Has Steve Bannon taken a page from the Mooch's playbook? In a move reminiscent of Anthony Scaramucci's fateful New Yorker interview, the White House strategist opened up to Robert Kuttner at liberal magazine American Prospect in an unsolicited interview. On Charlottesville, Bannon described the far right as a "collection of clowns." "Ethno-nationalism—it's losers. It's a fringe element. I think the media plays it up too much, and we gotta help crush it," he said. He said he wants Democrats to focus on racism because "if the left is focused on race and identity, and we go with economic nationalism, we can crush the Democrats." Bannon "sidestepped" his own links to the far right, Kuttner says.
Sources tell Axios that Bannon was proud of Trump's performance in his heavily criticized Tuesday press conference, seeing it as a "defining moment." Kuttner says Bannon called him mainly to discuss China and North Korea, saying the US needs to be "maniacally focused" on the "economic war with China" and dismissing the chances of war with North Korea. Despite questions about his own future, Bannon claimed his opponents in the State Department, Pentagon, and elsewhere were "wetting themselves." Sources tell the New York Times that Bannon believed the conversation was off the record, though Kuttner says that to his surprise, the "media-savvy" Bannon never raised the question. (Read more Steve Bannon stories.)