Steve Bannon Full Interview with Charlie Rose Revelatory

Charlie Rose’s full interview of Steve Bannon. Watch full interview
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Charlie Rose: Steve Bannon is executive Chairman of Breitbart News. Until recently he was chief strategist at the White House for President Trump. During the campaign, he became the CEO of the Trump campaign. He grew up in Richmond, Virginia, went to Virginia Tech, and Georgetown, and Harvard Business School. He worked for Goldman Sachs, he became a filmmaker. Last week I went to Washington to talk with Steve Bannon about politics, economic nationalism, about President Trump and about other issues that face this country. We recorded the conversation at his home which is also the office for Breitbart News. Two segments of that conversation appeared on “60 Minutes” last night. Here’s an excerpt from that broadcast.
Steve Bannon: Donald Trump’s a fighter, great counter puncher, great counter puncher. He’s a fighter. I’m going to be his wing man outside for the entire time. To protect —
Charlie Rose: So you’ll not be attacking Donald Trump in your role —
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 did this all go? Where does it 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 he should have instantly have denounced them, and you didn’t at first instinct. In fact, you seemed to be doubling down in terms of 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. But he’s talking about the neo-Nazis and neo-confederates, and the Klan, who by the way are absolutely awful — there is no room in American politics for that. There is 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: No exceptions in terms of siding with someone?
Steve Bannon: You can tell him, hey, maybe you could do it a better way, but if you are going to break, then resign. If you are going to break, well then 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 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: So Gary Cohn should have resigned?
Steve Bannon: Absolutely.
Charlie Rose: Were you upset about it?
Steve Bannon: I was of — I was of the opinion that you should condemn both the racists and the neo-Nazis because they’re getting a free ride off —
Charlie Rose: You said —
Steve Bannon: Hang on. They’re getting 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 mainstream media and the left wing media makes them up as some huge part of Donald Trump’s coalition.
Charlie Rose: David Duke! David Duke!
Steve Bannon: David Duke shows up for every media opportunity because you guys put the cameras.
Charlie Rose: Well, but…
Steve Bannon: Charlie, Charlie, Charlie, they’re irrelevant —
Charlie Rose: The media does not — the media does not make David Duke say what he says, that he 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 who 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, and you don’t appreciate the diversity, you don’t appreciate the respect, the civil rights.
Steve Bannon: I was raised in a desegregated neighborhood. The north side of Richmond is predominantly black, ok? I went to an integrated school, a catholic school. I served in the military. I don’t need to be lectured by a bunch of limousine liberals, OK, from the upper eastside of New York and from the Hamptons, OK, about any of this. My lived experience is that.
Charlie Rose: Tonight, a longer version of the conversation with Steve Bannon for the hour. When did you first know about and come to personally know Donald Trump?
Steve Bannon: It was really in 2010. A guy named David Bossie, Citizens United. I had made a number of documentary films with Dave starting right after the financial crash in 2009, the film was focused on the Tea Party, and the Tea Party revolt, and he called me up one day and said — I was actually making a film for him and he said, do you want to go to New York and meet Donald Trump? And I said, not particularly, I’ve got so much to do here. And I said, why? He said, he’s thinking of running for president, and I go, are you kidding me? Is that serious? He goes, yeah. I said, fine, I’ll go up. And he says, I’d like you to be able to talk about this kind of — you continue to talk about this populist movement, I’d like you to be prepared to talk about the populist movement, economic nationalism and the Tea Party movement. I said fine. So I prepared some notes. And Dave went up gave a very detailed presentation. Today I realize it was on the famous 25th floor conference room. And given that President Trump is not a guy that likes to sit through long meetings, I mean, it took a long time. I think Dave and I were there for a couple of hours, at least. Dave went through a very detailed presentation of how you think about running for president, how you think about the primary process, how you think about the general election, he had a lot of details, and I chipped in. I had a segment on the Tea Party movement. I had a section on this kind of populist revolt.
Charlie Rose: What was your impression?
Steve Bannon: My impression was I had never really been in the presence of a guy that had this kind of charisma. I mean, he was incredibly charismatic. He had an intuitive feel. We talked a long time about China. I bet you half the time I started talking about economic nationalism, he really understood China. Clearly, he had been talking about it for 20, 30 years. I mean, very much like a Lou Dobbs — Lou Dobbs and Donald Trump to me are the guys I remember talking about China in the ’90s, in the 2000s, and he had a deep understanding of that. And he had a deep understanding about — really about the Tea Party movement. He kind of understood. He was following it very closely. One of the things about Trump — because he’s very — he really understands how to kind of name things in a very deep way. You know, he’s studied Jung, you know, it’s in one of his — I think it’s his third book.
Charlie Rose: Carl Jung.
Steve Bannon: He started to study Carl Jung quite a bit and you could tell it because he kept saying — I kept saying populist, and he kept saying popularist. And I tried to kind of correct him. And he said, no, no, it’s popularist. And we kind of agreed to disagree but I could see — I could see what his thinking was. So I left and I said no way he’s running for president in 2012, but this guy is a very serious guy, if he ever decides to do it, I thought it would be very serious. And he did write a book. One of the things we recommended is that, if you want to do this you should get a policy book out there. And he wrote a book, I think in 2011 and I think the subtitle of the book was “Make America Great Again.” I think the title is “Time To Get Tough: Make America Great Again,” or something like that. But the book, if you ever — and it’s not one of the most famous of the Trump books, but it very much lays out what he ran on in 2015.
Charlie Rose: And the title was Make America Great Again?
Steve Bannon: I think the title was “Time To Get Tough” and I think the subtitle was like “Making America Great Again,” in that book had that phrase for the first time. I think I remember saying it. It’s a very serious book. If people go back and look at the book, it came out in 2011, it really had a very deep understanding of kind of his thoughts on trade, his thoughts on America and the world, his thoughts on taxes and what people — In 2010, I can’t believe I came to meet with David and I said, I don’t think this guy is running for president any time soon, but I definitely —
Charlie Rose: You thought he had possibilities.
