A fundraiser that Breitbart News executive chairman Stephen K. Bannon headlined for Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY) last week set a record for the congressman for this year, Breitbart News can exclusively reveal. Bannon is the former White House chief strategist who previously served as President Donald Trump’s successful general election campaign CEO.
Zeldin’s New York district is an important GOP seat in protecting the Republican majority in the House of Representatives, as former Speaker and current Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi aims to make a comeback in the 2018 midterm elections.
But current House Speaker Paul Ryan abandoned Zeldin, one of only two Jewish Republicans in the House, canceling a scheduled fundraiser for him — and endangering the majority. As soon as Bannon learned of Ryan’s decision, he reached out to Zeldin’s representatives and offered to headline the fundraiser for him. In addition to Bannon headlining the event, members of the host committee included Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), the former White House press secretary Sean Spicer, Blackstone executive Wayne Berman, Dallas businessman Tommy Hicks Jr., and Republican consultant Arthur Schwartz.
While specific numbers of cash raised are not being disclosed publicly right now, Breitbart News can exclusively report that Bannon’s fundraiser for Zeldin was easily the best the congressman had all year.
“These are challenging times, under attack by some of the most hate-filled liberal obstructionists in America all while facing retribution from the Speaker for doing right by my own constituents and state,” Zeldin told Breitbart News. “Navy veteran and blue star dad Steve Bannon, my good friend Jim Jordan, great hosts and many other supporters all have come together to organize my best fundraiser of the year; an amazing response that I very much appreciate.”
Bannon added that he felt it was “his duty” to step up for the Congressman after Ryan abandoned him.
“After Paul Ryan cancelled a fundraiser for Lee Zeldin, I felt it was my duty to do whatever I could to help,” Bannon told Breitbart News. “Congressman Zeldin is an American Patriot.”
Schwartz added that the fundraiser — again, the best of the year for the congressman — came together quickly after Ryan canceled, which makes it even more remarkable.
“The fact that we were able to put together such a successful event in a short period of time is a testament to the fantastic work that Lee is doing in Washington,” Schwartz said.
This revelation comes on the heels of a full declaration of war against Bannon by the Chamber of Commerce and the rest of the GOP establishment. The New York Times’ Jeremy Peters detailed that establishment Republicans “intend to kneecap [Bannon] before he has the chance to recover” after the loss of Judge Roy Moore in Alabama.
“First is to dry up his money,” Scott Reed, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s chief political strategist, told the Times when laying out the establishment’s anti-Bannon strategy. “Two is to try and drive a wedge between him and Trump to the point where Trump is questioning him and his judgment. You win, you win. You lose, you’re a loser. And that’s what Bannon has to wear around his neck now. A big L.”
Bannon’s fundraiser for Zeldin, however, was on December 14 — two days after the Alabama election — and was still a massive success, meaning that the Chamber’s and GOP establishment’s efforts to cut Bannon off from donors are failing miserably. Meanwhile, interestingly, the second part of the Chamber of Commerce’s and GOP establishment’s plan as laid out by Reed — driving a wedge between Bannon and Trump — is not working because it is Bannon fighting for the Republican majority in the House while Ryan is abandoning the president and his agenda.
Reports broke out late last week that Ryan is considering retiring at this end of this Congress. While Ryan has denied the rumors publicly, and to the president, many sources close to the Speaker have confirmed their authenticity to Breitbart News and other news organizations. This would not be the first time that Ryan abandoned Trump, either.
After the release of the Access Hollywood tape during the 2016 presidential campaign, Ryan told House Republicans in a conference call, per audio obtained by Breitbart News: “I am not going to defend Donald Trump — not now, not in the future.” Ryan, per audio of the call, was urging House GOP members to do whatever they wished in terms of abandoning Trump. But, now, Ryan is considering walking away from Trump again — largely because he does not want to be on the ballot with him in the future, according to a report from Politico’s Tim Alberta and Rachael Bade.
“The best part of this scenario [retiring at the end of next year], people close to the speaker emphasize: He wouldn’t have to share the ballot with Trump again in 2020,” Alberta and Bade wrote.
Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is certainly not pushing for the president’s agenda — and not on his side. So, with Ryan undercutting him and McConnell stabbing Trump in the back all day, where else is the president to turn than the GOP base — of which Bannon is one of the biggest leaders — for moral support?
With Bannon’s success in navigating a new bevy of donors and the political waters of the day, the GOP establishment’s plot to eliminate him and the economic nationalist movement is getting trickier and more unlikely to be successful by the minute.