Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, during his brief tenure in the West Wing and his few months as CEO of President Trump's campaign, earned many nicknames among his admirers and his ever-expanding list of enemies. He was the "great manipulator," "Trump's Svengali," "the Grim Reaper," "Propagandist-in-chief."
He describes himself as a "streetfighter." And he proved it in this, his first-ever television interview. Bannon is back running Breitbart News -- the website where the alt-right and conspiracy theories meet conventional conservatives. The streetfighter, shiv-in-hand came ready to brawl, and not with liberals or Democrats.
"The Republican establishment is trying to nullify the 2016 election. That's a brutal fact we have to face."
STEVE BANNON: The Republican establishment is trying to nullify the 2016 election. That's a brutal fact we have to face.
CHARLIE ROSE: The Republican establishment?
STEVE BANNON: The Republican establishment is trying--
CHARLIE ROSE: Wants to nullify the 2016 election?
STEVE BANNON: Trying to nullify the 2016 election. Absolutely.
CHARLIE ROSE: Who?
STEVE BANNON: I think Mitch McConnell, and to a degree, Paul Ryan. They do not want Donald Trump's populist, economic nationalist agenda to be implemented. It's very obvious. It's obvious as-- it's obvious as the-- it's obvious as night follows day is what they're trying to do--
CHARLIE ROSE: Give me a story that illustrates that.
"In the 48 hours after we won, there's a fundamental decision that was made. You might call it the original sin of the administration. We embraced the establishment."
STEVE BANNON: Oh, Mitch McConnell when we first met him, I mean, he was-- he was-- he-- he said, I think in one of the first meetings-- in Trump Tower with the president-- as we're wrapping up, he basically says, "I don't wanna hear any more of this 'Drain the Swamp' talk." He says, "I can't-- I can't hire any smart people," because everybody's all over him for reporting requirements and-- and the pay, et cetera, and the scrutiny. You know, "You gotta back off that." The "Drain the Swamp" thing was-- is Mitch McConnell was Day One did not wanna-- did not wanna go there. Wanted us to back off.
CHARLIE ROSE: You are attacking on many fronts people who you need to help you to get things done.
STEVE BANNON: They're not gonna help you unless they're put on notice. They're gonna be held accountable if they do not support the president of the United States. Right now there's no accountability. They have totally-- they do not support the president's program. It's an open secret on Capitol Hill. Everybody in this city knows it.
"Let's talk about the swamp. The swamp is a business model. It's a successful business model."
CHARLIE ROSE: And so therefore, now that you're out of the White House, you're going to war with them?
STEVE BANNON: Absolutely.
CHARLIE ROSE: Have you cleaned the swamp?
STEVE BANNON: Well, first off-- OK, the swamp is 50 years in the making. Let's talk about the swamp. The swamp is a business model. It's a successful business model. It's a donor-consultant K Street lobbyist-politician-- seven of the nine biggest ca-- most-- wealthiest counties in America ring Washington, D.C.
CHARLIE ROSE: What are you talking about when you talk about the swamp. You're talking about the lobbyists and the people--
STEVE BANNON: The permanent political class, as represented by both parties. You're not gonna-- you're not gonna drain that in eight months. You're not gonna drain it in two terms. This is gonna take 10, 15, 20 years of relentlessly going after it.
CHARLIE ROSE: So you win the election. You go through a transition. Lot of people thought might join the cabinet didn't: Rudy, Newt, Christie.
STEVE BANNON: In the 48 hours after we won, there's a fundamental decision that was made. You might call it the original sin of the administration. We embraced the establishment. I mean, we totally embraced the establishment. I think in President Trump's mind, or President-elect Trump's mind, in Jared's mind, in the family's mind, I actually agreed with the decision. 'Cause ya had to staff a government. And to be brutally frank. You know, the campaign look, I'd never been on a campaign in my entire life, right? You know, I'm a former investment banker who's a media guy, running a little website. We were-- our whole campaign was a little bit the island of misfit toys. So he looks around and I'm wearing my combat jacket, I haven't shaved, I got, you know, my hair's down to here, and he says he's thinking. "Hey, I've gotta put together a government. I've gotta really staff up something. I need to embrace the establishment."
