B1 Intermediate US 27 Folder Collection
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So let's just start with the back story, the Steve Bannon kid, the brawler, your brother said. In what way?
Well, I mean, it's a—our neighborhood became, it was kind of, you know, white, working class, lower middle class,
old, internal suburb of an old city, Richmond [Virginia].
So I was inside the city limits, very close to downtown, and it became predominantly black in the '60s.
And my parents, you know, wouldn't leave; that was our neighborhood.
So it was a pretty—you know, it was a fairly tough—the north side of Richmond is a fairly tough section of town,
and you just kind of, you know, you just—I was raised in a working-class, Irish Catholic family,
went to a military prep school, and I was just kind of a, you know, just—just raised to not back down.
If you believe in something, you believe in something.
And you can't—if you show any weakness in a neighborhood—it's quite Darwinian as a young person, right?
If you show weakness, you're going to just get picked on and bullied and all that.
So you've got to—you've just got to—you just learn from the playgrounds, and you learn from the schools and the sports.
You know, there's no big, organized Little League or anything like that;
everything was kind of inner-city baseball leagues or basketball leagues, etc.
You just learn you've got to stand up for yourself, and you've got to fight.
And if you fight, people give you some space.
And if you don't fight, it's just… you know, it's not a great life.
So it was just—and it was—and it wasn't any big deal.
It was kind of like breathing air.
So I remember the story about your dad that you told that almost felt like one switch gets turned on,
and young Steve Bannon—you're a grownup by then, but it goes to this idea of trust,
trust in the government, trust in your company, trust that your dad had in his retirement accounts.
Well, look, we're Irish Catholic.
The Catholic Church, the Bell—
my grandfather and father I think are the only two guys in the history of the Bell System to be both 50-year employees.
My grandfather worked there 50 years as a lineman and a PBX [Private Branch Exchange] guy,
and my dad was 50 years, started in the sewer pulling cable and worked for 50 years.
So as a father and son worked 50 years for the phone company.
You had these big institutions.
I was fortunate enough to be raised in a great time in America, right, the '50s and '60s.
But you believed in these big institutions: the Catholic Church, the phone company.
And these were, you know, permanent fixtures in your life, and it was kind of that stability.
I came from a neighborhood that was a little bit tough, but it was not like—it was a very solid, great background.
As I go throughout the world and meet these very wealthy people I deal with all the time and see their kids,
the greatest thing you can give a kid is that kind of basic, core, loving family that's there and rock-solid.
So the family, the church, the community, the phone company, these are institutions.
And so institutions are everything.
It's a very institutional life when you think about it, and quite hierarchical.
But it gives you a set framework that you can grow and be—
you know, get to be an adult, and there's a real sense of, you know, something that's solid there, something that's real.
I think that's what broke down the financial crisis.
I mean, my father would rather—
he would tell me stories back in the Depression about one of the things
about his father working at the phone company is that they never laid anybody off during the Great Depression.
My dad was born in 1921, and as a very young person, he remembers all the neighborhood fathers got let go.
His dad still had a job; the phone company didn't let anybody go.
He also told stories about the, you know, borrowing against—they had like one or two shares of stock,
which was everything, and they would borrow against the stock to like buy the house and buy—
I think the house cost like 2,500 bucks or something in the '30s to build.
They borrowed against their AT&T stock.
AT&T, the Bell System, incentivized working-class people
to put X amount of their income away and actually become a shareholder.
And being a shareholder in the phone company, that's where my dad's entire net worth was.
And so, when, after the collapse, a couple days after the collapse, when Cramer went on TV,
Jim Cramer went on TV on CNBC and that morning just goes,
“Hey, if you need cash in like, the next five years of your life”—I mean, he's in a full panic.
If you watch the video it's quite shocking. It's shocking CNBC actually let him on.
But he's sitting there going, “If you need cash in the next five years, you've just to sell everything and go to cash,
because we don't know where the bottom of this is.”
And two days later—I remember, I'd been at Goldman Sachs, and my dad asked me my opinion.
A couple days later he sold all of his AT&T.
He would have sold his stock in the Catholic Church before he sold his stock in AT&T.
And he sold his stock.
And that—that struck me as that this is a crisis of the institutions of our country, right?
This is a—this is a massive—we now have an institutional crisis.
When guys like Marty Bannon, who the country's—kind of this Steady Eddie guy who the whole thing is to raise a family,
to be there for the family, to be there for his community,
he's the kind of—these are the kind of building blocks that society, civic society's built upon.
When guys like that are questioning the system and dumping their ownership in the system, the system can't go on like that.
You're now in a real crisis.
It felt to me when we were watching—we made a number of films about it, and one of the—
one of the things that happened in the cascade, because we make political films, we were thinking about—
let's talk about Sarah Palin, for example, somebody who could identify in some way what that was,
what that fear and that anger was, probably in your dad and lots of dads and moms all over the country. …
That's one of the reasons I came back.
You know, I was actually living in Shanghai at the time.
I was living in the French Concession, spending most of my time there.
I had a—I had a massive multiplayer video game company that had a big Asian presence in Hong Kong,
Kowloon, South Korea and in China…. So I was living there.
Came back because I thought there were some financial problems.
I was going to sell real estate.
But then my sister pointed me to this woman, Sarah Palin, who'd just been named—was going to be the vice president.
I actually went to the Republican convention as—
just with a filmmaking guy, the guy who produced The Passion of the Christ, Steve McEveety,
and went to the—and saw something unique in Palin and saw her go round.
People forget.
When the financial crisis, when Lehman was put into bankruptcy, which was put into bankruptcy, I think,
on the morning of Sept. 15 in London, right, and then it cascaded down,
the smartest guys in the room didn't realize that the commercial paper market, the global commercial paper market,
which is the way that every company in the world gets its working capital to kind of, you know,
make payroll and to pay for the lights going on and for the janitors and for everything that's pay—
you know, GE, the biggest companies of the world, the commercial paper market,
every day you're selling commercial paper to provide working capital.
When that froze up on the morning of the 15th, the whole system froze up.
On that date, Sarah Palin and John McCain, I think, were up one point in the Gallup Poll on Barack Obama;
that people forget, Palin came with such force out of that thing
for the first two weeks before she started to be kind of destroyed, they were on fire.
It was, in that sequence of events that week, I think talks about the corruption of our institutions,
and I think it talks about how the elites are comfortable with decline.
