A defiant Steve Bannon declared the Trump presidency he had campaigned for was over as he vowed to carry on the fight after being ousted as the White House chief strategist.
Within hours of leaving his office, Mr Bannon was back at Breitbart, the right wing website he ran, presiding over the evening news conference.
In interviews he made it clear he was not going quietly as he rounded on those he held responsible for his departure.
“The Trump presidency that we fought for, and won, is over,” he told the Weekly Standard, a right-wing newspaper “We still have a huge movement, and we will make something of this Trump presidency,” he continued.
“But that presidency is over. It’ll be something else. And there’ll be all kinds of fights, and there’ll be good days and bad days, but that presidency is over.”
He added: “I feel jacked up. Now I’ve got my hands back on my weapons,” he added as he vowed “Bannon the barbarian” would crush the opposition.
“There’s no doubt. I built a —–ng machine at Breitbart. And now I’m about to go back, knowing what I know, and we’re about to rev that machine up. And rev it up we will do.”
His loyalty to Donald Trump remained undimmed.
“If there’s any confusion out there, let me clear it up: I’m leaving the White House and going to war for Trump against his opponents — on Capitol Hill, in the media, and in corporate America,” he told Bloomberg.
It seems as if although he has been fired, he’s really not going anywhere. He is still going to try and wreak havoc.
From a perch on the outside, Bannon reasoned, he could launch attacks on GOP leaders, stir up primary challenges, and rile conservative supporters — “going medieval,” he has said — much as Breitbart did against former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor. Bannon can also pressure the White House to allowing a government shutdown if Trump doesn’t get what he wants in a funding bill.
Such a barrage, should it materialize, would further exacerbate tensions that are deeply dividing Republicans during the Trump era.
Conservative writer Lee Stranahan, who formerly worked with Bannon at Breitbart, said Bannon wouldn’t be afraid to pressure Trump, reasoning that he was more concerned about pushing for populist priorities than offending the president.
“It’s all about the agenda, he’s a stalwart on the agenda. He’s never been about just Trump,” Stranahan said.
He’s going to remain a thorn in the GOP’s side. They won’t like that. And he has all of that Mercer money behind him!
Donald Trump gives white supremacists an unequivocal boost
Analysis: Never has president gone so far in defending their actions as during wild shouting-match
US president Donald Trump buoyed the white nationalist movement on Tuesday as no president has done in generations, equating activists protesting racism with the neo-Nazis and white supremacists who rampaged in Charlottesville, Virginia, over the weekend.
Never has he gone as far in defending their actions as he did during a wild, street-corner shouting-match of a news conference in the gilded lobby of Trump Tower, angrily asserting that so-called alt-left activists were just as responsible for the bloody confrontation as marchers brandishing swastikas, Confederate battle flags, anti-Semitic banners and “Trump/Pence” signs.
“Thank you President Trump for your honesty & courage to tell the truth,” David Duke, a former Ku Klux Klan leader, wrote in a Twitter post shortly after Trump spoke.
Richard Spencer, a white nationalist leader who participated in the weekend’s demonstrations and vowed to flood Charlottesville with similar protests in the coming weeks, was equally encouraged. “Trump’s statement was fair and down to earth,” Mr Spencer tweeted.
Governor Terry McAuliffe of Virginia, a Democrat, wasted little time in accusing the president of adding to the divisions that put an unwanted spotlight on the normally peaceful college town. “Neo-Nazis, Klansmen and white supremacists came to Charlottesville heavily armed, spewing hatred and looking for a fight,” Mr McAuliffe said. “One of them murdered a young woman in an act of domestic terrorism, and two of our finest officers were killed in a tragic accident while serving to protect this community. This was not ‘both sides.’”
No word in the Trump lexicon is as tread-worn as “unprecedented.” But members of the president’s staff, stunned and disheartened, said they never expected to hear such a voluble articulation of opinions that the president had long expressed in private.
National Economic Council Chairman Gary Cohn and Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin, who are Jewish, stood by uncomfortably as the president exacerbated a controversy that has once engulfed a White House in disarray.
