Steve Bannon and Reince Priebus want everyone to know everything between them is all good.
US president Donald Trump’s chief strategist and his chief of staff sat down together in a rare joint appearance Thursday at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Maryland, aiming to get that point across in a 25-minute discussion.
Interviewed by the chairman of the American Conservative Union, Matt Schlapp, the two attempted to shut down reports of discord between them while painting the news media, as Bannon repeatedly called it, as “the opposition party.”
The two gave off a friendly vibe onstage, with Priebus even gently touching Bannon’s arm at one point. Priebus said he loves “how many collars he wears,” poking fun at the chief strategist’s sense of style, while Bannon complimented the chief of staff on being a hard worker and later admitted that he himself “runs a little hot” on occasion.
Asked about the biggest misconceptions about the Trump White House, Priebus, touching on reports of tension between the two administration leaders, said “everything” had been misreported.
“I think the biggest misconception is everything that you’re reading,” he told Schlapp.
Bannon doubled down. He said that “if you look at how the opposition party portrayed” Trump during his candidacy, as president-elect, and as president, “it’s all wrong.”
Since Trump’s election, several reports have painted a picture of a split within the White House between staffers loyal to Bannon and others loyal to Priebus.
When Michael Flynn resigned last week as national security adviser following bombshell reports about his communications with Russian officials regarding sanctions, major Trump-backing sites such as Breitbart News and InfoWars said Priebus was the source of leaks coming from the White House. Bannon, who joined Trump’s campaign in August after leading Breitbart’s news operation, criticised Breitbart’s story on the subject.
On Thursday, Bannon said the media was weeping on November 8 when Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton lost to Trump.
“If you think [the media is] going to give you your country back without a fight, you’re sadly mistaken,” he said, adding that the news media is “corporatist,” “globalist,” and opposed to Trump’s “economic nationalist” agenda.
He said the major planks of the Trump agenda include a focus on national security and “sovereignty,” economic nationalism — which includes trade reform — and a deconstruction of “the administrative state.”
“Hold us accountable for delivering what we promised,” Bannon told the crowd.
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