Remember, on that Thursday morning—Monday, it goes into bankruptcy.
By Thursday, there's a crisis that nobody knows what's going on in this commercial paper market.
The whole way that the whole entire global system is financed is now frozen up.
And that's when you have [Chair of the Federal Reserve Ben] Bernanke and [Treasury Secretary] Hank Paulson,
who are not alarmists, particularly not Bernanke, and he's an expert—
remember, he's an expert in the Great Depression.
That's his claim to fame; that's what his Ph.D. is in.
They go to the Oval Office to go see Bush, and they have a meeting, and they tell him, hey—
and we know all of this by congressional testimony later.
So these are the facts.
They go to him and say: “Hey, by 5:00 today, we need a trillion dollars of cash infusion into the system,
or the American financial system will collapse in 72 hours.
The world financial system will collapse 48 hours after that, and we will have global anarchy and chaos.”
And Bush goes: “That's interesting, but we've kind of—
the White House counsel said we've kind of checked the Constitution.
I don't really have authority to do that.
You've got to go over to Capitol Hill. It's kind of their problem.”
And so they go up to Capitol Hill.
They go to Nancy Pelosi's office in the afternoon, and they had the same meeting.
In fact, they've got to keep their—they've got to keep their Blackberries outside it's so confidential.
And they talk in there about they need this cash infusion.
That's when, you know, Hank Paulson gets on his knees to Nancy Pelosi and makes some sort of pitch to her.
… The country's in literally—what the Germans and the Japanese military and the Soviets,
what nobody could ever do to us, Osama bin Laden, nobody, we've now done to ourselves.
We have literally caused a financial crisis that will bring down the entire system in 72 hours.
The biggest revolutionaries that have gone after the United States could never dream of what we had done to ourselves.
And so that began a cascade of—and here's the thing.
Nobody, nobody's ever been held accountable for it. Nobody's ever taken responsibility for it.
And it just kind of—that's why, you know, we have never recovered. We've never recovered from that catastrophe.
Somebody's been held accountable, which is probably why we have Donald Trump sitting in the White House now.
It's conceivable to me—and you and I can talk about it—
what happens politically among the group that become the “deplorables” to Hillary Clinton,
the “forgotten” to Donald Trump— …
The bang that went off on Nov. 9 of 2016 at 2:30 in the morning was lit in the Oval Office on Sept. 18 of 2008.
It was lit right in that room.
It was lit, that fuse, that long fuse that has this populist explosion exploded.
But every financial crisis, I think, in at least modern history is always followed by some sort of populist—right?
Now sometimes that devolves into fascism and other things.
But every time there's a financial collapse—and remember, this is the biggest financial collapse in the country's history.
This is bigger than—this is bigger than the Great Depression.
This is bigger than the one in the 1870s that caused such a big problem.
This is bigger than the one that caused the Federal Reserve [sic] in the early 20th century.
This is the biggest financial collapse in American history.
And this was one that was not done just by simple Ponzi schemes.
This was done by an organized, thought-through effort of the financial and corporate elites that—
remember, the scams pulled off here are absolutely outrageous. …
And so that's why you had this immense collapse.
You had so many of the elites making so much money.
Then when it collapsed, they wanted the taxpayers—the whole thing of the trillion dollars.
… The Federal Reserve didn't call all the financial institutions together and corporations and say:
“Hey, boys, we've got a problem, right?
This is a problem, and we need to pass the hat.
You've got to cough up some cash.”
That trillion dollars was from Marty Bannon.
They hit “print,” right?
They hit “print,” hit “print,” but the guy's who's going to pay for it is the little guy.
… We live in neofeudalism. This is not capitalism.
This is where you have an underclass, right, a Lumpenproletariat almost that's taken care of by the state;
you have the very wealthy; and you have this kind of neofeudalist working class and middle class in the middle
that pays for everything, and the guys at the top who we've socialized the risk, that trillion dollars of infusion, right?
Remember, the balance sheet of the Federal Reserve on the morning of Sept. 18, 2008,
when they're in the Oval Office talking, is $880 billion.
The balance sheet of the Federal Reserve on Jan. 17, or Jan. 20 of 2017,
when Donald Trump raises his hand, is $4.5 trillion.
The most progressive president in the history of our country, President Obama, saved the wealthy,
and here's how they did it.
[Treasury Secretary Timothy] Geithner, they just turned on the taps of liquidity.
We call it—the technical term is “quantitative easing.”
The not-technical term is called bailing out the people who are guilty, OK?
Essentially, if you owned anything, you had the greatest 10-year run in history.
Wait, wait, wait. … Let's move to the TARP [Troubled Asset Relief Program] vote and whether you think—
so now all of that is happening.
You have to do TARP, the first one you have to do. You know why?
Your fiduciary—when a guy like Bernanke walks in and says,
“I need a trillion dollars,” right, you don't have time to debate.
History's going to look at you.
When he says, “The American financial system's going to collapse in 72 hours
and the world financial system two days after that, and you're going to have global anarchy,”
there's not a person on earth—I don't want to hear these libertarians and all these,
you know, free mar—“Oh, let capitalism take place.”
When they come in and ask for the first trillion in an emergency, I believe you have to say: “OK, we've got to do it.
I don't know what went on here, but if you tell me this is going to save me and at least get down the road, I'll do it.”
But remember, that's the first trillion.
We kept on for another $3.5 trillion. $3.5 trillion.
This is just bailing out the people that caused the problems.
Got to think about it for a second.
You know, Goldman Sachs didn't lose any equity.
None of the partners really missed any bonus payments.
GE's still in business, AIG.
It all still exists, all the donors, OK?
The reverse side of this, remember, there is a corollary to this that's quite powerful.
And we know from the notes of the Federal Reserve, a guy named Richard Fisher, the governor—
the president of the Federal Reserve of Dallas, argued this in the room constantly.
He said by doing this quantitative easing, which you're just flooding the zone with liquidity,
we will save the institutions, and we will save anybody that's a big real estate holder or hedge fund or bank.
But he said, there's a huge reverse here.
Number one, savings accounts are going to go to zero-interest rates.
Savings accounts are going to go to zero.
So 5,000 years of the Western tradition—back to the Marty Bannons—
which is be a good householder, get a wife, get a mortgage, get some kids, and you save your money.
Well, now, if you save money, you're a sucker, because it's broken the trust.