“I’ve condemned neo-Nazis,” Mr Trump told reporters, who interrupted him repeatedly when he seemed to equate the actions of protesters on each side. He spoke of “very fine people on both sides.” And of the demonstrators who rallied on Friday night, some chanting racist and anti-Semitic slogans, he said, “You had a lot of people in that group that were there to innocently protest and very legally protest.”
Since the 1960s, Republican politicians have made muscular appeals to white voters, especially those in the South, on broad cultural grounds. But as a rule, they have taken a hard line on the party’s racist, nativist and anti-Semitic fringe. Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush roundly condemned white supremacists.
In 1991, the first President Bush took on Mr Duke, who was then seeking the governor’s seat in Louisiana, saying, “When someone has so recently endorsed Nazism, it is inconceivable that someone can reasonably aspire to a leadership role in a free society.”
But Mr Trump, who has repeatedly said he is not prejudiced, has been equivocal in his public or private statements against white nationalists and other racist organizations.
Moderate his message
On Saturday, in his first comments on Charlottesville, Mr Trump blamed the violence on protesters from “many sides.” After a storm of criticism over his remarks, Mr Trump’s aides persuaded him to moderate his message by assigning explicit blame for the violence on far-right agitators, which led to a stronger denunciation of hate groups, emailed to reporters and attributed to an unnamed “spokesperson.”
When that failed to quell the controversy, aides, including Trump’s new chief of staff, John F. Kelly, pressed him to make another public statement. Trump’s daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner urged him to take a more moderate stance, according to two people familiar with the situation. But as with so many other critical moments in Trump’s presidency, the two were on holidays in Vermont.
Grudgingly, Mr Trump agreed. “Racism is evil,” the president said Monday, delivering a statement from the White House that was written with aides during airplane and helicopter flights. “Those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, white supremacists and other hate groups,” he added, in response to bipartisan condemnation of his more equivocal statements during the first 48 hours of the crisis.
But his unifying tone, which his staff characterised as more traditionally presidential, quickly gave way to a more familiar Trump approach. No sooner had he delivered the Monday statement than he began railing privately to his staff about the press. He fumed to aides about how unfairly he was being treated, and expressed sympathy with nonviolent protesters who he said were defending their “heritage,” according to a West Wing official.
He felt he had already given too much ground to his opponents, the official said. Trump prides himself on an unapologetic style he learned from his father Fred Trump, a New York City housing developer, and Roy Cohn, a combative lawyer who served as an aide to Sen. Joseph McCarthy in the 1950s. During the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump attracted a significant following of white supremacists, expressed sympathy with white southerners fighting to preserve monuments for Confederate icons and was slow to distance himself from racists like Duke.
The president’s fury grew on Monday as members of a White House business council began to resign to protest his reaction to Charlottesville. As usual, Trump found his voice by tweeting angrily about the media. By Tuesday afternoon, Trump’s staff sensed the culmination of a familiar cycle: The president was about to revert to his initial, more defiant stance. As Trump approached the microphone in the lobby of Trump Tower on Tuesday, aides winced at the prospect of an unmediated president. With good reason.
“Alt-left” groups were also “very, very violent,” Trump said early in his exchange with reporters. He went on to assign “blame on both sides” , echoing his comments on Saturday, and reigniting a fight that has sunk staff morale after a brief bump in enthusiasm that followed the hiring of General Kelly, who was to impose discipline on a chaotic West Wing.
Eric Cantor, a former Republican congressman from Virginia who was a member of GOP leadership, was horrified by what took place in Charlottesville, and said the president needed to have spoken out earlier. “It really did demand a statement at the very beginning,” said Mr Cantor, who is Jewish. He added that efforts by the president to equate the actions of the counterprotesters, however violent they may have been, with the neo-Nazis and the driver of the car that murdered a protester were “unacceptable.”