CHARLIE ROSE: I need to govern.
STEVE BANNON: I need to govern.
CHARLIE ROSE: Let's go down the list of what things that Donald Trump wanted. He wanted to do away with Obamacare. Repeal and replace. It didn't happen.
STEVE BANNON: The very first meetings we had with the Republican establishment, here was the plan that was laid out. The plan was to do Obamacare because, remember, Paul Ryan and these guys come in and said, "We've done this for seven years. We've voted on this 50 times. We understand this issue better than anybody. We know how to repeal and we know how to replace, and this is ours. That's what we're gonna start with Day One, and we will have something on your desk by Easter. By the Easter break, we'll do repeal and replace. Come back from Easter, and all the way up to the August break, taxes. Come back from the summer break, on Labor Day, and we drive home to the end of the year on infrastructure. We accomplish all three big legislative goals in the first year." They would take--
"Economic nationalism is what this country was built on. The American system. Right? We go back to that. We look after our own."
CHARLIE ROSE: This is what the leadership in the House and Senate told you?
STEVE BANNON: And we agreed to. That was the deal.
CHARLIE ROSE: So you're now blaming them for all of this?
STEVE BANNON: I'm not blaming this-- I'm not blaming them for all this. What I'm-- what I'm saying is that, when left to even repeal it in June in the Senate, they put it up for a vote, they only had 41 votes. There is wide discrepancy in the Republican Party, as we know today, now that we're in it. But I will tell you, leadership didn't know it at the time. They didn't know it till the very end. And let me tell ya about Obamacare. There is something that's being worked on right now to fix Obamacare. And that came up--
CHARLIE ROSE: To fix Obamacare?
STEVE BANNON: It does totally re--
CHARLIE ROSE: To fix Obamacare?
STEVE BANNON: --it does not-- hang on. It does not--
CHARLIE ROSE: Well, hang on--
STEVE BANNON: --actually, it does not totally repeal Obamacare--
CHARLIE ROSE: Have we come to that, where the choice is simply to fix Obamacare?
STEVE BANNON: I think their choice is gonna be you're not gonna be able to totally repeal it.
CHARLIE ROSE: And you accept no responsibility for the failures of this administration?
STEVE BANNON: When you say failures, it's eight months in, gimme a failure. Obama didn't have Obamacare for the first 18 months. You're holding him to an unfair standard.
We interviewed Steve Bannon Wednesday at his home in Washington, which doubles as the headquarters of Breitbart News. The interview was a day after the Trump administration announced it would end DACA, the program that provides legal protections for undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children. President Trump gave Congress six months to sort it out, but Bannon believes the program should be abolished.
STEVE BANNON: I'm worried about losing the House now because of this-- of-- because of DACA. And my fear is that with this six months down range, if we have another huge-- if this goes all the way down to its logical conclusion, in February and March it will be a civil war inside the Republican party that will be every bit as vitriolic as 2013. And to me, doing that in the springboard of primary season for 2018 is extremely unwise.
CHARLIE ROSE: President made the wrong decision?
STEVE BANNON: I think that the--
CHARLIE ROSE: The president made the wrong decision?
STEVE BANNON: --I-- I think--
CHARLIE ROSE: You wanted him to--
STEVE BANNON: I think--
CHARLIE ROSE: --go full bore.
STEVE BANNON: I think what we have to do is focus on the American citizens. I think we have to focus on American citizens--
CHARLIE ROSE: So what would you do to people who came here--
STEVE BANNON: I think that--
CHARLIE ROSE: --as children--
STEVE BANNON: --you saw the memo--
CHARLIE ROSE: It-- it--
STEVE BANNON: --you saw the memo.
CHARLIE ROSE: But just tell me what you would do, that's all I'm asking--
STEVE BANNON: I think-- I think as--
CHARLIE ROSE: What--
STEVE BANNON: --with the work permits-- as the work permits run out they self deport.
CHARLIE ROSE: They self deport?
STEVE BANNON: Yes. I am absolutely--
CHARLIE ROSE: But that-- the--
STEVE BANNON: I'm--
CHARLIE ROSE: --that's being deported.
STEVE BANNON: there's no path to citizenship, no path to a green card and no amnesty. Amnesty is non-negotiable.