That's the trust that's broken.
If you save money, you're a jerk because you're not going to get any interest paid. In fact, the bank's going to charge you.
So there's been no—you can't—you can't put money away to save into the system.
Number two, the pension funds.
The pensions funds are going to be destroyed.
Today we have a $9.5 trillion gap between the obligations of the pension funds and what we've earned off the pension funds.
Why? Because it went to zero-interest rates, and the bonds they can buy have no juice in them. right?
The other thing is public schools and all this.
Even communities that are not leveraged can't issue bonds because there's no juice in the bonds,
because of negative interest rates, 1.5%.
We've essentially put the burden of the bailout on the working class and middle class.
That's why nobody owns anything.
But the millennials today are nothing but 19th-century Russian serfs.
They're better fed; they're better clothed; they're in better shape;
they have more information than anybody in the world at any point in time, but they don't own anything.
They're not going to own anything, OK?
And they're 20%—if you mark in time against their parents,
they're 20% behind in their income, and there's no pension plan in the future.
They're all gig economy.
We've literally destroyed the middle class in this country.
And both political parties, by the way, this is not about Republicans and Democrats.
This is the way the system works,
and this is the way the system comes together to protect itself and to move itself forward, OK?
Because nobody understands even the rudimentaries of finance, right?
And they keep the public kind of economically illiterate, right?
This allows to go on. And now we're in that crisis, that crisis, what Trump understood—
Wait, don't go to Trump yet.
So we've created this world of unhappy people.
The middle class is shrinking and destroyed in lots of ways.
We're going to catch back up with it in a minute.
But now let's go to you, Breitbart, coming here, coming out of—out of Los Angeles,
coming to Washington with what kind of a plan, what kind of an idea?
What was Breitbart in Los Angeles, and what does Breitbart become in Washington?
Andrew was, had been Matt Drudge editor.
He'd been one of the launch editors for Arianna Huffington and the Huffington Post.
He always had a vision of what a news site could be.
At the time, he was a blog, right?
People kind of posted stuff; there were citizen journalists.
Andrew had this big vision of what a real news site could be.
We were the blog kind of for the Tea Party.
This Tea Party energy, you know, right after the financial collapse, in the spring of the next year,
in fact, Rick Santelli had this rant, this very famous rant, that took place when the first TARP thing was being talked about.
And he was basically saying, “Hey, all the working-class people are paying for this, right?”
That rant initiated these group of kind of disparate people to have a meeting
and basically have people come out on April 15, on Tax Day, April 15 at 2009.
That was the beginning of the Tea Party.
And Andrew saw very quickly, as I saw, that there was this real populist power in this;
that this was something totally different.
This wasn't—this was not standard Republican Party. This was a whole new deal.
And so we started covering that, and Breitbart kind of became the blog site for that.
Andrew wanted to do a news site.
We were able to raise some money.
And in 2011, we closed on the money,
and we decided that the center of gravity of our political coverage had to be in Washington, D.C.
And we leased this house right in back of the Supreme Court, and we called it the “Breitbart Embassy.”
And the reason was, we were an embassy in a foreign capital, right, because everybody told us—
I mean, we were lectured by guys saying: “You're not going to have any access.
You're going to have to play the game to get access.”
And we kind of said: “Hey, we're just going to kick down doors.
How about this? We're going to be totally different.”
And so we called this place the Embassy for the simple reason that, you know,
we thought we were in an embassy in a foreign capital; that this was owned and run by the permanent political class.
And so a handful of people, like Peter Schweizer and others, Matt Boyle and Andrew, we started this news site.
Now, unfortunately, Andrew died, tragically, you know, four days before the site was to be launched.
He was working 20 hours a day to build the site, to perfect it.
He had these—he was quite a visionary when it came to new media and how people accessed information.
And so the whole site you see today was really his creation.
He created every component piece of it, including how news … flowed through the system, how we promoted things, etc.
And so that was this kind of rowdy—and remember, one thing, decision we made very fundamentally—
and I kind of was, I think, a big influence on Andrew on this—I said,
“Look, attacking [Rep.] Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama, we're so far removed from having any influence over that,”
because at this time we were a very small site.
I said: “We're the populist, you know, kind of economic nationalist part of this.
Let's attack the real enemy.
And the real enemy's the Republican establishment.
What we're going to do is just go after the House leadership.
We're going to go after the [Sen.] Mitch McConnells; we're going to go after the donors.
We're just going to go hard at kind of this kind of [Rep.] Paul Ryan philosophy.
Why did you think [Speaker of the House John] Boehner and [House Majority Leader Eric] Cantor were vulnerable?
Because they were vulnerable, because of the huge disconnect.
Remember, the one thing the Democrats, they have lined up—
they have actually, at least till here recently, donors and their base kind of line up.
The Republican Party's totally dysfunctional.
It's essentially a working-class party.
The votes all come from working-class or lower-middle-class people predominantly, right?
And it doesn't represent their interests.
There's a book written by a guy called What's the Matter with Kansas?, where he kind of walks through how the—
the donor class, the Singers and the Kochs, these kind of libertarians, have this entirely different concept,
this kind of Austrian school of economics concept, that the political apparatchiks—
remember, the consultant class, the political class around it and the donors all line up perfectly.
Unfortunately, you've got a working-class party that—for instance, trade.
You know, mass illegal immigration, which the chamber of commerce pushes all the time,
and more legal immigration and trade are just two sides of the same coin, right?
The two sides of the same coin, it's suppression of workers' wages, OK?
Mass illegal immigration is to flood the zone against predominantly black and Hispanic working class
so that you've got unlimited, you know, unlimited labor pool, and you can keep wages down for higher margins.
Immigration and the H-1B visas are the same thing in the tech area, that you don't have to hire American citizens;
I can do it with these visas to increase margins.
Trade is the same thing.
Trade is just you're competing against foreign labor and foreign countries unfairly.
And so all of it is to suppress workers' wages and to have higher margins;
therefore, higher stock prices; therefore, more wealth, of which the workers don't own any piece of.
And so our thesis was not just the cultural stuff but the economic stuff.
You have an ability to re-form this Republican Party and make it a true populist entity.
But they weren't going to let that happen. They were going to resist that in almost—
They did, and we took them down. We took down Cantor.
Remember, we took down Cantor with Dave Brat.
The first time in the history of the republic that a sitting majority leader had ever been beaten.
