Transcript: Steve Bannon on "Face the Nation," February 24, 2019

Bannon: 2019 will be "real meat grinder" for Trump

The following is a transcript of the interview with former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon that aired Sunday, Feb. 24, 2019, on "Face the Nation."


STEVE BANNON: I was someone that told the president many, many times that he should not fire James Comey. That I thought that the- this collusion investigation was a lot of nonsense and was going to come to- to naught. Now I happen to think that the president, he had full rights and authority to fire Comey. I think you'll see a lot of stuff in the Mueller report, I believe, that will deal with potential obstruction of justice. And I think it will come down to decisions that people will think whether the president of the United States, as chief law enforcement officer, has the right to make those decisions or not.  But I- I've been pretty adamant that I- the collusion thing to me was always essentially a nothing burger and that the Comey investigation should have just played out.
 
SETH DOANE: Looking ahead to campaign 2020, do you think President Trump will see a primary contender?
 
BANNON: Oh definitely. I think definitely from the- from the center, from the- from the Republican party moderates and from the left of the Republican Party.
 
DOANE: Can he stand up to that?
 
BANNON: I think it will be symbolic. I don't think it will be serious.
 
… I think we have to get through 2019. I think two thousand-.
 
DOANE: People are already starting to look forward though.
 
BANNON: I think the next 90 days to four months is going to be a real meat grinder. I think the--.
 
DOANE: In what ways?
 
BANNON: You have the Mueller report coming out. You have what's happening on this investigation of the inaugural committee, you have the Southern District of New York, you have other investigations going on. I mean the pressure on the president is coming from many different angles. I think you've already seen it from what the Democrats some of these reports they've been dropping here without telling anybody. I think that now they control the House they can weaponize this, they could weaponize the Mueller report.
 
… I think that 2019 is going to be the most vitriolic year in American politics since before the Civil War. And I include Vietnam in that, I think we're in, I think we're in for a very nasty 2019.
 
… I think what comes down the other side of that, then you can position yourself for 2020.
 
DOANE: And you think the president can come out of 2019 in a much weaker position?
 
BANNON: No I think he comes out in a much more battle hardened position. I think it's going to be a very tough four or five months for the president. I think, for the team around him. But I think it will be- I think it will get him very focused.
 
DOANEDo you think the RNC is doing enough to protect Mr. Trump?
 
BANNON: I- I think the RNC is, I look, I had a good experience with the RNC during the campaign… I'm a little disappointed in 2018. I think the focus should have been on the house. I think there's no reason we should've lost the house. I think that was clearly about enthusiasm, about going door to door. I think the progressive left did a great job. I think they had the enthusiasm of the Tea Party. I think the RNC and the Trump campaign should have maniacally focused on the House to make sure we weren't in the situation now with these investigations and with the ability to weaponize the- the Mueller report. So they have to get better than they were in '18 because in '18 I think they let the president down. They got to get better for 20. I think every indication they are.