House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is calling on President Donald Trump to fire chief strategist Steve Bannon and “other alt-right white supremacist sympathizers.”
“The President’s statement on Saturday was a direct reflection of the fact that his chief strategist, Steve Bannon, is an alt-right white supremacist sympathizer and a shameless enforcer of those un-American beliefs,” Pelosi said in the press release posted on her congressional website and tweeted out by journalists.
Pelosi: If Trump "is sincere about rejecting white supremacists" he should fire Bannon & other "alt-right white supremacist sympathizers" pic.twitter.com/vCUW3SzheM
— Sarah Mimms (@mimms) August 14, 2017
“In his long overdue statement today, President Trump called white supremacists ‘repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans,’” Pelosi said. “If the President is sincere about rejecting white supremacists, he should remove all doubt by firing Steve Bannon and the other alt-right white supremacist sympathizers in the White House.”
In the press release, Pelosi claimed Trump “has sheltered and encouraged the forces of bigotry and discrimination” and that his initial remarks about the recent events in Virginia as being “well in line with the unmistakable conduct of his Administration toward immigrants, Muslims, and communities of color.”
“It shouldn’t take the President of the United States two days to summon the basic decency to condemn murder and violence by Nazis and white supremacists,” Pelosi said.
This is not the first time that Democrats have made baseless attacks on Bannon and called for his firing.
In June, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) falsely accused Bannon of being anti-Semitic and was afterward criticized the the Zionist Organization of America, which supports Bannon.
In March, Breitbart News reported that MSNBC host Joe Scarborough sent a subtly coded message to an audience of one: President Donald Trump, you should fire Steve Bannon.
Scarborough had been on a tear against Bannon — a populist firebrand, top aide to the president, and former executive chairman of Breitbart News. The Morning Joe talk show host, twice in the span of three minutes, summed up Bannon’s political philosophy as “Leninist” — that is, wanting to “destroy the American republic.” This meme was based on a quote which Daily Beast author Ronald Radosh attributed to Bannon based on a conversation that the Radosh claims took place in 2013. Bannon said last year that he did not remember either meeting Radosh or having that conversation.
Even before Trump was elected and Bannon left Breitbart News to work for the campaign, presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager Robby Mook disparaged Bannon and falsely labeled him anti-Semitic, among other false labels.
“Donald Trump has decided to double down on his most small, nasty, and divisive instincts by turning his campaign over to someone who is best known for running a so-called news site that peddles divisive, at times, racist, anti-Muslim, anti-Semitic, conspiracy theories,” Mook said.
But those who know and have worked with Bannon tell a different story.
Jeff Kwatinetz, founder of the Hollywood management company The Firm, has told the Hollywood Reporter that Bannon — his former partner — is “not a racist or anti-Semitic.”
In November, when Bannon was named a Trump adviser, Breitbart Senior Editor-at-large Joel Pollak wrote about Bannon from their time as colleagues at Breitbart News. Pollak, who is an Orthodox Jew, said:
It defies logic that a man who was a close friend, confidant, and adviser to the late Andrew Breitbart — a proud Jew — could have any negative feelings towards Jews. As I can testify from years of work together with Steve in close quarters, the opposite is the case: Steve is outraged by antisemitism. If anything, he is overly sensitive about it, and often takes offense on Jews’ behalf.
Steve cares deeply about the fate of Jewish communities in America and throughout the world, a fact that is reflected in Breitbart News’ daily coverage. It was in that spirit that Steve joined Breitbart News CEO Larry Solov (also Jewish) in launching Breitbart Jerusalem last year, fulfilling Andrew’s dream of opening a bureau in Israel specifically to cover the region from an unabashedly Zionist perspective.
And Bannon has spoken publicly about his views.
“I’m not a white nationalist, I’m a nationalist. I’m an economic nationalist,” he told Michael Wolff of the Hollywood Reporter.
Likewise, he told Kimberly A. Strassel of the Wall Street Journal: “I’ve never been a supporter of ethno-nationalism.”
Moreover, Bannon is an important figure in the Trump administration to those who helped elect the president.
“More than any other member of Trump’s orbit, the former media executive and radio host, known as a bare-knuckle political fighter, has a following all his own,” the Associated Press reported in April. “He is viewed by many in the conservative core as the ideological backbone in a White House run by a president who boasts of his flexibility.”
“I think it’s important to recognize the value of the base. It’s important to recognize the base sees their advocate in Steve Bannon,” said Michael Caputo, a former Trump campaign adviser who has known the president for decades.
The New York Times’ Maggie Haberman reported:
Mr. Bannon also has admirers, including Representative Mark Meadows, the North Carolina Republican and the chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, who said that without Mr. Bannon, “there is a concern among conservatives that Washington, D.C., will influence the president in a way that moves him away from those voters that put him in the White House.”
And Representative Steve King, Republican of Iowa and an immigration hard-liner, said that shoving out Mr. Bannon would leave conservatives “crushed.”
Pelosi statement is a potential gift to Bannon – Trump won't want to be seen as reacting to pressure from Dems.
— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) August 14, 2017
On Saturday, Trump condemned violence and hate and called on unity of the American people in response to the protest.
We ALL must be united & condemn all that hate stands for. There is no place for this kind of violence in America. Lets come together as one!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 12, 2017
On Monday, Trump condemned specific groups in comments made at the White House.
“Racism is evil. And those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, Neo-Nazis, White Supremacists, and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans,” Trump said in the Diplomatic Reception Room at the White House after meeting with Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the FBI Director Chris Wray about the incident.