Remember, he was beaten in a primary that—
Cantor was up here in D.C. on the day of the primary and schlepped down there the last night.
Fox News, when they came on last [sic] night, didn't even know Dave Brat's name.
This was an unknown.
And we had worked it with Laura Ingraham.
I mean, we had been—Breitbart had been all over this.
We had Dave Brat on our radio show, I think, every week for the 10 weeks' run-up to the election.
We saw real vulnerability.
Did you know it was coming?
You definitely knew it was coming.
That was—also happened to be my home district, but I could feel it.
I knew that that a guy like Brat—they were very weak; they were very weak.
They didn't have a grasp, and this Tea Party revolt was picking up.
You had the—you had the—you had the huge Tea Party revolt in 2010, which we won 62 seats.
The Republican Party didn't see that coming.
That was all grassroots-oriented, which played out over time.
Remember, today, the 2000—really, Obama's '08 and particularly the primaries in 2010
I think changed American politics pretty fundamentally, because the concept got to be mobilization versus persuasion.
I don't believe we live in an era of persuasion anymore.
People are so saturated with this all day long, they kind of know where they come out.
You've just got to motivate them to get out there and vote.
You've go to motivate them to go door to door.
So the '08 Obama primary that completely caught Clinton by surprise was all about mobilization.
The 2010 Tea Party, particularly the House part of it, that was absolutely, you know, the biggest in the history,
I think, since the Great Depression, 1932, was about mobilization.
That's why Romney didn't want to have anything to do with it in '12, right?
He washed his hands of it.
And that's why in this very room in January of 2013, they had this huge—
this huge controversy between—the Republican Party did the “autopsy.”
They said, “Oh, the reason that—the reason that Romney lost was because we didn't reach out to the Hispanic community;
we didn't talk about DACA [Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals];
we didn't talk about, you know, open borders, immigration policy.”
And a young guy named Stephen Miller, who's on the staff,
he'd been with [Rep.] Michele Bachmann for the Tea Party revolt, we were very close to.
Stephen Miller and [Sen.] Jeff Sessions and myself had a dinner in this very room
basically the same week that Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes
had this dinner with [Sen. Chuck] Schumer and [Sen. Marco] Rubio in New York to talk about the Gang of Eight bill.
And we just came down and looked at this.
There was a lawyer at Hunton & Williams in Richmond, that wrote a three-part piece,
I believe it was, for RealClearPolitics.
His name is Sean Trende.
He looked at the same analysis coming out of 2012,
which remember, all the donors thought Romney was going to win in a landslide.
He looked at the same thing and said, “The inability of the Republican Party to connect with working-class voters
is the single biggest reason that they're not winning.”
And that's where Sessions and I talked about, we're going to take trade from number 100, right?
It's not an issue.
The whole Republican Party's got this fetish on free trade—they're like automatons,
“Oh, free trade, free trade, free trade”—which is a radical idea,
particularly when you're against a mercantilist opponent like China.
So we're make trade from number 100 to number two, and we're going to take immigration number three to number one.
The one and two issues will be immigration and trade.
And that will be focused on workers, right?
And we're going to remake the Republican Party. In fact, I'd—
Wait a minute. That's like the anti-autopsy result.
180%. Autopsy—and I told Reince [Priebus] later, to his face, it was a total joke and another donor-driven lie, OK?
No statistics in the victory in 2016 showed that.
And by the way, all the guys in the verticals, the Jeb Bushes and the Marco Rubios and all these other guys, Chris Christie,
all the geniuses and their staffs all bought into the autopsy, remember.
They thought we were crazy.
You know, we had Palin in '08 and hoped that she'd run in '12, and she just—she—it just didn't work out.
I actually worked with Lou Dobbs and tried to get Lou Dobbs to run in '12 as a populist,
because it was Lou Dobbs' economic ideas on his TV show all the time, particularly China and immigration and trade,
and Lou Dobbs, for a host of reasons, didn't do it.
And here I actually tried to talk Sessions into doing it.
I told Sessions, just like I told Palin: “You're not going to be president of the United States.
But remember, if we win the primary—and you will win the primary—you control the Republican apparatus;
you take over the RNC [Republican National Committee] for the whole next cycle.
You can turn the RNC; you can turn the Republican Party into a worker-based party.
The goal is to get control of the party.
You're not going to win the presidency against this. That will take time.”
And Sessions goes—I remember, he said—it was about five hours.
We walked down to his front steps, and he said—he turns to me and goes, “It's not me; I'm not going to do it,” he says.
“But our guy will come along. We'll find our guy.”
And that guy a couple years later turned out to be Donald Trump.
So you go hunting for a guy?
And you're banging them hard.
You're banging Boehner and everybody else hard on the front page of Breitbart.
So help me with the understanding of the growth of Breitbart through those two years while you're—
I think when Andrew—I think when Andrew passed away, the night we opened the site, I think if you go back and check,
I think we were at 10 million—I think we were at 10 million uniques—excuse me, we were 10 million page views a month.
I think we were a million and a half uniques.
I think the total time on site, total time was 90 seconds, and 70% of our traffic was coming from Drudge, OK?
At the height of the game. I think later in August, when I left in August of 2016, I think we were,
you know, 300 million page views a month, 40 million uniques, people staying on site five minutes.
It was a whole different deal.
Combination of—combination of we were—number one, we were—Andrew's site, it was news, not opinion.
We didn't put any—our opinion was in the news.
Well, look, it's like the editorial page of The New York Times is on the front page.
If The New York Times didn't publish, CNN would be a test pattern every day, OK?
That's the—look, it's all partisan.
It all comes from what I call an angle of attack.
We're partisans, you know?
And we put—and we put it right into our news.
And people read it and know it.
The facts are the facts.
You can dispute the facts, but the angle of attack is right in there.
So it was going to be hard-hitting, populist, nationalist.
We were going to have—we're going to have heroes and enemies.
Who's reading it? Who's reading that then?
… We caught on with this kind of working-class, middle-class audience.
We made the stuff very intelligent.
We had these radio shows that were listener-based.
We just—we got people engaged.
The comments section, which is not for the uninitiated, I took off almost virtually all controls on the thing.
We had monitors to stop the really bad guys, but I got lit up more.
The reason that all the conservative media had gotten away from comments
is that most of the comments are attacking the writers and the editors.
And, you know, we took it off and said, hey, we'll build a community here.