Steve Bannon: Absolutely, I started keeping my eyes on it. I saw him so, David Bossie and others in CPAC would invite him to these speeches, these gatherings. I think the first one is maybe in 2011 at CPAC and we had Breitbart at the time. I was also doing a radio show in Los Angeles, and I started watching him. Normally, when I go in to see politicians, I try to sit in the back or the side to watch the crowd, how their response is because most of the times, I’ve heard the speeches before. And I noticed something on Trump, there was a couple of things. He didn’t speak like a politician. He had a — he talked in a vernacular that people could relate to, and I noticed that people would lean in to his speeches. I’d seen that on Sarah Palin, that they have this — they have a connection, they have a visceral connection with working class people. They have a visceral connection with the middle class that goes beyond politics and that’s one of the things I started following. Telling guys, hey, I think this guy is going to be a serious guy.
Charlie Rose: In fact, you’ve called him the best order you’ve seen since William Jennings Bryan.
Steve Bannon: It’s a single reason I think that — and I think this is why most — this is why political consultants and strategists, I don’t really pay a lot of attention to guys on TV, et cetera, because I think they, by and large, have fallen into this thing of modern — you know, I came out of Harvard Business School, one of the big focuses is kind of the Procter and Gamble’s marketing. And they really have marketed candidates like products, right? You can see all the tells that they have in that and they try to form these guys but they — you know, the Frank Luntz “Words That Work,” you can’t say certain words and it gets so thin, so dry that there’s no real substance there. And I think today one of the things the internet has given us is this search for authenticity, right? And Trump, I’m telling you — and I can’t believe the media missed it, if you look at the campaign, I mean these speeches, these crowds were barn burners, and each one had a different policy perspective. And if go back and look at the speeches, it really is the plan for the Trump plan. But his oratory, and it shows you how people yearn for this, still, I mean his oratory is very powerful. He is the greatest speechmaker, orator, obviously I think in modern political history, I think it’s only been one, William Jennings Bryan, who was also a populist. But you cannot do three, four, five of these rallies a day, and come in fresh and galvanize an audience. If you go back and if you were sitting there live, it was just, I mean, the entire campaign because we didn’t have a lot of money, it wasn’t really a modern campaign in the fact that we didn’t do a lot of TV. We didn’t do — I mean, we took the modern of data mining and targeting and all that and coupled it with an old fashioned, you know, just let’s get this guy out and get him in front of the biggest crowd as possible. But the oratory is spell binding. I think he’s a spell binding speaker. And if you look at the audience, they are engaged. I mean, how many people wait eight, ten, 12 hours in line? We used to do a thing at the end to bring up the person who is in line first, people would be there 24 hours.
Charlie Rose: Right.
Steve Bannon: But then once you got inside, particularly if you’re not seated and people wanted to be down in the mosh pit, you know, people would stand three, four, five hours waiting for the speech. I mean, just the —
Charlie Rose: And that said, what to you?
Steve Bannon: It said we have got something. I mean, one of the things we — when I first got to the campaign was to make sure we tracked Hillary Clinton very closely. And I noticed that, you know, not only the speeches were terrible, they didn’t have kind of theme, they weren’t galvanizing. But we noticed like she went to Temple, she started going to these colleges and we could tell that the kids were from the other Democratic schools around town, they kind of — they’re there because they’re loyal Democrats, and there to see it. There was no rallying points. And he was the exact opposite. I think the speeches were clearly, clearly, you know, touching people, you know, hitting them — you know, Strah said only connect. He was connecting very hard.
Charlie Rose: The thing I noticed about his speeches is that he has a conversation with the audience.
Steve Bannon: Yes. It’s call and response a lot of times.
Charlie Rose: Yeah.
Steve Bannon: You know, they know after a while where the call is and they’re going to do the “lock her up,” you know, “drain the swamp,” “CNN sucks.” (LAUGHTER)
Charlie Rose: You agreed with all those points?
Steve Bannon: Absolutely, I thought they were all true, they’re all key.
Charlie Rose: Including “lock her up”?
Steve Bannon: Well, I — you know, one of the things coming into the campaign, and that’s why, you know, I don’t know why people had to have meetings with other countries, but I thought there was more than enough there. You know, I was the head of the group with Peter Schweitzer, the great author, and you guys have had him on “60 Minutes” a couple times, about crony capitalism, and we took I think two and a half years of Peter’s team of investigators to do Clinton cash, and there was clearly enough, you know, there that I think you could do all types if you drilled down further. So yeah, I think it’s definitely for investigations. I’m not one to politicize stuff but I —
Charlie Rose: But are you suggesting that somehow she ought to be vulnerable to an indictment now?
Steve Bannon: I definitely think that there should be further investigations. I think the Uranium One situation alone should have a much deeper investigation. I think the whole Clinton Global Initiative, the whole Clinton —
Charlie Rose: This is the fundraising aspect.
Steve Bannon: The fund — they had both the merchant banking and the investment banking, I think those things ought to really be looked at for Bill Clinton and herself, particularly her time as secretary of state. And I’m not one to politicize this. I’m not saying let’s go after Hillary Clinton just to Hillary Clinton. One of the core tenants of the populist movement is that we — and this is one of the things I made sure I put into the speeches about her. You know, what I told President Trump at the time, this campaign can be — it’s very simple. You know, she’s the standard-bearer for a corrupt and incompetent status quo, and you’re the agent of change. You’re the agent of change that Obama didn’t deliver. You’re an agent of change. If you — if we always have her as a foil, she’s the status quo, you’re the agent of change, you know, you’re going to win this thing. And you have to make that decision because the math was there, you saw her ratings, like two-thirds wrong track, right track. I think 70 percent of the American people thought the country was in decline, particularly economic decline. So all the underlying substrate of an electorate that wanted change — and it was a change election — was there. And if you force her to defend the status quo, if you force her to kind of this permanent political class that has a grip, regardless of party affiliation, has a grip on the city and has a grip on the nation, if you make her the tribune of that and do a compare and contrast, you’re going to win.
Charlie Rose: But isn’t it sad that we’re getting to a point in which people are calling for the other side to be put in jail and to be indicted?
Steve Bannon: You don’t want to politicize this, I mean —
Charlie Rose: That’s exactly what we’re doing.
Steve Bannon: Well, I know but — no, no, no — but look at President Trump. I mean, one of the things I continue to say, you talk about a, you know, a repudiation or a nullification of an election, I mean, look at President Trump. I mean, not only do you have a special prosecutor in the Justice Department, a couple of grand juries, you have on Capitol Hill, right, with Republican leadership, you have three separate committees. I think you have two in the Senate and one in the House, and they’re investigating him and sending out subpoenas and you know, they’ve had some big breaks already.