CHARLIE ROSE: America was, in the eyes of so many people, and it's what people respect America for, it is people have been able to come here, find a place, contribute to the economy. That's what immigration has been in America. And you seem to want to turn it around and stop it.
STEVE BANNON: You couldn't be more dead wrong. America was built on her citizens.
CHARLIE ROSE: We're all immigrants.
STEVE BANNON: America was built on her--
CHARLIE ROSE: Except the Native Americans--
STEVE BANNON: --don't-- don't g-- don't-- don't--
CHARLIE ROSE: --who were here.
STEVE BANNON: --don't-- don't give me-- this is the thing of the leftists. Charlie, that's beneath you. America's built on our sys-- on our citizens. Look at the 19th century. What built America's called the American system, from Hamilton to Polk to Henry Clay to Lincoln to the Roosevelts. A system of protection of our manufacturing, financial system that lends to manufacturers, OK, and the control of our borders. Economic nationalism is what this country was built on. The American system. Right? We go back to that. We look after our own. We look after our citizen, we look after our manufacturing base, and guess what? This country's gonna be greater, more united, more powerful than it's ever been. And it's not-- this is not astrophysics. OK? And by the way, that's every nationality, every race, every religion, every sexual preference. As long as you're a citizen of our country. As long as you're an American citizen, you're part of this populist, economic nationalist movement.
CHARLIE ROSE: Can I remind you, a good Catholic, that. Cardinal Dolan.
STEVE BANNON: The Catholic Church has been terrible about this.
CHARLIE ROSE: OK.
STEVE BANNON: The bishops have been terrible about this. By the way, you know why? You know why? Because unable to really to come to grips with the problems in the church, they need illegal aliens, they need illegal aliens to fill the churches. It's obvious on the face of it. That's what-- the entire Catholic Bishops condemning. They have-- they have an economic interest. They have an economic interest in unlimited immigration, unlimited illegal immigration. And as much as--
CHARLIE ROSE: Boy, that's a tough thing to say about your church.
STEVE BANNON: As much as I respect Cardinal Dolan and the bishops on doctrine, this is not doctrine. This is not doctrine at all. I totally respect the pope and I totally respect the Catholic bishops and cardinals on doctrine. This is not about doctrine. This is about the sovereignty of a nation. And in that regard, they're just another guy with an opinion.
CHARLIE ROSE: So how do you want to be perceived, you today? Because you have a media image.
STEVE BANNON: The media image I think is pretty accurate. I'm a street fighter. That's what I am.
CHARLIE ROSE: You're more than that.
STEVE BANNON: Nah, I think I'm a street fighter. And by the way, I think that's why Donald Trump and I get along so well. Donald Trump's a fighter. Great counter puncher. Great counter puncher. He's a fighter. I'm going to be his wingman outside for the entire time, to protect--
CHARLIE ROSE: You will not be attacking Donald Trump?
STEVE BANNON: No, our purpose is to support Donald Trump. By the way--
CHARLIE ROSE: And destroy his enemies?
STEVE BANNON: To make sure his enemies know that there's no free shot on goal. By the way, after the Charlottesville situation, that's what I told General Kelly, I was the only guy that came out and tried to defend him. I was the only guy that said, "He's talking about something, taking it up to a higher level." Where does it all go? Where does this end? Does it end in taking down the Washington Monument? Does it end in taking down--
CHARLIE ROSE: I tell you where many people suggest it should have gone, it should have gone in terms of denouncing specifically from the very beginning Neo-Nazis and white supremacists and people of that political view. And it should have gone there because those were people that Americans in World War II went to fight against and should have instantly denounced them. And you didn't at first instinct. In fact, you seemed to be doubling down in terms of a moral equivalency.
STEVE BANNON: What he was trying to say is that people that support the monument staying there peacefully and people that oppose that, that's the normal course of First Amendment. When he's talking about the Neo-Nazis and Neo-Confederates and the Klan, who, by the way, are absolutely awful-- there's no room in American politics for that. There's no room in American society for that. My problem-- my problem, and I told General Kelly this, when you side with a man, you side with him. I was proud to come out and try to defend President Trump in the media that day.
