Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon on Monday backed President Donald Trump’s comments criticising NFL players who have protested police brutality and racial injustice by kneeling during the national anthem.
“If people take a knee, and the National Football League players want to take a knee, they should take a knee at night, every night and thank God in heaven Donald J. Trump is president of the United States,” Bannon said in a rare cable television interview with Sean Hannity, seeming to inaccurately link the kneeling demonstration as a protest against the president.
“He has saved this country so much grief, he’s done such a tremendous job with virtually no help,” Bannon added.
Appearing live from Alabama, Bannon spent the majority of his appearance railing against the Republican leadership over their support for Sen. Luther Strange in the Alabama GOP primary runoff with former Alabama supreme court chief justice Roy Moore.
The race has become a heated proxy fight between Republican leaders and some of the biggest supporters of Trump in the right-wing media, including Bannon, Hannity, and others backing Moore, a conservative firebrand famous for trying to keep the state from allowing gay marriage and refusing to remove a Ten Commandments monument from a state judicial building, among other comments.
The newly reinstated head of Breitbart News immediately pivoted from his criticism of protesting players back to criticising Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who some Trump backers have blamed for the stalled Republican agenda in congress.
“I stepped out to make sure that Mitch McConnell and the Republican establishment starts to have a Republican’s back,” Bannon said.
“Because Mitch McConnell wouldn’t be the majority leader if Donald Trump didn’t drag a half a dozen senators across the goal line in November. So it’s time for the Republican establishment to step up and have the back of Donald Trump.”
Though he has expressed doubt about wading into the primary, Trump endorsed Strange, a move that has puzzled many supporters on the right.
In Monday’s interview, Bannon said a “real review has to be done about how President Trump got the wrong information and came down on the wrong side” of the Alabama primary.
Polls show Moore with a significant lead over Strange, who was appointed to fill the Senate seat vacated by Attorney General Jeff Sessions earlier this year.
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