Charlie Rose: This is a Republican controlled congress.
Steve Bannon: I know, but look at that for a second, that’s what I’m saying, if you look at the nullification of this election, it’s one of the reasons I left the White House and I talked to the president about it, I think he needs air cover on this. I think if you look at this, the nullification of this election I don’t think is coming from the left. Yeah, you have the Democratic Party and you have the corporatists, and you have all this. And I kind of think they’re second or third tier as I’m sure we’ll get into, but principally the Republican leadership has allowed three committees to go and principally be run by Democrats. I think Adam Schiff is running the House Committee, I see him on TV all the time. Looks like Mark Warner is running the Senate Committee and not Senator Burr. Can you imagine — let’s just take in political physics — can you imagine if Hillary Clinton would have won and Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi were the heads of the Senate and the House, that you would have three committees investigating President Hillary Clinton, and you would actually have Republicans running those committees? Of course, you wouldn’t.
Charlie Rose: This gets us into policy discussions about the Russian probe. Let me defer to that for a second and go back to the campaign.
Steve Bannon: Sure.
Charlie Rose: At the time you met Donald Trump, impressed by him?
Steve Bannon: Yes.
Charlie Rose: Impressed by his curiosity, impressed by his attention, was he at that time, talking about the birther issue? This is 2010.
Steve Bannon: Never brought it up.
Charlie Rose: Never brought it up.
Steve Bannon: Never brought it up. Later, he did approach me and we talked — not the birther issue, he did approach me about putting up — and I think this came out he later did it — but if myself and some donors would be interested in matching for a — not a fund, but a reward for like Occidental College, if they turned over President Obama’s college records, that there would be some sort of donation of, you know, $2 million or $5 million and I think that — it never came together, but I think right before the 2012, I think he actually did a video in his office where he actually said, I’ll put up a million dollars — I think it was Occidental College — would put up the funds. But he — I never had any conversation with him at all when he talked about the birther — in fact, on the campaign, I think it was in September or October, we actually had that session where he went to his hotel and said, you know, President Obama was born in the United States. I never had any conversation with him.
Charlie Rose: But that came after a long period of making it a big public issue for him.
Steve Bannon: You know, Breitbart — Andrew Breitbart was very famous and our site was very famous of not being a birther site. In fact, the first time — at the first Tea Party convention in 2009, I think it was 2009 or 2010 — early 2010 where Sarah Palin kicked it off in Nashville, Tennessee, the opening night was my film “Generation Zero,” Andrew introduced it. He and Joe Farah actually got into a tussle later where one of the “Washington Post” reporters got it because Joe Farah had gotten up and given a thing, he actually started I think with the gospel of Matthew, went through all the, you know, all the lineage of Jesus, and then he said, you know, even Jesus Christ needed a birth certificate, and the place went crazy. Andrew and him get in it later. So we were not — our site was not birthers, we were not birthers. But I never heard — I never heard —
Charlie Rose: So birthing was not an issue for you and something you believed in?
Steve Bannon: No, I thought it was — the paper and everything in Hawaii, it just — it boggled the imagination it could happen. By the way — but I know people that ran around and, you know, talking social security numbers and there was a big item for a while but it was never — my issue with President Obama was never where he was born. My issue with President Obama were his policies, not where he was born. But I never heard President Trump mention that one time.
Charlie Rose: How did you get involved in the campaign?
Steve Bannon: Well, you know, I had spent — I never spent much personal time with Trump, even at CPAC when he would have a suite, my sister would go up there as people of the company, but I probably didn’t spend 15 minutes in the interim years with Donald Trump personally. You know, he came on my radio show and now he’s on the pages of Breitbart. It was in — if I go back really to 2013 in January, in fact, at this very table, I had a meeting with Jeff Sessions and his young aide-de-camp Stephen Miller. And this was right after the 2012 defeat, and we had a dinner and we laid out the RNC was coming out with the autopsy report that said that you had to, you know, had to go to something like Gang of Eight, amnesty, all this, it became the kind of lexicon of the Republican Party. And I had read an analysis in “Real Clear Politics” by Sean Trende that talked about how working class people had not come out and voted for Mitt Romney and that would have made the difference if they had. And so I started doing just some analysis about what a working class movement and this populist movement, what it could really do in a general election. Had a dinner with Jeff Sessions who was kind of the Agrarian populist that was really the spiritual head of this movement, and I talked about two things. I said, look, trade is number 100 on the list of issues, nobody ever talks about it and immigration is like two or three, but if we ran a campaign that really focused on the economic issues in this country and really got people to understand how trade is so important, and immigration are inextricably linked, about the suppression of wages for the working class and really pulling down the middle class, you know, we could really set this thing on fire. And I said look, you’re not going to win the primary. You’re not going to be president of the United States, but it’s a way for us to use it as a vehicle to get it into the general conversation. Senator Sessions said I agree 100 percent, I’m not the guy, but I agree with you, that person will arrive. And so I started to…
Charlie Rose: And then he became the earliest supporter of Donald Trump?
Steve Bannon: He, intellectually always, I mean, because intellectually, you could tell this movement that was going on. Remember you had the huge battle in 2013 for immigration which was really the Civil War of the Republican Party. It was the Gang of Eight, and I think in June or July it finally got voted down, I believe in the House, and it was just — it really tore the party apart I think a lot. The following year, Eric Cantor as the majority leader, first time in American history got defeated in the primary by a guy who raised $200,000, Dave Brat, on the issue of immigration and these trade deals. We could see this was going to get traction. I was following Trump at the time and the other candidates at these small forums and you could see Trump was starting to talk about these issues, particularly talk about trade with China, talking about NAFTA, talking about the bad trade deals. I could see the applause, I could see — because no other Republican would talk like this. They were all free trade guys. He would talk about immigration. He would talk about what we had to do with illegal immigration.
Charlie Rose: But he didn’t just talk about it, I mean, he talked about it in the most graphic terms, calling people who were coming from Mexico rapists. That was when he made the announcement.
