President Donald Trump and former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon have had a rocky relationship since Bannon was forced out in August of last year. But according to CNN, Bannon is reportedly now back in Trump’s ear, as part of an “informal” group of former administration and campaign officials who are reportedly giving the president advice on how to deal with the Mueller probe that’s contrary to the wishes of administration insiders like chief of staff John Kelly and White House counsel Don McGahn, and it looks like h.
Since Bannon’s ouster, the former Breitbart chairman and the president have frequently found themselves on opposite sides of contentious Republican primaries, especially in last year’s Alabama Senate primary between the Bannon-backed Roy Moore and the Trump-supported Luther Strange. Moore won the primary and Bannon reportedly helped convince Trump to endorse him, but he eventually lost a layup of a special election to Democrat Doug Jones, which badly damaged Bannon’s reputation as a powerful antagonist to the Republican establishment.
Making matters worse for Bannon was the January release of Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury, which quoted Bannon calling Donald Trump Jr. “treasonous” and Ivanka Trump “dumb as a brick.” The next month, Bloomberg reporter Joshua Green said that the day Bannon was canned, he said he was fine with it because he was “tired of being a wet nurse to a 71-year old man.”
Trump, never one to back down from petty ass internet beef, shot back at Bannon. “Steve Bannon has nothing to do with me or my Presidency. When he was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind,” Trump said in a statement responding to Bannon’s comments in Fire and Fury. “Steve had everything to do with the loss of a Senate seat in Alabama held for more than thirty years by Republicans. Steve doesn’t represent my base—he’s only in it for himself.”
Apparently, that’s all water under the bridge now. Jake Tapper wrote on Monday that Trump is getting advice from a “loose and informal group of Trump advisors outside the White House” who are reportedly telling him that deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein is part of the deep state. According to supposed members of that group, it reportedly includes Bannon, as well as former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, Citizens United president and former Trump deputy campaign manager David Bossie, CNN commentator and Trump Hispanic Advisory Council chairman Steve Cortes, and “many others.” (Tapper said none of the four agreed to talk on the record.)
Apparently, what they’re saying to him is working. Per CNN:
A member of the group described their efforts as “a concerted effort on the part of outside Trump supporters to put pressure on Rosenstein to comply with (House Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Devin) Nunes’ information request. Outside supporters don’t believe Kelly or McGahn are being aggressive enough in defending the President. We’re trying to reinforce that this material must be turned over to Nunes as head of the committee.”
The group over the weekend seemed to win a battle with White House insiders and succeeded in convincing the President to formally side with Nunes over his own Justice Department.
According to Tapper, the group also seemingly played a hand in Trump’s tweet yesterday ordering the DOJ to investigate whether or not the FBI had an informant (who has been alleged to be former foreign policy advisor Stefan Halper) on his campaign:
Sunday morning, the group was trying to convince Trump to write a letter demanding that Rosenstein turn over material about the confidential source to Nunes. By Sunday afternoon, the President had tweeted what seemed to members of this outside group to be such an order.
“I hereby demand, and will do so officially tomorrow, that the Department of Justice look into whether or not the FBI/DOJ infiltrated or surveilled the Trump Campaign for Political Purposes - and if any such demands or requests were made by people within the Obama Administration!” the President wrote.
The DOJ acquiesced to Trump’s demand on Monday, after he met with Rosenstein, FBI director Christopher Wray, and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats at the White House.
It’s worth taking all of the things that the grifters and hangers-on in Trump’s orbit say with a grain of salt, especially when they’re gloating anonymously about all of the weight they can throw around with a president who only knows as much as what he heard from the last person he talked to. But if this report is accurate, Bannon is in Trump’s good graces again, and that isn’t good news for anyone.