendous respect for and has put in very tight processes,” Bannon said. “He’s not going to be able to control it either because it’s Donald Trump. It’s Donald Trump talking directly to the American people.
“You’re going to get some good there. And every now and again you’re going to get some less good, OK?” he noted. “But you’re just going to have to live with it.”
Watch a clip of the “60 Minute” interview below.