Steve Bannon: That’s when he made the announcement. I think if you go back and look at these other speeches he was making, he was making a case of a policy case, right? And he was doing it with his — remember, he does not speak like a politician. He speaks in a very plain-spoken vernacular. Here’s the thing I took away from it, it resonated with people like you couldn’t believe. No other Republicans were talking about this. Remember, they had a standard doctrine of free trade and kind of limited government and I’m not saying all that’s wrong — free trade, I obviously don’t agree with — but it was just not resonating. And then ’15 led to early ’16, or ’14 led to ’15, and you can see when Trump announced. You know, because I think he was like fifth or sixth in the polls when he announced, because nobody thought he was serious. When he announced it was galvanizing. And of course the media bit right away on the comments about illegal immigration and blew it — I think blew it up to the thing that it galvanized everyone to focus on exactly what he was talking about. And then from then on — it was interesting, that —
Charlie Rose: But you were not part of the team by then?
Steve Bannon: No, we were running Breitbart but I could tell — I could tell this was something — look, we’re like a throwback to the newspapers in the 19th century. You know, we have very set beliefs at our media operation. You know, we’re populists, we’re economic nationalists, we don’t — we believe in America first, we don’t believe in a lot of foreign intervention that’s not in the vital National Security interests of the United States. So Trump was really — and we had others, Huckabee and there were other populists out there, Ted Cruz had a huge following for a while. But we noticed like even in the first debate, we kind of had a classic battle with Fox News. The very first debate when Megyn Kelly jumped Trump, you know, with this Twitter feed and what had been on Facebook page, and whatever in “The Apprentice,” you know, we had kind of a break with Fox. We could tell that Fox was trying to run interference for the traditional Republican candidates whether that was Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio, or these more traditional candidates and they were trying to go after Trump.
Charlie Rose: So how did you become the CEO of the campaign?
Steve Bannon: What happened was that, you know, after the convention and then after president — Hillary Clinton’s convention, it was in mid-August, there was an article by Maggie Haberman on a Saturday morning in the “New York Times” that really talked about how his campaign was in disarray, it was falling apart, the campaign guys didn’t think they could talk to him. He was very unhappy, et cetera. And so, you know, I did some checkings. I got the paper, Saturday paper, at 7:00 in the morning, I’m sitting at Bryant Park, reading my paper and drinking my coffee at 7:00. And this thing looked a lot worse because we weren’t intimately involved in the Trump campaign, we were following it. And we knew the numbers were looking bad, you know, you had the Khan situation, you had the Judge Curial situation. And I started calling around looking at numbers. And guys were saying look, it’s 12 to 16 points down and this is looking bad. The Republican establishment that weekend, you know, was looking to say hey, we’re going to cut this guy loose. This guy is going down, and we have to save the House, we have to save the Senate. I talked to two of the — I talked to a couple of the investors in Breitbart, Bob and Rebekah Mercer, and you know, talked to them about it. And as Rebekah and I talked, we basically said, you know, we knew Kellyanne Conway very well, she had run the super pac for the Mercers for Ted Cruz. She was now a pollster.
Charlie Rose: And the Mercers had been supporting Ted Cruz.
Steve Bannon: To $25, 30 million. By the way, they came over and were huge Trump people. They would — they had actually met, I think Rebekah had met with Ivanka and Jared back in June and just wanted to say hey, we’re going to put in the same — you know, we’re going to put in some serious money into a super pac, we really support him. And we talked and they said, what do you think? I said look, this guy can win. There’s no doubt in my mind, 100 percent certain that if he just stays on this populist economic message that got him through the primaries.
Charlie Rose: But the unspoken deal was that you could show him how to win as a populist, but the deal for you was that you would get an opportunity to see a populist agenda enacted from the White House.
Steve Bannon: That deal was never — it’s never a — it was really, hey, you are a populist, you’re an economic nationalist, you have these beliefs, because they’re Donald Trump’s beliefs, all we have to do is highlight —
Charlie Rose: You didn’t have to convince him?
Steve Bannon: No, no, no, his default position — by the way, if you go back into the primary, the entire time, these are all coming up, he talks about this all the time. It just hadn’t really been — in fact, in the acceptance speech at the convention, you see a very powerful, I call it the Wittenberg Cathedral speech, I thought he nailed — you know, the speech was looked at as being artless. I thought the exact opposite. I thought it was like a jack hammer.
Charlie Rose: Because he hit all the points that you wanted him to hit?
Steve Bannon: It was just powerful. He was just hitting the populism —
Charlie Rose: Immigration, trade.
Steve Bannon: Trade, the basic course and it was relentless. In fact —
Charlie Rose: Attacking the establishment.
Steve Bannon: Attacking — and I was watching CNN afterwards because I was doing the radio show and I was watching CNN and they were all saying the worst acceptance speech ever, it didn’t show unity, didn’t have the uplifting rhetoric of binding America. And then I think they want to a panel and, you know, the panel was like 70 percent, we loved it. It really got to us, he told us what he was going to do. So you could see, if he could pierce the shell, and that was the whole thing — look, when Trump says he’s his own strategist, he is his own strategist. He’s a guy that really knows the world. And so, this was just very simple. It was just to make sure we took away all the other nonsense away from the campaign and just focused on his core message which he had — by the way, it’s something he’s talked about for 30 or 40 years. It’s to the core of his being. All we had to do, and he’d won in the primaries, is just set up a system to basically compare and contrast himself with Hillary Clinton. She’s the standard bearer of a corrupt and incompetent status quo, OK? I’m the agent of change. I’m the agent of change you thought you got in Obama, but you didn’t.
Charlie Rose: What did he expect from you and what did you expect from him?
Steve Bannon: I think he just expected him — he was going to be just the candidate he could be.
Charlie Rose: But did you see him as a guy who could give voice to this economic nationalism?
Steve Bannon: Yes, he could…
Charlie Rose: That you believed in?
Steve Bannon: Yes, absolutely. We saw that from the beginning. I mean, that’s why the site itself — when he came down, you know, Breitbart said, they started going “Trump-Bart” but we finally saw an individual, somebody in the political arena that could articulate and particularly touch the American working class people with this vernacular and actually get a response of it.
Charlie Rose: And did you bring him a certain constituency that he might not have reached?
Steve Bannon: In the primaries, no doubt. I mean, he had a guy name Sam Nunberg, that worked for him for years. Sam Nunberg was the guy that had the Facebook controversy in the summer of ’16 that was let go. Nunberg had been very close to us for a long period of time. And he made sure Trump saw the Breitbart stuff, the Breitbart audience at that time, was this kind of populist economic nationalists but had tremendous amount of limited government conservancy.
