The rise of Stephen Bannon, US President Donald Trump’s right-hand man

January 30, 2017 2:11 pm
President ’s elevation of his chief political strategist to a major role in national security policy, and a White House order banning refugees from certain Muslim-majority countries from entry, appeared to come together as cause and effect over the weekend.
– whose nationalist convictions and hard-line oppositional view of globalism have long guided Trump – was directly involved in shaping the controversial immigration mandate, according to several people familiar with the drafting.
                                                       Stephen Bannon
The order, which has ignited sweeping domestic and international backlash, came without the formal input of Trump’s National Security Council, the committee of top national security aides designed to ensure the president examines all policy issues from different perspectives.
In Trump’s case, the NSC has not yet been fully formed. Key department heads, including the secretary of state, have either not been confirmed or had little chance to be briefed by those under them.

The same directive appeared to downgrade the status of the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the director of national intelligence – the president’s senior intelligence and military advisers under statute – by limiting their attendance to some meetings.But even as the mechanism for full consultation with defence, diplomatic, intelligence and other national security chiefs remains incomplete, Bannon’s policy influence was established in a presidential directive that gave him something no previous president has bestowed on a political adviser: a formal seat at the NSC table.
Former President Barack Obama’s national security adviser, Susan Rice, called the measure “stone cold crazy” in a tweet. Former Obama defence secretary and CIA director Robert Gates, who said he was unconcerned about Bannon’s role, told the ABC that “pushing [the DNI and Joint Chiefs chairman] out of the National Security Council meetings, except when their specific issues are at stake, is a big mistake”.
Every president finds their judgment useful, “whether they like it or not,” Gates added.
A senior NSC official said that negative interpretations of both measures misunderstood both the intention and the effect of a directive whose overall aim was to make policy formation more inclusive and more efficient.
Bannon “is a trusted adviser,” said the official. “He’s got substantial policy responsibilities, and I think it’s very important that he is there to hear and to provide context to what is going on.”
“I think, candidly, that things in Washington, everything is political,” this official said. “We wanted to make sure that all viewpoints were considered at critical points.”

Despite his listing in the NSC organisational chart, Bannon “doesn’t have to be there all the time,” the official said.
The intelligence and military chiefs, the official said, “are invited as attendees to every single NSC meeting … There’s nowhere in that document that says they are excluded.”
While they are listed as attendees to meetings of the NSC – the highest decision-making body, chaired by the president – the directive says they will attend meetings of the national security principals meeting without Trump “where issues pertaining to their responsibilities and expertise are to be discussed”.
In surveying senior officials from previous administrations, those charged with organising the NSC were frequently told meetings were too frequent, too long and often inconclusive, and that officials were “tired of nano-management,” the official said of Obama-era complaints that were well-reported at the time.
K.T. McFarland, the deputy national security adviser, began her first meeting of NSC deputies by saying that ” ‘this going to be tight . . . 90 minutes. You’re going to come in, going to have your positions, going to be a decision-making body.’ The feedback we got was great,” the official said.

The directive, based on a template that all modern presidents have used in organising national security decision-making, changed a number of things from the Obama White House. From 23 deputy national security advisers under Obama, there are now only six under Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn, dealing with regions, issues including cyber and counterterrorism and functions such as legal matters.
Some offices such as cyber have been expanded, while others have been collapsed. Obama’s separate directorates on Europe and Russia have now been combined, the official said.
While Obama was criticised for the size of his NSC staff, and Congress enacted legislation to shrink the number of bodies, Rice cut it by about 17 per cent in recent years to fewer than 180 policy positions. Trump’s is unlikely to be much smaller, the official said, and numbers were a secondary consideration. All positions on the White House payroll have now been filled, and those detailed from other agencies – usually appointed for two-year secondments – will eventually rotate out.
Outside the White House, reaction to the new NSC organisational directive was less positive, with some saying that the immigration directive suffered from jumping ahead of the normal policy process.
That meant it and other orders were composed by political operatives such as Bannon and Stephen Miller, the White House senior adviser for policy, who is a Bannon ally and a former aide to Senator Jeff Sessions, Trump’s populist and conservative nominee for attorney-general.