And it was the comments section that started to build some of the power of Breitbart, coupled with we were just smarter.
We had amazing search-engine optimization.
It was a merger of technology and content. Search-engine optimization.
And particularly I had an entire team that did nothing but deconstruct the algorithms of Facebook.
Without Facebook, Breitbart could have never gotten to the size it got. …
You saw the Harvard study where we were the most powerful news organization in 2016.
That was all by design.
We'd literally focused on being able to deliver a punch, OK?
And we did it, just like the guys at Harvard said.
We did it by understanding Facebook, understanding search-engine optimization, maximizing the technology part of it,
and also comments to build community, have people have ownership in this, right?
Well, and also understanding that there was a division in America, and half the division didn't have a voice.
This whole thing on division, too, this is—it's the taproot of democracy.
What you want is engagement, OK?
The left was doing it with Talking Points Memo and everything.
You want engagement.
We just had in '18 a midterm election, 113 million people voted.
Democracy in America has never been more robust.
And one of the reasons it's robust is you've got these sites like Breitbart,
and on the left you've got Talking Points Memo and the Huffington Post, that have people engaged;
they have people buying in; they have people passionate about this, OK?
Now it's permeated not just political culture, because of Trump and now people like AOC [Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez], etc.;
it's permeated popular culture.
We now have the most engaged political—the country is all about politics.
Every dinner party you go to, every conversation you have, Saturday Night Live, all the late-night comics.
If you look back at Johnny Carson's era and you look back at the Tonight Show and all this,
he'd have maybe a few jokes about Reagan and stuff at the beginning,
but now the heart of the nightly setup of [Jimmy] Kimmel and all the Tonight Show and all that, is politics.
And why is that?
You now have people that are engaged. They've bought in. And it's aspirational.
It's part of their—it's part of their lifestyle.
It's like you wear a certain brand of shirt, you have a certain brand of politics.
And this is what I mean by mobilization.
We're not in an era of persuasion anymore.
Everybody—there's so many—since the social media had disintermediated the traditional media aspects—
and that's one of the things Andrew understood—is that now it's part of your life.
It's an aspirational lifestyle brand that you're either a progressive Democrat, a reactionary Republican,
a Trump guy wearing a red hat, or somebody that believes in AOC and thinks Trump's a devil.
That's all fine. You've bought into that, and that's where you go.
So people say it's divided.
Yes, the country's been divided before, and people have got to come at this and make their own decision.
But it's very divided.
And the media has definitely added to that by reinforcing and also presenting to people the news in a certain way.
Fantastic, so thank you.That section's done.
Next section, Trump, the campaign, all of that.
Does he find you, or do you find him?
Are you two guys looking for each other?
What is it? What happens between the two of you? How do you first meet?
… He comes—you know, in 2010, I'm making these films for Dave Bossie at Citizens United.
I'd just made Generation Zero, which was about the financial collapse.
And that's where I kind of made my chops in the conservative media area.
We were on Fox.
That film was about this new generation that's not going to own anything, right?
So I made that film in 2009.
So I'm making films. I'm making three films for the 2010 midterm all about—and I'm editing for Bossie.
And Bossie calls me up and says, “What are you doing tomorrow?”
And I said: “What do you mean, what am I doing?
I'm at your studio editing these three films that we've got to get out in four weeks.”
He says: “Well, can you go to New York?”
I go, “No, I can't.”
He says: “Well, you've got to go with me. I'm going to go see Donald Trump.”
And I go: “Look, I don't need to see Donald Trump.
I don't know Donald Trump. I don't care to know Donald Trump.”
He goes, “Well, you've got to come with me because he's thinking of running for president.”
And I said, “Of what country?”
And so I get on the train, and we're talking. We go up there on Amtrak.
And I said, now, I'm there for one reason. I'm the Tea Party populist guy.
I'm supposed to explain to him—because Dave's a traditional limited-government conservative.
He loves the Tea Party, but … he doesn't quite get what this whole thing's about.
So he's going to walk through the whole thing of a primary and all the technical stuff; I'm going to add the juice.
So we go there, and it's amazing.
We sit in the same conference room that six years later the Billy Bush weekend and all this stuff
is going to play out, the exact same spot.
In fact, Trump and I sit kind of in the same location where the final decision
on not doing the TV shows about Billy Bush weekend, which is really what saved his candidacy.
What's your first read of the guy? What's his aspect? What'd you think?
Well, I was not looking— I had no interest sitting in the meeting because I'd never watched the show.
I just remember him as a guy that was bankrupt all the time and a guy Goldman Sachs would never finance.
So he's not in my radar scope. Just a promoter.
I get in there, and I was actually—I was, number one, blown away by his presence.
People like Palin and Obama and these people,
there's something about their charisma and something about their ability to own a room.
Trump walks in, and he owns the room.
There's a presence about the guy that I was not—because I didn't take him very seriously.
We sit down. It's a two-hour meeting.
He doesn't know a lot, because he's not supposed to know.
It's not that he's not—it's about politics and very specific.
And he doesn't know any policy, which he shouldn't; he's a real estate guy and a TV guy.
He doesn't know any policy.
Dave's walking through this.
But what struck me, we turned to—I talked about populism, and I say—I go—I give him the history of populism,
Andrew Jackson, William Jennings Bryan, bring him up to date with Ross Perot and everything like that.
And he turns to me, he goes, “That's what I am.”
I go, “What?”
And he goes, “A popularist.”
I go, “No, no, no, it's populist.”
And he goes, “Yes, yeah, I got it: popularist.”
And I go, “No, no. It's populist.”
And after I said it the second time, Bossie gives me the kick under the table.
He says “popularist,” I let it go.
And then he turns on—he turns on about China, and we get into this conversation about China.
And we talk about trade.
We talk about non-trade barriers, talk about the South China Sea; we talk about currency manipulation.
Of a two-hour meeting, the China thing is 20 or 30 minutes long.
It's the one thing he knows.
And I realize he's regurgitating my guy Lou Dobbs, but I'm telling you,
it's the one thing he's engaged, and he's got well-formed opinions.
So we leave the meeting.
Bossie says—on the train on the way back, Bossie says, “What'd you think?”
And I'm sitting there going: “You know, I've been thinking about it.
His thing on popularist, I was wrong, and he was right.”
And he goes, “What do you mean?”
He says, “You wouldn't let off on that; that's why I kicked you.”
