- Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon was “thrilled” with President Donald Trump’s controversial reaction to violence at a far-right march in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August 2017, according to a new book from an ex-Trump White House aide.
- Former Trump aide Cliff Sims wrote that while Bannon celebrated how Trump reacted, young White House staffers discussed exit strategies.
- The Charlottesville fallout caused “deep anxiety among Trump’s staff,” Sims wrote.
Steve Bannon was just about the only person in the White House who was happy about President Donald Trump’s controversial response to neo-Nazi violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August 2017, according to former Trump aide Cliff Sims.
In a new tell-all book released Tuesday, “Team of Vipers: My 500 Extraordinary Days in the White House,” Sims describes a White House that was in utter disarray in the wake of Trump’s comments. The president at the time sparked outrage after he blamed “many sides” for the violence.
The Charlottesville fallout caused “deep anxiety among Trump’s staff,” Sims wrote. In the midst of the backlash he overheard some young staffers “discussing whether they should take this ‘off-ramp’ to protect themselves from damaging their future careers.”
The staffers discussed going to other agencies, Sims said, and then attempting to disappear into the private sector. As they discussed their exit strategies, one staffer reportedly laughed and said, “Sounds good, but you’re forgetting that everyone thinks we’re racists.”
Meanwhile, Sims said Bannon was “the only person who seemed entirely comfortable – thrilled, really – with the Charlottesville debacle.”
Bannon reportedly referred to the infamous press conference in which Trump made the incendiary comments about the events in Charlottesville as a “defining moment.”
“Our guy refused to back down to the mob. The opposition party (the media) doesn’t know what to do with themselves. A total win for the good guys,” Bannon said, according to Sims.
Bannon, who previously ran Breitbart News and was instrumental in Trump’s election victory in 2016, apparently felt the events in Charlottesville gave Trump a huge opportunity to build political support.
A native of southern Virginia, Sims said that when he asked Bannon about Charlottesville, he said, “Our heritage, our statues – I told the President to stand up for who we are. They want to take it all away. That’s what this is about. The freaks running around with torches are a sideshow, they’re irrelevant, they’re losers. We can own the real issue. We’ve got to take control of the narrative. This is a winner.”
Bannon served as White House chief strategist from January 2017 to August 2017, departing the Trump administration at the height of the chaos surrounding the president’s response to Charlottesville.
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