- Steve Bannon, President Donald Trump’s former chief strategist, said he understands if the president wants to replace Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
- He told Business Insider that some Republicans have already given Trump “a flashing green” light to do so.
- Trump ramped up his criticism of Sessions last week.
- Sessions offered a rare rebuke to some of Trump’s comments.
Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon told Business Insider in an interview that some key Republicans have given President Donald Trump “a flashing green” light to replace Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
Trump ramped up his criticism of Sessions last week after a pair of bombshell legal developments. Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen made a plea deal with federal prosecutors, and his former campaign manager Paul Manafort was found guilty of a series of crimes.
Sessions, in turn, offered a rare rebuke to the president’s remarks.
In Congress, multiple leading Republicans, such as Sens. Chuck Grassley and Lindsey Graham, signalled that Sessions is likely to be replaced following the midterm elections. Trump has been frustrated by Sessions’ recusal from all matters related to the 2016 campaign.
Bannon, however, told Business Insider that recusal was unavoidable and that anyone as involved in the campaign – such as Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie – would have had to do the same.
But removing Sessions could prove to be a red line for other Republican senators, as the ouster would give the appearance of Trump trying to interfere with special counsel Robert Mueller’s ongoing probe or to influence the Justice Department in other ways.
Saying he has “great deal of respect for Sessions,” a “close friend” he calls “one of the fathers of” the right-wing populist movement, Bannon said it makes sense if Trump wants to get rid of the attorney general.
“I think he’s done an amazing job on immigration and the issues,” Bannon said. “But when a president loses confidence in an attorney general, it is his prerogative to do what he wants. Chuck Grassley and Lindsey Graham are not bomb-throwers. They are about as middle of the road as it gets. They get that after the November election, he’s going to have a choice to make.”
Bannon said he believes ” a number of” Cabinet officials will either depart after the midterms, or Trump will decide he wants someone else in the role.
“And I think you’ve got a flashing green from both Lindsey Graham and Grassley,” he added. “I think the question is who can actually get confirmed. Who’s confirmable that would comport to the president’s agenda. I think both on immigration, on the border, what he’s doing for law and order, Sessions has had an extraordinary run.”
As for who he thinks could possibly replace Sessions, Bannon said his personal favourite would be Solicitor General Noel Francisco.
“I think the solicitor general has done a pretty extraordinary job and is someone who will clearly be in the mix, but that’s for the president to decide,” he said.
Bannon, months after being castigated by Trump following his comments to the author Michael Wolff, recently launched Citizens of the American Republic, a political action group.
Already, Bannon says the group of 25 people includes former Trump campaign officials such as Michael Caputo and will be advising multiple pro-Trump surrogates. Bannon is also soon to release a new film, titled “[email protected]” The film highlights what the president has delivered to his supporters and makes the case that Trump’s presidency is under threat.
That’s the central theme of Bannon’s message as he zeroes in on the midterm elections.
“This is President Trump’s first reelect,” Bannon said. “It isn’t 2020. It’s now.”
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