CHARLIE ROSE: And no exceptions in terms of siding with someone?
STEVE BANNON: You can tell him, "Hey, maybe you can do it a better way." But if you're gonna break, then resign. If you're going to break with him, resign. The stuff that was leaked out that week by certain members of the White House I thought was unacceptable. If you find it unacceptable, you should resign.
CHARLIE ROSE: So who are you talking about?
STEVE BANNON: I'm talking about obviously, about Gary Cohn and some other people. That if you don't like what he's doing and you don't agree with it, you have an obligation to resign.
CHARLIE ROSE: Gary Cohn should have resigned?
STEVE BANNON: Absolutely.
CHARLIE ROSE: Were you upset about it?
STEVE BANNON: I was of the opinion that you should condemn both the racist and the Neo-Nazis because they're getting a free ride on--
CHARLIE ROSE: You said to me--
STEVE BANNON: Hang on, they're getting off a free ride off Donald Trump. They're getting a free ride. Because it's a small group, it's a vicious group. They add no value. And all they do is show up in the-- and the mainstream media and the left-wing media makes them up as some huge part of Donald Trump's coalition.
CHARLIE ROSE: David Duke--
STEVE BANNON: David Duke shows up for every media opportunity because you guys put the cameras--
CHARLIE ROSE: But you did say-- no-- no, well, but-- the media does not make David Duke say what he says. They applauded what the president did. That's what David Duke did.
STEVE BANNON: David Duke-- the president has condemned David Duke and what David Duke stands for.
CHARLIE ROSE: Everybody listening to you talks about one of the great issues in American life today, which is the plight of the middle class. But they also believe that there is on your part and the president's part not enough appreciation for some of the values also that made America great. And you don't appreciate that. You don't appreciate the diversity, you don't appreciate the respect for civil rights...
STEVE BANNON: I was raised in a desegregated neighborhood. It-- it-- the north side of Richmond is predominantly black, OK? I went to-- I went to an integrated school, a Catholic school. I served in the military. I don't need to be-- I don't need to be lectured by a bunch of-- by a bunch of limousine liberals, OK, from the Upper East Side of New York and from the Hamptons, OK, about any of this. My lived experience is that.
New York's Cardinal Timothy Dolan, citing both Hebrew scripture and the New Testament, called Steve Bannon's criticism of the church's support for immigrants "preposterous," and "so ridiculous that it doesn't merit a comment." Questions about Russian interference in the presidential election -- and why Steve Bannon calls prominent members of the Bush administration "idiots," when we come back.
Steve Bannon's strategy, during his time as CEO of the Trump campaign helped turn conventional politics on its head. But before the administration even began, President Trump's upset victory faced investigations into whether it was won under a shadow of Russian interference in the 2016 election.
STEVE BANNON: There's nothing to the Russia investigation. It's a waste of time.
CHARLIE ROSE: What do you believe? You know what the National Security-- Institution believes. What do you believe--
STEVE BANNON: What do you mean, what they believe? We don't really. I mean, that there may have been-- I-- I think-- look, I was there--
CHARLIE ROSE: No, no, no, you were-- you--
STEVE BANNON: --it's a total and complete farce. Russian collusion is a farce.
CHARLIE ROSE: OK, I didn't say collusion. Did the Russians try to influence the election?
STEVE BANNON: If you consider maybe something they did that at the DNC-- who-- who--
CHARLIE ROSE: Maybe something they did--
STEVE BANNON: --maybe someone that did--
CHARLIE ROSE: That's not what the CIA believes. That's not what the FBI believes--
STEVE BANNON: --maybe-- maybe what they-- have you seen-- have you seen the intelligence reports?
CHARLIE ROSE: No.
STEVE BANNON: OK, fine. So you don't know--
CHARLIE ROSE: Have you seen intelligence reports--
STEVE BANNON: I have seen the intelligence reports--
CHARLIE ROSE: And are you saying to me those intelligence reports do not suggest that the Russians tried to influence the election--
STEVE BANNON: I don't-- I would never devolve classified information on this show. But let me tell you, I think it's far from conclusive that the Russians had any impact on this election.
CHARLIE ROSE: Well, that's not the question. Did they try to influence the American election? That's what the investigation is about.