Senior Trump officials offered differing public explanations for the Bannon appointment. Asked what the strategist contributed to NSC discussions, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said that Bannon “is a former naval officer. He’s got a tremendous understanding of the world and the geopolitical landscape that we have now”.
Asked if Bannon was “giving advice” on national security matters, Spicer said he was contributing analysis. “It’s about the intelligence that comes in and the analysis that comes out of that,” he said. “Having key decision-makers, and the chief strategist for the for the president to come in and talk about what the strategy is going forward is crucial.”
Bannon has no job experience in . After serving in the Navy for seven years in the late 1970s and early 1980s, his eclectic career took him to Goldman Sachs, to consulting to documentary filmmaking and then to the running of Breitbart , a far-right website known for peddling conspiracy theories.
From his perch as chief of the Breitbart News empire, which produced a satellite radio show, Bannon cemented his role as a champion of the alt-right, an anti-globalism movement that has attracted support from white supremacists and helped power Trump’s populist White House victory.
Trump sees Bannon as a generational peer who shares his anti-establishment instincts and confrontational style.

According to several people familiar with their relationship, Bannon has cultivated a rapport with Trump over security issues in recent months, and impressed Trump with his grasp of policy in talks they have held together with top intelligence and military officials.
The new president relies on Bannon to ensure that his campaign promises and nationalist worldview are being followed and are shaping national security strategy.
Trump’s approval of Bannon’s new role is seen inside the White House as the formalisation of a dynamic that has already been at work for weeks, these people said.
For many outside the White House, the optics of Bannon’s NSC appointment were bad, regardless of the motivation or the substance of his participation.
In previous administrations, political advisers have been banned from national security discussions – or at least not publicly acknowledged.

George W. Bush barred his political strategist, Karl Rove, from NSC meetings, according to Josh Bolten, Bush’s chief of staff. “The president told Karl Rove, ‘You may never come to a National Security Council meeting,’ ” Bolten said at a conference on the NSC and last fall.
“It wasn’t because he didn’t respect Karl’s advice or didn’t value his input,” Bolten said. “But the president also knew that the signal he wanted to send to the rest of his Administration, the signal he wanted to send to the public, and the signal he especially wanted to send to the military is that the decisions I’m making that involve life and death for the people in uniform will not be tainted by any political decisions.”
While Obama did not include political strategist David Axelrod in his own NSC organisational directive, Axelrod frequently showed up at the meetings – particularly those having to do with strategy in Afghanistan and Iraq – to the consternation of Gates and others.
“It is true that the Obama Administration did it,” said Peter Feaver, a political science professor at Duke University who served on the Bush NSC staff.
“It’s also true that we Republicans, myself included, sharply criticised them for doing it, precisely on the grounds that you are feeding the image that politics drove the decision.”
President-elect Donald Trump named some very important White House positions
over the weekend. His selection of one of his campaign managers,
Stephen K. Bannon, to chief strategist and senior adviser immediately
stirred controversy. Like Trump, Bannon is a Washington outsider who has
never been elected to office, and he is most known for running a
controversial website. Here’s what you need to know about Bannon:

1. Bannon is the executive chairman of Breitbart News, an “white supremacy” website.

Breitbart News is a divisive right-wing opinion and news outlet, known for offensive headlines like “Bill Kristol: Republican Spoiler, Renegade Jew,” “Trannies 49 Xs Higher HIV Rate,” and “Birth Control Makes Women Unattractive and Crazy.” According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the site promotes racist, anti-Muslim, and anti-immigrant ideas, and it has been accused of white nationalism, a movement that opposes multiculturalism and believes in the supremacy of the white race. Bannon, who is on leave from Breitbart, described his ideology to Mother Jones as “nationalist,” but not necessarily white nationalist. Former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke called Bannon’s selection “excellent,” and Peter Brimelow, who runs the white nationalist site VDARE, called it “amazing.”
Bannon, who has been with the site for about a decade and ran the business out of the basement of his D.C. townhouse, according to a Bloomberg profile, told Mother Jones about the site, however, “We’re the platform for white supremacy.” According to NPR, “The views of white supremacy are widely seen as anti-Semitic and white supremacist.”
The site was hugely successful during the 2016 presidential campaign, thanks to social media. On election night, Breitbart’s Facebook page had the fourth-highest number of user interactions on the whole platform, beating CNN, Fox News and the New York Times, according to the New York Times.
2. He started a nonprofit to investigate politicians.

Bannon is the founding chairman of Government Accountability Institute, or GAI, a nonprofit that investigates politicians and delivers findings to mainstream media outlets, like Newsweek and ABC News, according to Bloomberg.