And I said: “Yeah, I was trying to give him the standard thing.
He thinks of things differently.
He is a popularist; he's not a populist.
He thinks about things from himself.”
And I said: “That's pretty amazing.
He was actually right, and I was wrong.”
And Bossie goes, “Yeah, I could tell that.”
And then he says: “What else?
What about this China thing? You guys were on China forever.”
I go: “Dave, here's the amazing thing.
I can't, in Washington, D.C., outside maybe some noodge at a think tank,
have the conversation I just had with this guy on China.
Nobody will talk about non-trade barriers; nobody will talk about currency manipulation.
They couldn't pick the South China Sea.
He talks about the South China Sea.”
I said, “It's amazing to me he actually has what I think is one of the biggest threats,
if not the biggest threat we've got coming, he understands China better than anybody in this city,
and that is going to be”—and he says, “What do you think about—?”
I said, “No chance this guy'll run. Not—it will never happen. He'll never run for president.”
So you sort of park him.
I just kind of dismiss it.
And later—you know, Bossie gave him two things to do.
I said, “You've got to have two asks for this guy leaving.”
And Bossie did.
He said: “Number one, you've got to give, in the maximum, of the $2,500,
you've got to give to every congressman and every senator who's running
and make them come to Trump Tower, look you in the eye, shake your hand.
It's not a marker, but you're getting into system.”
I think that came to $500,000 or something.
“The second is, you've got to write a policy book.”
And so I would tease Dave.
Dave says, “What do you think?”
I said, “There's no chance he writes any checks, zero.”
And I said, “Number two, he'll never write a policy book, forget it.”
Why—why did you know that about him?
I just—I know guys like Trump. I just see Trump.
He's not—you're writing him a check; he's not writing you a check. It's not going to happen, right?
Unless he's got some sort of problem in a city about a casino, you're not getting a check, OK?
Not for some congressman from Kansas.
His mind doesn't think like that.
So I would keep teasing Bossie.
And eventually, I said: “How's that 500,000?
How many of those meetings have you had?
How many hands are you shaking at Trump Tower, right?”
And eventually Dave calls me up: “He wrote a $250,000 check, I think, to Karl Rove's general fund,
like three weeks to go, and bitched and moaned about it the whole time.”
Now, here's the interesting thing.
The guy who's the managing editor for me, Wynton Hall, is one of the great ghostwriters out there.
Once a year, we give him permission to ghostwrite a book.
And Wynton calls me up at like the end of this year and says,
“Hey, I need time, and this one's going to take a little longer.”
I go, “Fine.”
I say, ”How long you need?”
He says, “It's going to take—it could take up to, you know, four months or five months.”
I said, “This crap you type out for these conservatives takes 30 days.”
I said, “Who takes four months?”
He says, “I've got a guy who's got the biggest advance in the history of Regnery.”
And I go: “Regnery?
Advance? They don't give advances.
I mean, it's not their business model.
What is this?”
He goes, “It's Trump.”
I go, “Are you kidding me?”
He says, “Yes, to write a—it's to write a policy book.”
I go, “You're kidding me.”
And that book, I think the subtitle was Make America Great Again.
That book, if you read it and look at the 2016—this book came out, I believe, in 2011.
And it was—it's an amazing book.
Wynton Hall is a fantastic writer.
He said Trump was so engaged in this book.
This book has many of the foundational issues that Trump ran on later.
So it's quite amazing.
But Trump, you know, there was some element of him that always looked at Obama and thought he could take Obama on.
But I think he was smart enough to realize he would have gotten crushed going after Obama.
He was smart enough to kind of wave off on it.
But the seeds of his interest was enough to start taking meetings, to start—
and Dave gave him a very detailed presentation on “Don't worry about the general election.
You worry about the election that's in front of you.
Worry about winning the Republican nomination.”
Dave had a quite detailed map of that.
So you could tell it was serious.
And then later on, what happened is Dave Bossie starts putting on these cattle calls very early on in the system.
So Trump showed up at CPAC [Conservative Political Action Conference].
He gave a great speech.
And then the first one I remember I think was in late 2013 or early 2014; it was in New Hampshire.
And I go up, and they had a cattle call.
It was Rand Paul; it was Newt Gingrich; it was Ted Cruz.
You had all the kind of conservatives around with the media all over Cruz and all over Rand Paul; they were the hot thing.
And I think [Scott] Walker was there, too, I think.
And Trump spoke. And what I would do when these guys would speak,
I would sit off to the side and just watch the audience.
And Trump gave a totally nontraditional, nontraditional Republican speech.
He talked about trade. He talked about immigration.
He talked about—and not in politicalspeak.
Every other guy came up there, I don't care if it's Rand Paul or Mike Lee or Newt Gingrich or Ted Cruz,
all of them, they all speak in a political vernacular.
Now, these were grassroots leaders, Tea Party, the people you have to convince in New Hampshire to work for you.
Trump comes up, totally off script, just stream of consciousness.
I think he had a speech. Never even looked at it. Stream of consciousness.
These people are leaning forward.
People are clapping. He's getting standing ovations.
And I'm sitting there going, “This is amazing.”
So we were doing our radio show, and Trump was going to come and do an interview with us.
We got Sam Nunberg to give us an interview.
So I'm sitting there going, “This guy is on fire.” Right?
And you could tell in the room he was kind of owning the room.
And Jeremy Peters—that's my buddy from The New York Times—we interviewed Jeremy.
Jeremy's beat—he had covered Andrew for years—
Jeremy's beat at the Times was to cover the crazy grassroots of the Republican Party, right?
So we interviewed him.
And I'm sitting there with Jeremy.
I go: “Hey, Jeremy, I've got Trump coming up next.
If you're good, I'll get you five minutes with Trump so you can interview him.”
Jeremy looks at me and goes, “Steve, if my editor found out that I even talked to Donald Trump, I'd be fired.”
And I go, “Why?”
And he says: “He's not a candidate. This is—this is just show.”
Publicity stunt.
“This is a publicity stunt; this is a marketing stunt.”
And so—and by the way, CNBC, MSNBC, they're all up there.
The only interview he had all day was Breitbart Radio and then Breitbart News.
Nobody would even consider it.
And he owned the room.
And then I started noticing, as he would go to these things, he was owning these rooms.
I mean, you could tell in these grassroots things that Bossie kept putting on.
… My sense was, and you go back and look at it, you guys hadn't really decided yet.