STEVE BANNON: We'll have to wait till the investigation is finished.
CHARLIE ROSE: Why does the president find it so hard to criticize Russia?
STEVE BANNON: Charlie, let-- this is what stuns me. I don't think the president goes out of his way-- what his point is, why pick another fight? We've got enough problems around the world.
CHARLIE ROSE: So don't criticize the Russians because we don't need another fight--
STEVE BANNON: He criticizes the Russians all the time. He knows the Russians are not good guys. We should be focused on how we bring the Cold War to an end, so we don't have to-- and I think it was President Obama's program, $1 trillion to upgrade the nuclear arsenal. Is that what you wanna do? Is that where you wanna spend your money? Would you rather spend $1 trillion in Cleveland, in Baltimore, in the inner cities of this country where we need to spend it, in the heartland of this nation? And I think what he's trying to say, in a world of anarchy, do you need another enemy?
CHARLIE ROSE: I don't know of a higher priority for you than going to economic war with China.
STEVE BANNON: Donald Trump, for 30 years, has singled out China as the biggest single problem we have on the world stage. The elites in this country have got us in a situation, we're at not economic war with China, China is at economic war with us.
CHARLIE ROSE: You want a trade war with China?
STEVE BANNON: I want China to stop appropriating our technology. China is, through forced technology transfer and through stealing our technology, but really forced technology transfer, is cutting out the beating heart of American innovation.
We asked Steve Bannon how he responds to criticisms of President Trump on national security that have been made by members of his own party.
Steve Bannon: On the campaign, what did the mainstream media say all the time about Donald Trump and national security? "He's a madman. He's crazy." The Republican establishment came out, all the Bush guys came out in the-- all those ads, OK? "He's irresponsible. He should not be allowed around the nuclear trigger." In going after the establishment, just like in national security, he's done it in a prudent method. He's--
CHARLIE ROSE: It's not just those guys. It's the former national director of Intelligence--
STEVE BANNON: Absolutely.
CHARLIE ROSE: --James Clapper--
STEVE BANNON: Exactly.
CHARLIE ROSE: --said he might not be trusted.
STEVE BANNON: This is once again where the narrative is dead wrong. And by the way, the head-- all the stuff in The Wall Street Journal, the sign advertisements, from all the geniuses in the Bush administration that got us here. The geniuses in the Bush administration that let China in the W.T.O. and genius in the Bush administration told us, "Hey, they're gonna be a liberal democracy. They're going to be free-market capitalism, OK? The same geniuses that got us into Iraq, that's the geniuses of the Bush administration. I hold these people in contempt, total and complete contempt. I don't wanna hear it. I don't wanna hear it. They're-- they're-- they're-- it's-- it's-- it-- it gets all over me like-- like nothing else. And you know why? They're idiots, and they've gotten us in this situation, and they question a good man like Donald Trump.
CHARLIE ROSE: Who are we talking about?
STEVE BANNON: I won't name names.
CHARLIE ROSE: Well, you have to name names 'cause, I mean, you're painting with a broad brush and that's not fair.
STEVE BANNON: You know, the Condi Rice, the George W. Bush, his entire national security apparatus.
CHARLIE ROSE: Brent Scowcroft, Colin Powell--
STEVE BANNON: Yes.
CHARLIE ROSE: Condi Rice?
STEVE BANNON: Absolutely. All of 'em.
CHARLIE ROSE: Dick Cheney?
STEVE BANNON: All of it. All of it. By the way, the Obama crowd, almost the same. Clinton crowd, almost the same. It's three administrations.
President Trump made Bannon CEO of his campaign just three months before Election Day. The campaign's biggest crisis was an October surprise, when a 2005 video surfaced of Mr. Trump using vulgar language to describe his encounters with women. He made those remarks to TV host Billy Bush. The Trump family and senior advisers held emergency weekend meetings. Those meetings included New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Republican Party Chairman Reince Priebus.