GAI’s president, Peter Schweizer, wrote Clinton Cash as well as the e-book, Bush Bucks. Clinton Cash — which looked at donations made to the Clinton Foundation, a topic of constant attention during Trump’s campaign — was later made into a documentary.

3. He served in the U.S. Navy.

Bannon signed up to serve right after college, spending four years at sea, according to Bloomberg. His daughter Maureen followed in his footsteps, attending West Point and then serving as a lieutenant in the 101st Airborne Division.

4. He grew up in a family of Democrats in Norfolk, Virginia.

And he goes after Republicans, like Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, as well as attacking Democrats, like the Clintons.

“I come from a blue-collar, Irish Catholic, pro-Kennedy, pro-union family of Democrats,” Bannon told Bloomberg. “I wasn’t political until I got into the service and saw how badly Jimmy Carter f—ed things up. I became a huge Reagan admirer. Still am. But what turned me against the whole establishment was coming back from running companies in Asia in 2008 and seeing that Bush had f—ed up as badly as Carter. The whole country was a disaster.”
5. Bannon worked at the investment bank Goldman Sachs. 

Though Trump’s campaign promised to go after big banks, Bannon worked for one of the biggest.
leaving the Navy, Bannon earned a master’s degree in national security
studies at Georgetown University and then went on to Harvard Business
School before landing an investment banking job at Goldman Sachs’ New
York offices.
“The camaraderie was amazing. It was like being in the Navy, in the wardroom of a ship,” he told Bloomberg.
After leaving that bank in 1990, he started Bannon & Co., a
boutique investment bank specializing in media. The bank was eventually
bought and Bannon is no longer affiliated.

6. He has Hollywood ties.

When he ran his own investment bank, Bannon invested in films, and he eventually made the leap to directing movies, like In the Face of Evil, a celebration of the Ronald Reagan administration, and The Undefeated, a 2011 documentary about failed vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin.

7. He said progressives vilify conservative women because they’re not “a bunch of dykes.”
During a 2011 radio interview, Bannon said women like Ann Coulter, Michele Bachmann, and Palin threaten the progressive narrative.
“That’s why there are some unintended consequences of the women’s liberation movement. That, in fact, the women that would lead this country would be pro-family, they would have husbands, they would love their children. They wouldn’t be a bunch of dykes that came from the Seven Sisters schools up in New England,” he said, referring to historic women’s colleges. “That drives the left insane and that’s why they hate these women.”

8. He’s been wanting to shake up the Republican Party for years.
Breitbart News cheered on the Tea Party, a wing of the Republican Party, in its early years and supported the 2013 government shutdown, according to Bloomberg. In fact, in 2010, Bannon said in an interview, “What we need to do is bitch slap the Republican party.”

9. He was charged with domestic abuse.
In 1996, Bannon was charged with misdemeanor domestic violence, battery, and dissuading a witness, though the case was ultimately dismissed, according to a police report and court documents obtained by Politico.
The case was brought by his then-wife, who claimed Bannon pulled at her neck and wrist, then smashed her phone when she tried to call the police. His ex-wife did not appear in court and Bannon pleaded “not guilty,” so the case was dismissed.

10. His ex-wife has accused him of being anti-Semitic.
The same wife who accused Bannon of abuse said in 2007 court documents that he didn’t want their daughters to go to a particular school because of the number of Jewish students enrolled.
“The biggest problem he had with Archer is the number of Jews that attend,” she said in her 2007 statement, according to the New York Daily News. “He said that he doesn’t like the way they raise their kids to be ‘whiny brats’ and that he didn’t want the girls going to school with Jews.”
A spokesperson for Bannon told the Daily News: “At the time, Mr. Bannon never said anything like that.”
11. Bannon’s site Breitbart News has regularly attacked Planned Parenthood, going so far as to compare their work to the Holocaust. 
In an August 2015 article headlined “Planned Parenthood’s Body Count
Under Cecile Richards is Up to Half a Holocaust,” the author writes that
the women’s health organization, which provides a range of health
services including abortions and which Trump has threatened to defund,
has “comfortably surpassing Hitler according to its own annual reports.
You have to admire the chutzpah, if you’ll forgive my terminology:
Planned Parenthood has amassed a Third Reich-style death count
completely legally.”


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