There was Cruz; there was this; there was that; it's going to be somebody else.
And Trump was never getting the oxygen.
We would give him fair coverage, right?
But we had—remember, because look, it's a—it's like this whole thing with the “alt-right,” right?
To build a massive news site, it's like sedimentary rock—you need different layers of it.
So we would have the Christian conservatives; we would have the libertarians, the Rand Paul guys;
we would have the limited-government conservatives, the Ted Cruz guys;
we would have the gay Republican, Lincoln club guys.
The “alt-right” started as, before it got taken over by these kind of white nationalists,
when we originally got involved with it, these were the guys that said:
“Hey, all this conservatism is all—there's no fight in it.
We want an alternative that actually fights, right? It was kind of these memes….
So my point is, there's probably 20 groups. Of that, we tried to cover everybody.
Honestly, if you go back and look at the coverage, probably Ted Cruz is the guy that—
in fact, Ted Cruz deems to give Breitbart, when he goes to Liberty and announces his candidacy
at Liberty University in that massive rally with 15,000 students, only Breitbart is backstage.
He invites us to the family quarters. We do his wife, interview his wife.
We then have all this private time with Ted Cruz, because we're like the Cruz site, because part of our—
part of the sedimentary rock is limited-government, Heritage organization conservatism, right?
This whole populist nationalist part of it is a significant part, but it's not the overwhelming thing.
We're getting more and more populist every day.
Trump comes up, and really the key moment is coming down the escalator.
When Trump—at the top of the escalator, if you go back and look at the polling, I think Trump was in seventh place, right?
At the bottom of the escalator, in the speech, and particularly when the media bites—and I'm sitting there watching.
We have five people up at Trump Tower.
We have Boyle leading an entire team.
We've got wall-to-wall coverage. …
And in the speech, when he starts going on to not just the immigration part and trade, which nobody's ever talked about,
but when he starts doing the over-the-top stuff, and I go—I said: “You watch.
They're going to bite hard. And they're going to bite hard and blow this up.”
I'm sitting there watching this thing on TV.
When he starts talking about the Mexican rapists and everything like that, I go, “Oh, my God.”
I said, “This is—” I said: “He's just buried—they're going to go nuts.
CNN is literally going to broadcast 24 hours a day.”
By that—he goes to Iowa, I think, that night.
It's all they talk about.
He goes from number seven.
He's at one and never looks back.
The next-day polling, Trump's gone to one.
In fact, I think it's the next day or the day after,
Don Lemon has him on for the most classic Trump interview in human history.
Lemon's sitting there hammering him—
“You've got to show us some facts. You've got to show us some facts.”
And Trump goes—it's a TV—it's a phone interview.
Trump goes: “Don! Don! Somebody's doing the raping,” right?
But it was the mainstream media that catapulted Trump from—because remember, when people—
at the top of the escalator, nobody still thought, even though he had filed his financial report, right,
which in hindsight, you know, is the financial report, but nobody thought—
they thought it was a marketing ploy to get a better deal at The Apprentice, etc.
The mainstream media catapulted him to the number one.
And then it was within 30 days we had the Fox News, the 1st, on Aug. 1, I think it was, was the—
was the debate when Fox News, when [Rupert] Murdoch and [Roger] Ailes, particularly Murdoch, and Ailes,
being part of the Bush apparatus, decided they were going to kneecap Donald Trump right out of the box.
And that's what Megyn Kelly—they went through his Twitter feed; they went through all The Apprentice tapes;
they went through everything and came out and did a hit like the left would do on somebody.
And that's when all war broke out.
That's when Breitbart—that's when you had to choose sides.
Who's in the war?
The war was Fox and all the conservative media—National Review, Weekly Standard.
The Republican—basically, it's a racket.
It's a racket, because the people are over here.
The voters are focused on illegal immigration, trade deals, jobs, you know, why income inequality, where's my pay raise,
basic nuts-and-bolts stuff that people—the sovereignty of the country.
The National Review, Weekly Standard, neoliberal neocons are kind of at the beck and call of the donors.
It's a total disconnect on foreign policy.
And remember, one of the powers of Trump and the basic thing is that America's in decline,
and the elites are OK with that. This is about managed decline.
So whether it's health care, the southern border, NATO, China, Iran—pick it, right?—the education system,
we're in managed decline, and the elites are fine with that.
And what's looked at as the Republican elites are OK [with that],
because they're kind of the junior partner and the punching bag of Obama and these progressive Democrats,
and they don't do anything.
They kind of agree with them at the end of the day.
Remember, after 2014, the reason Obama becomes kind of a hero to the Breitbart staff—
we call him “honorary honey badger”—because we're humping this thing in '14, Ebola, the border,
and all of a sudden, he gets smoked in the midterm elections, OK?
What does he do? He calls a press conference for the next day. Press conference, everybody shows up—
This is the shellacking?
Yeah, he gets shellacked.
He loses the Senate. He shows back up. He gets smoked.
He calls a press conference, and all CNN and everybody, New York Times,
is he going to listen to what the people are saying?
Is the country going in a different direction?
Is Obama going to listen?
He gets up there and goes: “OK, guys, here's how it is.
I'm president of the United States, and you're not.”
He goes—he has 10 executive orders.
“I'm going to sign immediately.
And by the way, you know that DACA thing?
I've got a DAPA [Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents].
I'm adding the parents on to it.
How do you like that?”
I'm sitting there going, “This guy's my role model.”
I said he just got smoked, and he comes out and hits you right in the mouth.
This is a leader!
Remember, [Speaker of the House John] Boehner collapses.
We get the omnibus.
Everything we fought for we just won! We just won!
And Boehner does this omnibus bill, gives him Planned Parenthood, gives him DACA, everything he's wanted and more.
That's when we realized the Republican apparatus is the Washington Generals to their Harlem Globetrotters, right?
You're just set to lose.
And so—but that is this thing that builds up.
And so when you get to the Fox situation, Fox has chosen a side.
It's so evident in that—in that debate that they're there to kneecap Donald Trump, OK?
They're there to take him out.
And that's when we go, OK.
So we run 20 stories on Megyn Kelly.
I get Tony Lee and Matt Boyle, my two hammers.
They go right after Megyn Kelly.
We're going to Alinsky her, right?
We're going to cut her out from the—cull her out from the herd and just hit her nonstop.