Charlie Rose: You have been attacked for what was on Breitbart because people looking for ways to characterize you, look at the things that are on Breitbart —
Steve Bannon: It’s total nonsense. Let’s talk about that for a second. You know, we put up 250 to 400 pieces of material a day. I’ve got sites in Jerusalem. I’ve got sites in London. We have video sites a day and they pick a hand of satirical — satirical headlines to pick it up. Let’s talk about the one they say, you know, Bill Kristol, Renegade Jew, right?
Charlie Rose: Right.
Steve Bannon: That’s a story written by and a headline picked by one of the most prominent conservative Jewish writers in our country, David Horowitz. He wrote a two-part series, and he was calling Bill Kristol a renegade Jew because of not supporting the state of Israel enough. This is what the left throws up. I mean, to say — we’re the most pro-Israel site. The most pro-Israel site in this country is Breitbart. The most anti-BDS site in this country is Breitbart. The one that has the protection of young Jewish kids on college campuses is Breitbart. The one that has done more articles on the plight of the Jews of Europe is Breitbart. And so when they say antisemitic, the reason I don’t, and by the way, I’m giving a key note address to the Zionist Organization of America in the fall, introducing Sheldon Adelson, being introduced by the ambassador from Israel, Ron Dermer —
Charlie Rose: Right.
Steve Bannon: The reason I don’t — the reason I’ve never defended myself against any of this, or even Breitbart, is when the left is in the cul-de-sac of identity politics, we’re winning.
Charlie Rose: Do you believe that if in fact somebody is talking about racial identity and identity politics rather than economic issues, they lose?
Steve Bannon: Let me give you the perfect example, 100 percent. Here’s the example. When I was announced on Monday or Tuesday after that Saturday and Sunday with Trump, the mainstream media on the left go, Trump is down 16, we know he’s headed to 20, the Clinton campaign knows it’s over for him, OK, he knows it’s over for him. He brought in a bomb thrower, and he brought in this guy Bannon, what’s this guy Bannon going to do? Bannon is going to wreak havoc on all his enemies on the way down. This is Trump’s — it’s all going to be vengeance, right? And what you saw was the exact opposite, a highly disciplined focused campaign going to certain areas we knew he had to go to with that message every day of populist national —
Charlie Rose: In the industrial mid-west.
Steve Bannon: Yes, industrial mid-west, but also in — One thing, about a week later, Hillary Clinton who had been with all her fat cats in the Hamptons and Silicon Valley doing nothing but raising money, right, the entire time, she comes out to give her first speech since I was announced. So I go into the war room with TVs all over and all my young team there. You know, Jason Miller, Amy, Steven Cheung, we’re sitting there, on every TV and they got — she comes out and she goes, it’s the Breitbart, Bannon, white supremacist, alt-right speech. And I sat there, right then I told the crowd, I said, we got her. If that’s where she’s going to go, we got her. She’s done. We’re 15 points down. And right there I said, she’s reconfirmed to me she has no earthly idea what she’s doing. She has no earthly idea where this country is. Trump’s message and Trump, we can beat her. I thought at the time we could actually beat her big. Maybe not 300 electoral votes, but I said we can beat her. They walked into a trap. America does not think it’s a racist country. People don’t — you saw in Houston. This is the greatest country in man’s history of how we pull together. People don’t think they’re racist. And she’s sitting up there with identity politics at this time when the elites in this country have had an economic hate crime — you want to talk about hate crimes? Economic hate crime on the working class people in this country, that’s a hate crime. How the industrial base in this country has been eviscerated and the elites, the ascended economy of Silicon Valley, Wall Street, Hollywood, and Washington, D.C., and she’s got the gall to sit up there and talk about that, that’s exact — her whole defeat was summarized in that first day she came back, her whole defeat. And we knew it, and that’s why we drove hard.
Charlie Rose: So were you not surprised —
Steve Bannon: By the way, when they go to identity politics, I said this the other day — and Schumer and these guys, the smart guys, the populists on their side, they had that conference a couple of weeks ago, they came out and said, we know — the conference I think was three or four weeks ago, came out with, I think, the better deal. And they said at the time —
Charlie Rose: Chuck Schumer.
Steve Bannon: Chuck Schumer. And the guys around him, I think one of his top guys, said Bannon gets economic populism. He came out the whole thing. They’re saying we’re not talking about identity politics, we’re not talking about race, we’re talking about economics. And we deconstructed that thing. Trump’s already got programs for all of it. They’re trying to go after the core Trump program because they understand, Bernie Sanders understands, Sherrod Brown understands, Tim Ryan understands, Seth Moulton understands, Tulsi Gabbard understands that that’s what can win in this country.
Charlie Rose: Would those people have beaten Donald Trump, do you think?
Steve Bannon: I think if Sherrod Brown had been one of — the sighs of relief I had was when Sherrod Brown was not picked as her running mate, we would’ve still won, and we would’ve still —
Charlie Rose: But if Sherrod Brown had been the candidate in 2016 —
Steve Bannon: In 2016.
Charlie Rose: — you would have lost?
Steve Bannon: I don’t think we would have lost.
Charlie Rose: You would not have been able to pick up the audience.
Steve Bannon: I think — I think — no. Trump would have still won because he still comes encumbered, he still comes encumbered with a lot of the social stuff. I think in ’20, if Sherrod Brown had been the VP, is what I’m trying to say, instead of Tim Kaine, it would have been much harder.
Charlie Rose: Trump has made the point, when you talk about the contribution of Steve Bannon, that he’d already won a number of primaries. How do you measure your contribution to this campaign?
Steve Bannon: It was a total team effort. Jared Kushner was really my partner at the top level. We had Kellyanne Conway. We brought in — the first call I made was to Reince Priebus to get the RNC up there, Katie Walsh, Sean Spicer, hired David Bossie to run with Katie Walsh day to day. So it was a huge team. Jason Miller comes. We had a fabulous team. Contribution I think was just kind of pulling the team together and saying, hey — because I was from day one, we have a 100 percent chance of winning this. What I used to tell the guys at Breitbart before I left, Napoleon told his marshals one time, when you set out to take Vienna, take Vienna. And that’s what —
Charlie Rose: What is it about you and fascination with military biography and military leaders?