There is a risk Trump will exploit overseas conflicts to distract from domestic problems
Over the past week, Mr Trump has indulged in nuclear brinkmanship in North Korea, issued vague threats of military action in Venezuela and flirted with white supremacists at home. NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images
The claim that America is a “threat to world peace” has been a staple of Russian and Iranian propaganda for many years. For believers in the western alliance, it is painful to acknowledge that there is now some truth to this idea. Under Donald Trump, America looks like a dangerous nation.
Over the past week, Mr Trump has indulged in nuclear brinkmanship in North Korea, issued vague threats of military action in Venezuela and flirted with white supremacists at home. He is offering the very opposite of the steady, predictable and calm leadership that American allies seek from Washington.
Mr Trump’s swiftly notorious threats that North Korea risks “fire and fury” from a “locked and loaded” America were particularly irresponsible. Even if the threat is a bluff, it puts American credibility on the line and risks triggering escalation from the Kim Jong Un regime, which is threatening to fire missiles near the US territory of Guam. Even more alarming, the Trump administration is openly flirting with the idea of a pre-emptive strike on North Korea – arguing that a nuclear-armed Mr Kim cannot be deterred. But if America could rely on deterrence to contain the nuclear threat from Stalin’s Russia and Mao’s China – it can certainly do the same with Mr Kim’s North Korea. All previous presidents have rejected the idea of pre-emptive attacks on nuclear-armed states – for obvious reasons.
The international crisis that Mr Trump is stoking is increasingly inseparable from the domestic problems besieging his administration. The investigation by former Federal Bureau of Investigation director Robert Mueller into Russian intervention in the US election is getting ever closer to the president’s inner circle. Congress is deadlocked and the White House is a merry-go-round of sackings and scheming. And now there is political violence on the streets, as white supremacists and neo-Nazis attack, and even kill, protesters in Charlottesville – while the president issues evasive and equivocal statements from a golf course.
The danger is that these multiple crises will merge, tempting an embattled president to try to exploit an international conflict to break out of his domestic difficulties. Just this week, Sebastian Gorka, a controversial White House aide, used the North Korean crisis to pressure Mr Trump’s domestic critics to back down, telling Fox News: “During the Cuba missile crisis we stood behind JFK. This is analogous to the Cuba missile crisis. We need to come together.”
Mr Gorka’s flirtation with the idea that the threat of war could lead Americans to rally around the president should sound alarm bells for anyone with a sense of history. Governments facing a domestic crisis are often more inclined to adventurism abroad. For example, the German government that led Europe into the first world war felt under acute threat from domestic political enemies. But on the day war broke out, an exultant Kaiser told a crowd: “I no longer recognise any parties or affiliations; today we are all German brothers.” Or as Mr Gorka put it last week: “These are the moments when we have to come together as a nation.”
Leaders under severe domestic political pressure are also more likely to behave irrationally. During the Watergate crisis, members of Richard Nixon’s cabinet told the military to double check with them before obeying a presidential order to stage a nuclear strike. Unfortunately, it is not clear that any US official – now or then – has the right to countermand the president if he decides to go nuclear.
Outside observers are left hoping that the “adults” in the Trump administration will somehow manage the president. But, at least in public, the pushback against Mr Trump’s threats of war has been remarkably weak, both in Congress and within the administration.
HR McMaster, the president’s national security adviser, has defended Mr Trump’s warmongering on national television. Meanwhile, General McMaster himself is under attack from the white nationalist wing of the president’s supporters, who blame him for sacking some of their allies on the National Security Council. Last week, as the North Korean crisis built, the hashtag “Sack McMaster” was trending on Twitter, as the nationalists sought to purge their newfound enemy from the White House. This is the very opposite of the atmosphere that should prevail in the White House as a potential nuclear confrontation looms in the Pacific.
Those who are hoping that America’s “Deep State” will contain Mr Trump – or even force his resignation – are probably guilty of wishful thinking. Forcing him from office remains a massively difficult task and risks provoking a further radicalisation both in domestic politics and the conduct of US foreign policy.