STEVE BANNON: And Trump went around the room and asked people the percentages he thought of still winning and what the recommendation. And Reince started off and Reince said, "You have-- you have two choices. You either drop out right now, or you lose by the biggest landslide in American political history." And Trump, with his humor goes, "That's a great way-- that's a great way to start our-- start our conversation." We went around the room. And you could tell-- I could tell from the incoming of politicians and I could tell from some of the politicians that were there is that the natural inclination of politicians are to be so overwhelmingly-- stunned and shocked by how the media comes on you. But Trump wasn't that. And I told him as he went around, I was the last guy to speak, and I said, "It's 100 percent. You have 100 percent probability of winning."
CHARLIE ROSE: But you seem to have done that at every point in the campaign. When he was in trouble, asking him to double down on his rhetoric, double down in terms of appealing to his base.
STEVE BANNON: Appealing to the American people and to the working class people in this country, absolutely. You know why? 'Cause ec-- it was a winner. That's why I told him, "Double down," every time. And on that day that's the first time and only time he ever got upset with me. He goes, "Come on, it's not 100 percent." I go, "It's absolutely 100 percent." And I told him why. "They don't care. They don't care about--"
CHARLIE ROSE: But they do care about respect for women. And it's not just locker room talk.
STEVE BANNON: They do, but that's just locker room talk.
CHARLIE ROSE: Did you lose confidence of anybody because they came to you at that point and said, look he ought to get out of the race, other than Reince Preibus. Did your attitude toward those people who said that you're just wrong?
STEVE BANNON: The Billy Bush Saturday to me is a litmus test. It's a litmus test. And I said it the other day to General Kelly during the Charlottesville thing, afterwards. It's a line I remember from the movie The Wild Bunch. William Holden uses it right before that huge gunfight at the end. "When you side with a man, you side with him," OK? The good and the bad. You can criticize him behind, but when you side with him, you have to side with him. And that's what Billy Bush weekend showed me.
CHARLIE ROSE: Boy, you took names on Billy Bush Sunday, didn't you?
STEVE BANNON: I did. O-- I gotta-- I gotta-- you know, I'm Irish. I gotta get my black book and I got 'em. I'll never-- you'll-- it-- that'll believe-- Christie, because of Billy Bush weekend-- and-- was-- was-- not looked at for a cabinet position.
CHARLIE ROSE: He wasn't there for you on Billy Bush weekend so therefore he doesn't get a cabinet position?
STEVE BANNON: I told him, "The plane leaves at 11:00 in the morning. If you're on the plane, you're on the team." Didn't make the plane.
CHARLIE ROSE: In all the conversations about you, there's this Saturday Night Live image.
CHARLIE ROSE: It basically shows you as some Svengali.
STEVE BANNON: Actually, the Grim Reaper.
CHARLIE ROSE: The Grim Reaper.
STEVE BANNON: I don't need the affirmation of the mainstream media. I don't care what they say. They can call me an anti-Semite. They can call me racist. They call me nativist. You can call me anything you want. OK? As long as we're driving this agenda for the working men and women of this country, I'm happy.
CHARLIE ROSE: To be this strong a defender, why aren't you there? Why, and would the president of the United States, who you applaud so loudly, have allowed you to leave if he didn't want you out?
STEVE BANNON: No, it's the exact opposite. I was the-- I was a st-- look, I'm not cut out to be a staffer.
CHARLIE ROSE: No, but you--
STEVE BANNON: And the Whi-- and the Whi-- and the White House-- and the Whi-- no, no--
CHARLIE ROSE: --your title was not "staffer."
STEVE BANNON: I was--
CHARLIE ROSE: Your title was "chief strategist"--
STEVE BANNON: You are a staffer. I was a federal government employee. There are certain things you can't do. I cannot take the fight to who we have to take the fight to when I'm an advisor to the president as a federal government employee. You can't do it.
CHARLIE ROSE: You know that this White House leaks like nobody's ever seen a White House leak. And that's where the reporters are getting the story. And they're getting the story about conflict between you and H.R. McMaster. They're getting stories about conflict between you and Jared Kushner, and you and Ivanka Trump. They're getting all these stories because people in the White House, including you, are leaking. You know that. And you have in fact said, "No administration in history has been so divided among itself about the direction about where it should go." So I wanna know from you, what's the divide?