Steve Bannon: I come from, you know, Norfolk, Virginia, and Richmond. Norfolk is a navy town. We were a navy family, blue collar working class family around the base, and Richmond, as you know, coming from the south, is imbued with history of the revolution, civil war, all the great contributions from World War II. So it’s just a thing as a kid. I knew I was going to go into the military, went to military prep school. My kid brother is a navy pilot —
Charlie Rose: Yeah, but you’re beyond that, when you go look at your library, you see a lot of books about military stories, a lot of books about biography. I mean, it is the library of someone who is enormously curious about history.
Steve Bannon: I am, because I think if you want to make an impact in the world, you have to understand both institutions and I think the flow of history. And one of the ways to do that is through the lives of great men and women, particularly the struggles. What you find when you study is that every one of them that became great over time or beloved over time had insurmountable obstacles in front of them and what they had to do to overcome those. And that’s what I picked up from history, and also, the cycles of history. That certain times, you know, like the bible says, there are going to be certain times of unity and there is going to be certain times of disruption. And in those cycles of history, you have to know, and I think the study of history allows you to see that. One of the greatest advantages I think I have, even in this town, is that from a very early age, nine or ten years old, I started reading serious history. My mother, you know, got serious history books for me. And it’s amazing, whether it’s Wall Street or even in Washington, which is pretty shocking, is people really don’t have a deep understanding of history and particularly the flows of history and the rhythms of history.
Charlie Rose: Does Donald Trump?
Steve Bannon: Donald Trump has an intuitive sense of people in moments. You know, people say, hey, is Donald Trump smart? Not only is he smart, he went to Wharton, I went to Harvard. I’m more on the poet side of MBAs, he’s more on the mathematical. Wharton really is known as the finance school. He has got something very unique about smarts, and that is applied intelligence in situations of immense pressure. You know, he always says, I don’t choke, that he’s a money player. I’ve seen him on so many situations where the pressure has been on and he’s had to think through a situation and deliver.
Charlie Rose: OK, let me bring you to Billy Bush. How do both of those things, that analysis, apply to Billy Bush? Take us inside the dilemma that he faced.
Steve Bannon: We first got the tape on Friday afternoon from “The Washington Post.” He and I came to the same conclusion and Jared and other people that, look, this was locker room talk, this was two guys on a bus or a dressing room years and years and years ago. This is not the guy that people know — people know Donald Trump. So we dismissed that as out of hand, over the top. And we thought the reaction would be so over the top from the mainstream media and from the left. And so that night, we did a little video, right, to kind of explain his situation. The next day, what happened, particularly in the morning, was that a number of people started to drop off the campaign, people starting saying they weren’t going to support Donald Trump.
Charlie Rose: Governor Christie?
Steve Bannon: Well, that came later. I think what happened is that we had a meeting up at Trump Tower and, you know, Reince came and some other people, advisers were there, and, you know, Reince is a fantastic guy, but I think really at that time was representing where the donors in the Republican Party were. He was incredibly upset. Reince had been with us the day before, came back. Trump went around the room and asked people the percentages they thought of still winning and recommendations. Reince started off and Reince said you have two choices. Drop out right now or lose by the biggest landslide in American political history. And Trump, with his humor, he goes, that’s a great way to start a conversation. We went around the room, and 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 it went around, I was the last guy to speak, and I said, it’s 100 percent. You have 100 percent probability of winning. And that’s the first time —
Charlie Rose: But you seemed 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? Because it was a winner. That’s why I told him to double down every time. 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. I told him why. They don’t care. They don’t care about —
Charlie Rose: They don’t care about —
Steve Bannon: They don’t care your rhetoric —
Charlie Rose: The American people don’t care about how you talk about women that way?
Steve Bannon: They don’t care about locker room talk when the average American, I think 50 percent of Americans have $400 in their pocket. Charlie, you have been out in the mid-west in this country. You have seen your own home state of North Carolina how it’s been gutted with manufacturing jobs — the furniture industry, the apparel industry —
Charlie Rose: Of course they care about that! Everybody knows they care about that and they care about that deeply and it’s a primary concern because if you can’t take care of your family, then you’re in huge problems in terms of your own self-respect and in terms of the dignity of your work.
Steve Bannon: Exactly. And that’s why JD —
Charlie Rose: But they do care about values and they do care about respect for women.
Steve Bannon: They do.
Charlie Rose: They do know that. And it’s not just locker room talk.
Steve Bannon: That’s locker room talk. The Billy Bush thing is locker room talk. By the way, we have empirical evidence to prove this. He got 44 percent of the female vote.
Charlie Rose: Did you lose confidence in anybody because they came at you at that point and said, look, he ought to get out of the race, other than Reince Priebus?
Steve Bannon: 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 gun fight 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. Billy Bush Saturday showed me who really had Donald Trump’s back to play to his better angels. All you had to do and what he did was go out and continue to talk to the American people. We have empirical evidence that I’m correct and you’re not. Here’s what it is. Not only did he win, he got 44 percent of the female vote. People didn’t care. They knew Donald Trump was just doing locker room talk with a guy, and they dismissed it. It had no lasting impact on the campaign. Yet, if you see the mainstream media that day, it was literally he was falling into Dante’s inferno. And I realized two things. Number one, traditional politicians will run for the hills. Trump is not a traditional politician. People don’t understand something. The mainstream media and the Democratic Party were not trying to defeat Donald Trump, they were trying to destroy Donald Trump. They were trying to destroy him and what he stood for, OK? And they went about it in a no-holds way. They tried to destroy him. People do not understand the courage this man has and the will this man has. There was no reason — you know why he ran? You know why he ran? People said — he ran for duty for his country. He is a billionaire, he has got an incredible wife, he has got an incredible family, he has got a great business, he has got every star in the world coming to him, he has got probably, if you look at the material life the most perfect life you have. Why would you give that up to go out and be destroyed?
Charlie Rose: Can I list for you about a thousand billionaires who would do the same thing if they thought —
Steve Bannon: Absolutely not. A thousand billionaires all had the fantasy —
Charlie Rose: If they thought that they could get the presidency, would go for it.
Steve Bannon: It’s not getting the presidency. You have to know what you’re going to go through to get it.
Charlie Rose: That’s a different question.