A final disturbing thought is that Mr Trump’s emergence increasingly looks like a symptom of a wider crisis in American society, that will not disappear, even when Mr Trump has vacated the Oval Office. Declining living standards for many ordinary Americans and the demographic shifts that threaten the majority status of white Americans helped to create the pool of angry voters that elected Mr Trump. Combine that social and economic backdrop with fears of international decline and a political culture that venerates guns and the military, and you have a formula for a country whose response to international crises may, increasingly, be to “lock and load”.
Every single fecking day, the Irish newspapers have headlines about Trump and his outrageous behaviour. Sometimes there are two articles on the front page. Even if I wanted to curl up into a ball and ignore what was going on, it would be impossible.
The chief executives of Merck, Intel and Under Armour have resigned from a White House advisory panel on manufacturing after President Donald Trump’s initial failure to explicitly condemn a white supremacist rally.
The resignations came as criticism grew over Mr Trump’s slow response to the weekend demonstration.
“America’s leaders must honor (sic) our fundamental values by clearly rejecting expressions of hatred, bigotry and group supremacy, which run counter to the American ideal that all men are created equal,” Frazier wrote on Twitter in announcing his resignation yesterday.
“As CEO of Merck and as a matter of personal conscience, I feel a responsibility to take a stand against intolerance and extremism.”
Mr Trump did not wait long to respond.
“Now that Ken Frazier of Merck Pharma has resigned from President’s Manufacturing Council, he will have more time to LOWER RIPOFF DRUG PRICES!” he wrote.
In a later post, Mr Trump accused Merck of being “a leader in higher & higher drug prices while at the same time taking jobs out of the US Bring jobs back & LOWER PRICES.”
Several hours later, Under Armour founder and chief executive Kevin Plank also announced he would step down from the panel.
“Under Armour engages in innovation and sports, not politics,” he said in a subtly-worded statement
“I love our country and our company and will continue to focus my efforts on inspiring every person that they can do anything through the power of sport, which promotes unity, diversity and inclusion.”
Earlier this year, Mr Plank had publicly expressed support for Mr Trump in comments which sparked a backlash.
Intel chief Brian Krzanich also announced his departure from the panel in a blunt statement which said he wanted to “call attention to the serious harm our divided political climate is causing to critical issues.”
“Politics and political agendas have sidelined the important mission of rebuilding America’s manufacturing base,” he said in a statement which underlined his “abhorrence” over the violence in Charlottesville.
“I resigned because I want to make progress, while many in Washington seem more concerned with attacking anyone who disagrees with them.
“We should honour – not attack – those who have stood up for equality and other cherished American values. I hope this will change, and I remain willing to serve when it does.”
“Racism is evil. And those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans,” he said in nationally televised remarks.
Mr Trump later tweeted that the media were “truly bad people”, as the fallout over his Charlottesville reaction continued.
The Justice Department has begun a civil rights inquiry into the incident, and the driver of the car, a 20-year-old Ohio man who was said to have had a history of neo-Nazi beliefs, has been charged with second-degree murder.
Mr Frazier is a Harvard Law School-trained attorney whose experience includes pro bono work that won the release of a wrongly-convicted death row inmate in Alabama.
He is not the first executive to depart a Trump advisory panel.
After Mr Trump announced he would withdraw the United States from the Paris climate agreement, Disney CEO Bob Iger and Tesla Motors chief Elon Musk both left a White House advisory council, joining former Uber head Travis Kalanick, who stepped down in February following criticism of Trump’s travel ban.
But other executives on the panel appear to be staying put.
“Heartbroken by the violence in #Charlottesville. Hate and intolerance are a betrayal of what we stand for as Americans,” said Pepsi CEO Indra Nooyi in a statement that did not address the Trump panel.
Other executives, including those from General Electric and Dow, planned to stay on Trump panels, US financial news media reported.
I just cut and pasted and it didn’t come out great, but I’m sure you get the picture.
In other news, the sun shone this morning in Dublin and in an effort to wipe that shit stain “trump” from my mind, I grabbed the camera.
I really should have turned the pots the other way, but I forgot and who gives a shit anyway?
Never throw out your old BBQ.
And never throw out your dog.
Oh, and did I mention that I have a new friend, a baby robin. No photos yet…