STEVE BANNON: The divide is, first off, President Trump and the way President Trump has always run his organizations, he will always take diverging views, I think that's healthy. 'Cause I think for an idea, a Darwinian environment for idea is positive. Now, the one thing I disagree with is that, I think, there has been a divide in this administration from the beginning. It's quite obvious. There's one group of people that on the campaign, that said, "All you have to do is do what you said you were gonna do in these major areas. Let's punch out one thing after the other. You're gonna keep your coalition together, and we're gonna add to it over time as you're successful." There's another group that has said, "Let's compromise, and let's try to reach out to Democrats, and let's try to work on things that we can do together."
CHARLIE ROSE: Did General Kelly say to you, "You've gotta go"?
STEVE BANNON: Absolutely not. What General-- I went to General Kelly on August 7th saying, "My one-year anniversary's coming up." And in fact, when I went to him on the 7th and said, "Hey, I am-- I'm gonna put in my letter of resignation, and I'm gonna be outta here on the 14th. It'll be one year to the date."
CHARLIE ROSE: But by that time, and you know this, you were isolated inside the White House.
STEVE BANNON: That's not-- absolutely not true. I still-- I was still-- I had the same influence on the president I had on Day One.
CHARLIE ROSE: This is the first television interview you've done.
STEVE BANNON: Yes. Ever.
CHARLIE ROSE What I have received from you in this conversation is Donald Trump-- you believe is a historic figure. You believe that Donald Trump-- I mean, you-- has been without criticism, and I don't believe you're the kind of person that doesn't give him--
STEVE BANNON: It's not--
CHARLIE ROSE: --the same kind of criticism.
STEVE BANNON: --it's not without criticism. I think if there's one criticism or one observation is that the president in coming here, right, has still thought -- at least in the beginning of his administration -- that it's about personalities, and, "If I can change this personality," or, "If I can get this guy on my side, I can do that." And it's not what the institutional logic is. I think some of that was with the FBI and others in the State Department and how his foreign policy is playing out. But I believe you're gonna see over time he's gonna have a greater appreciation that this is a city of institutions, and you must engage them as institutions, not just as personalities.
CHARLIE ROSE: Does that mean he'll be more quote "presidential."
STEVE BANNON: I think-- by the way, I think-- when you say presidential I think he's very presidential.
CHARLIE ROSE: OK.
STEVE BANNON: OK-- OK, I think he's very presidential. This is one of the things he uses OK, he uses Twitter-- and not-- they used to call me, "Oh, you're the-- you're the enabler of the Twitter." I think what he does on Twitter is extraordinary. He disintermediates the media. He goes above their head and talks directly to the American people.
CHARLIE ROSE: It's not a question of going over the head of the American-- of-- over the head of the media, it's what he says.
STEVE BANNON: It's what he says. No, it's what he says that the mainstream media, the pearl-clutching mainstream media. The pearl-clutching mainstream media. What they deem is not correct, what they deem is not right.
CHARLIE ROSE: No, it's not a question--
STEVE BANNON: If you ask--
CHARLIE ROSE: --about right or not right.
STEVE BANNON: What you deem--
CHARLIE ROSE: It's not a question of appropriateness. It's--
STEVE BANNON: It's what you deem is--
CHARLIE ROSE: --it's a question of whether it's in his interest. That's the point. Not the appropriateness of it.
STEVE BANNON: OK, I don't think he needs-- the Washington Post, and the New York Times, and CBS News. And I don't believe he thinks that they're looking out what's in his best interest, OK? He's not gonna believe that, I don't believe that, and you don't believe that, OK? This is another just standard in judgment that you rain upon him in the effort to destroy Donald Trump. He knows he's speaking directly to the people who put him in office when he uses Twitter. And it sometimes is not in the custom and tradition of what the opposition party deems is appropriate. You're-- you're absolutely correct, it's not. And he's not gonna stop. And by the way, General Kelly, I have the most tremendous respect for and has put in very tight processes. He's not gonna be able to control it either because it's Donald Trump. It's Donald Trump talking directly to the American people. And to say something else, you're gonna get some good there. And every now and again you're gonna get some less good, OK? But you're just gonna have to live with it.
Produced by Ira Rosen. Guy Campanile, Andrew Bast and Sam Hornblower, co-producers.
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