Steve Bannon: No, but that is the question. He knew at the beginning when he came down the escalator. Look what happened the next day after he came down the escalator. They went to destroy him that next day, it’s the reason —
Charlie Rose: Are you trying to destroy someone when you simply describe what they have said?
Steve Bannon: They’re not describing what he said.
Charlie Rose: If you run a tape, which is a news item, that’s not trying to destroy somebody, it’s simply trying to report —
Steve Bannon: No, no, no, Charlie, give me a break. If you look at this — let’s go back and look at the social media and the Twitter accounts of all the young reporters following Trump on the campaign of how they were coordinating with each other, how they were the opposition party. That day on CNN and MSNBC, that’s not just reporting the news, that has panel after panel after panel in an onslaught, we knew that. And here’s the way to defeat it, you know what he did? He was advised, go on “60 Minutes.” You know, have your wife and your daughter sit on the couch, you know, apologize, do all this, do that, go on TV that night. He went down. We’re actually in the room. He said, no. I’m going to go down. He took the elevator down. I think there were 10,000 people in the streets. He went down. Secret Service went crazy. He went outside and talked to his followers. We went back on the campaign that following — you know, we had that Sunday night, we had the debate in St. Louis. The famous debate where we brought the women, the Clinton accusers.
Charlie Rose: That was your deal?
Steve Bannon: 100 percent.
Charlie Rose: You wanted to do that for a while?
Steve Bannon: 100 percent.
Charlie Rose: Why?
Steve Bannon: Because I thought if you’re going after Donald Trump for his words, let’s have the Clintons defend Clinton’s actions. Those women wanted to confront Clinton for the longest period of time. And yes, I was very prepared —
Charlie Rose: You’ve been looking for an opportunity.
Steve Bannon: I was very prepared to give them the opportunity, and boy, we had one in that debate, because we had the trap set, and they walked into it, only at the last second did the —
Charlie Rose: Debate organizers.
Steve Bannon: Debate organizers, we almost had a fist fight.
Charlie Rose: Between you and whom?
Steve Bannon: Our lawyer, Don McGahn at the time, and I think Fran Kauf and Ricardi, or whoever the guy is. It was hard because what they allowed to happen with Mark Cuban at the other debate. They had promised us that Mark Cuban wasn’t going to be in the line of sight, that Cuban was going to be four or five rows back, because Cuban made a big deal, I’m gonna get in Trump’s head. And at the very last second, they put him right down there. And I went to those guys and said — because Rudy and I had cut the deal beforehand — I said, how is this? They said, we can’t control it. We don’t have security to control it. You know, a guy can do what he wants to do. So we tried to pull the same thing, and I had the women, the accusers sitting right in that VIP box. Bill Clinton had to walk right past them on national TV to start the debate. And guess what? They were going to confront him.
Charlie Rose: What does it say about Steve Bannon?
Steve Bannon: He’s a good counter-puncher. I’m a fighter. I’m a street fighter. OK? I’m a street fighter. And if I’m going to fight, I’m going to win. And Donald Trump’s a street fighter.
Charlie Rose: You’ll do whatever is necessary to —
Steve Bannon: Inside the bounds of decency. Is that not inside the bounds of decency? To allow the accusers of Bill Clinton, these women, to actually have a shot to confront him? Is that outside the bounds? I don’t think so. I don’t think so. I think it’s something that has needed to be done for a long time. The Clintons are so high and mighty, and they accuse Donald Trump, and their campaign specifically, if they had not gone after and the mainstream media and the left had not gone out to try to destroy Donald Trump particularly for something like language, ok, then, it would have been different. But no, if they’re going to play like that, they’re going to have to — we will ratchet up the stakes. They’re the guys that did the Cuban situation. That was the whole thing to get into Trump’s head.
Charlie Rose: The Mark Cuban thing.
Steve Bannon: Mark, yes. I said, you wanna be cute on Mark Cuban? I’ll see you and I’ll raise you one.
Charlie Rose: I want to move to transition. I want to move to the government —
Steve Bannon: By the way, we rattled her, you could tell. She was rattled, we know from her campaign, and he was rattled, we got to them.
Charlie Rose: Didn’t she win by all the debates?
Steve Bannon: Absolutely not. No way.
Charlie Rose: Who won the debates?
Steve Bannon: Our strategy in the first debate was to mitigate our downside risk on policy. I think Trump — I think it was even, I think it was a draw.
Charlie Rose: Even at first; second debate?
Steve Bannon: We won hands down, not a question. St. Louis, the town hall, we won hands down. I don’t think there’s any question. I think he fully dominated the space. Her new book actually says, I wish I had confronted him more. She actually says in her book, she wished she had gotten — you know, he was in her space, she wanted to get there. I think in that question and answer, I think it was spectacular. Third, I think it was a draw to us slightly. But, remember, the debate where she was going to show, we divided the campaign into three sections. The first was from mid-August until the first debate. We’re 16 down. More importantly, we’re only 70 on the generic ballot. Basically, generic ballot is Republican ballot. You have to be at 90. Nine out of every ten registered Republicans have to vote for you. I think Trump was at 70, because a lot of Republicans are saying, he’s not a Republican, he’s not my guy. That time from mid-August until the morning of the first debate, we closed and on “Morning Joe” that Monday morning, I think it was the Bloomberg pollster, I think Joshua Green came out and said, we were inside the margin of error of being up one or two. We had closed the entire gap. The second part of the campaign was the three weeks of the debates. Remember, in the three weeks of the debate and we planned on it, she was supposed to crush Donald Trump, because she’s a policy wonk, she knew this, she was a much —
Charlie Rose: Do you think Comey made a difference?
Steve Bannon: The Comey part is irrelevant.
Charlie Rose: Really?
Steve Bannon: Totally irrelevant. Irrelevant, irrelevant. Maybe reinforced a little bit her corruption, but it was irrelevant, they’re e-mails. It was Clinton cash, and I think the greed and the banality of the Clintons that were much bigger, the negative side. That’s what we always focused on. You don’t need these meetings these guys took, you don’t need meetings, you had all the information you needed. The Comey thing I think was background noise totally. Completely. On the campaign, we never focused on it.
Charlie Rose: America didn’t care about the e-mails?
Steve Bannon: They didn’t care as much as I cared. You know why the e-mails are important? The e-mails are important because of Clinton cash. The e-mails show you, they’re smart. Those e-mails are the personal e-mails that show all the coordination with the speeches and all the favors done. Remember, when she went into the secretary of state, who were the people that didn’t trust her? Obama, who, you can say a lot about Obama, and I do, but he’s an incorruptible guy as far as standard political corruption of cash, OK? The Obama guys and John Kerry on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, what did they make her do? They made her have that agreement that before Bill Clinton or you guys do anything, you are going to notify us first and get our permission. She had to sign a document that said that. That wasn’t the right. That was Obama and that was John Kerry as a “sine qua non” of her confirmation. By the way, after she signed it, she never gave them anything. The 33,000 e-mails has all the Clinton cash stuff in it. So I would love to see the 33,000 e-mails. But was it essential? It’s not essential. Because you make the case how corrupt they are without them.
Charlie Rose: OK. We’ve established the campaign. Were you surprised you won?
Steve Bannon: I said it was 100 percent. In fact —
Charlie Rose: No, I know you said that, but were you surprised — was Donald Trump surprised on the day that the election, that he won?
Steve Bannon: The third phase of the campaign was a three and a half week sprint to the finish, OK, doing it every day. He could see the momentum picking up. He was an absolute believer we were going to win.
Charlie Rose: She believed she had the momentum.
Steve Bannon: That shows you how clueless they were.
Charlie Rose: They had the momentum until the last time that Comey came out because of this Wiener issue and that when Comey came out and made the announcement about that, that turned and halted their campaign.
Steve Bannon: Hang on. You look at the data and these places like Youngstown, Ohio, and these other places where you could see that this working class base was coming back to us. The guy Jake Sullivan is the one voice in their campaign. If you read the books, Jake Sullivan’s sitting there going, hey, I see where Bannon and Kushner are putting this guy, I see the speeches, look where they’re going. Who told me that also was Mark Cuban. Mark Cuban said, hey, I — Cuban says, I kept telling them, you’ve got to get to western Pennsylvania, you got to get Obama out there more. You got to get Obama to places where he won big. You’re not using him, you got to get more. He said the weekend beforehand, he knew they were in trouble. He gets a phone call and says, what are you doing on Saturday? He says, what do you mean? He says, can you come to Pittsburgh and open for her? We need a big crowd and she has a tough time drawing crowds, because she doesn’t excite people. She has no message. He went to Pittsburgh and he said, I knew they were in trouble. I knew they’re in trouble in western Pennsylvania. So don’t give me Comey and don’t give me things. We knew the momentum was on our side and closing. Now, I’ll tell you how much I thought we’re going to win. Roger Ailes calls me up like a week before or something like that. It was all this thing in the press every day, Trump TV, because Trump is going to lose by ten points, it’s over. And this whole scam —
Charlie Rose: So Roger calls you up and says you’re going to lose?
Steve Bannon: No, he says, hey, can you come to Palm Beach or come to his house, you know, the week after, you know, the weekend after the thing? I said, what are you talking about? He says, well, this Trump TV thing, you know, we ought to kick around, do we have some alternatives? And I’m prepared to even walk away from the last year of my non-compete, if we can put something together. And I go, because Roger Ailes was kind of my mentor, I said, what are you talking about? He goes, come on down. I said, hey, we’ll be putting a government together. And he said —
Charlie Rose: So Roger wanted to talk about the future in which after Donald Trump lost and build a new media empire? And build a new media empire?
Steve Bannon: Yes.
Charlie Rose: Right?
Steve Bannon: Yes.
Charlie Rose: Against Fox.
Steve Bannon: Absolutely against Fox.
Charlie Rose: That’s what he wanted to do?
Steve Bannon: Absolutely. He had one more round in the barrel. There is no doubt. Roger Ailes was incredibly aggressive about thinking about the future even when he died. He was planning on —
Charlie Rose: What did he contribute to the campaign?
Steve Bannon: He had come and just given us some ideas on the debate prep. He came and gave us all the stuff, I think he prepped Bush.
Charlie Rose: Bush 41.
Steve Bannon: Bush 41.
Charlie Rose: His media advisor.
Steve Bannon: And he told us about — I think he did a great job with candidate Trump at the time of talking about the difference between a town hall and the different types of debates and how you have to answer domestic issues. He was great. He’s a well of knowledge. But, he believed the Fox polling. He thought we were going to lose by a couple of three points. And I said, no way, we’re winning this thing. So Donald Trump was not surprised. I wasn’t surprised. Jared Kushner was not surprised. We, in fact, on the evening we got the initial exit polls, they were so terrible and so awful, what we had thought. I mean, getting crushed, losing everywhere. And even Ohio and Iowa, the two we thought we had bagged, I mean, dead even. Everyone said, don’t believe the polls. Jared is sitting there and Jared calls Drudge on the phone. And Drudge chews him out. I could hear Drudge saying, he said, don’t believe corporate media, these people are totally incompetent. They don’t know what they’re doing.
Charlie Rose: This is Drudge telling Jared?
Steve Bannon: Jared. We had seen the numbers —
Charlie Rose: Drudge is telling this to Jared?
Steve Bannon: Jared. Don’t believe the exit polls.
Charlie Rose: I see.
Steve Bannon: The exit polls said we were getting blown out. That’s when you see the coverage in the media that day after I think 6:00 or 5:00 when the first set of exit polls came out. Everybody was planning for an early night. They were all planning for this thing to be over by 9:00. You know, she was going to make her big acceptance speech. You could see the entire tenor. It reaffirmed to these guys that Trump was going to lose and probably lose in a landslide. And I never wavered from the 100 percent, but I’m looking at the numbers, and, you know, Jared —
Charlie Rose: What was the conversation between you and Trump on election night?
Steve Bannon: Jared called Trump right them — called the president right then. The president said, let’s see how it turns out. We don’t know. These are early numbers. So, we hunkered down and then we just went back into the data room.
Charlie Rose: So Donald Trump had no doubt on election day that he was winning this election?
Steve Bannon: He might’ve had some reservations. He might’ve had some reservations, but I think he felt he had left it all on the field and particularly the culmination of that to see those crowds — by the way, people waiting one time in Virginia until like 2:00 in the morning, they had been there since 6:00. We were so late, been there like 8:00. You see the enthusiasm of those crowds. You see the intensity of this. You see the polls tightening. He definitely believed he was going to win.

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