And after about 48 hours, I get a call from Ailes, who was kind of a mentor.
But remember, in building Breitbart, I never allowed anybody at Breitbart to go on Fox, ever.
I went on a couple of times about films—
Because National Review, Rich Lowry, Tucker Carlson at the time, Daily Caller,
none of those guys existed unless they were on Fox.
They're all on Fox; their guys are on Fox. They're a subsidiary of Fox.
When—when Ailes calls them up, they've got to line up in a certain way, and this was the payoff.
He calls up; they've all got to line up in back of Megyn Kelly.
We're independent.
We don't need Ailes. I don't need Ailes financially. He's not going to do anything for me, right?
So we never any—I was never on Fox.
None of our reporters were ever on Fox.
If you want to come here and get some story and get a Drudge link and go on Fox,
you're in the wrong line of work, because it's not going to happen.
We're Breitbart, and we've got our own point of view; we're going to do it our own way.
And this is where it came down to.
All of the rest of them line up with those—with anti-Trump.
And Ailes calls me up and says: “You've got to knock off these stories.
She's crying. She's all upset. She's getting death threats.”
I go, “It sounds like a personal problem.”
I said: “We're not backing off.
We're going to put more stories up tomorrow.”
And he goes: “You've got to calm—what do you guys, you guys”—says: “No, you're not going to pull what the left pulls.
This is the typical drive-by.
You're going to go into a guy's Twitter feed?
You're going to go into 14 years of a show, and this is what you're going to come up with, is Rosie O'Donnell?
It doesn't roll like that, OK?
We're all in now, OK?
And if you don't like it, that's your problem, because I don't owe you anything.
You have no bearing whatsoever on how we do.”
What were the stakes for you, Steve, at that moment?
Well, the stakes were the country, the country's.
To me, it's about the country.
You finally have somebody in Trump that is now giving voice
to kind of this voiceless working class and lower middle class that's had no representation.
They've been voting for Republicans that work exactly against their economic interest.
Look at these trade deals.
They have all this theory of free markets.
These free markets against a mercantilist power is destroying the manufacturing base of the country, right?
You have these guys who were chamber of commerce that—look, the state of Texas is controlled by Republicans.
You have Republican—why can't you shut down—why can't you shut down the border?
The reason is they want the labor.
The Republican Party donors want the cheap labor.
That's the point.
So you finally have a guy that's speaking in a nonpolitical vernacular,
and you can tell he's connecting with people already in the rallies.
I said, this is our guy.
He's a very imperfect instrument, but he's an armor-piercing shell, OK?
And here's the other thing: They're scared to death, right?
They don't know how to handle this guy.
And remember, he's against—this Republican primary, there's 16.
This is the flower of a generation of a billion dollars put in by the Kochs, put in by the Singers,
put in by the donors, the Heritage, AEI [American Enterprise Institute], every vertical.
You've got [Jeb] Bush; you've got—for the libertarians you've got Rand Paul.
For the neocons you've got Marco Rubio.
For the big-government conservatives you've got Chris Christie. You've got Ben Carson.
You look across the board; these 16 in every vertical, it's the best we've ever had.
It's a hell of a field.
And you've got Trump.
And Trump is going to—I tell the guys, he's going to go through this thing like a scythe through grass, right?
Because he's talking about what the voters care about.
These other guys are kind of, you know, mumbo-jumbo on all this stuff that you can't win national elections anymore,
the kind of the Heritage organization talking points, the Paul Ryan, you know, limited government.
It's fine in concept.
You can't win—you can't win places like Wisconsin and Michigan
and the big heartland states in this country to win national elections.
You showed that with [Mitt] Romney. Romney and Paul Ryan.
Paul Ryan would get smoked by nine points in Wisconsin, OK?
Here's a guy that can actually get Reagan Democrats, can actually get low-propensity voters.
You could see it line up at the time.
So we went to—Fox and ourselves went to war.
… And I have tremendous respect for Roger Ailes.
He just sees the world differently.
They think Trump's a disaster and is going to blow up the whole thing.
And remember, Roger worked for the Bushes.
This is a totally Bush mindset, OK?
The Bush neoliberal, global economics, neocon foreign policy,
which is the elites that are leading us into decline, Trump is a total rejection of that.
And they're not into the rejection business; they're not into disruption.
And Trump is a huge disrupter.
He sends his lawyer down here the next day, who I know pretty well, his personal lawyer.
He come[s] down, and kind of like in the Godfather, give me some bad news.
“You guys have got to stop; this is going to start getting ugly.”
And I said, “We're not stopping.” I said: “We're all in.
We're a populist nationalist site, OK?
And this guy is the populist nationalist candidate.
We're going to do the news. We'll do it straight.
And we're going after Megyn Kelly, OK? Because she's bad news.”
I told Ailes in the second phone call, I said: “Look, you've created a monster.
Don't think that monster's not going to turn on you one day.”
I said: “She's out of control, right?
And we're going to take her on.”
And so we kept pounding every day of anti-Megyn Kelly articles.
And of course, if you looked at the comments section, these things were getting 10,000 and 15,000, 20,000 comments.
The whole Trump, all the Pepes, all these Trump guys were pounding in here.
And it caused a problem.
But it started to — Fox, I think, started to get the joke, that this guy's eventually going to be a real guy.
And so throughout the fall and winter, it was this intense kind of battle.
But we were—we had his back the entire way.
So let's talk about… the Access Hollywood moment,
back in that conference room, sitting there, tell me what you said to Trump.
Tell me what you thought when you heard it. Take me in there.
So we finally had Trump very engaged—let's say this:
When I got there, in August, debate prep was not exactly top of his list.
Trump as a student would be your roommate—he's what I call a game-day player.
He's not a guy that's going to every lecture, getting the books, the textbooks and reading the notes, OK?
He comes in the night before with a pot of coffee, learns what he's got to learn, goes in, gets whatever grade he gets, right?
I know that guy.
… So we finally—Trump is very engaged, because this is the second debate,
and it's the one that's going to be in the round.
This is one he's not going to be anchored to a podium.
He can get out and kind of, you can see the chemistry and stuff like that. So this is the one.
And he's actually—we're actually doing real prep.
And that day we're up in the 26th-floor conference room, and it's Friday afternoon, about 2:00.
And I'm sitting there going, you know, this is—we're closing.
We're still losing, but we've closed—we were like 12 points down, or 10, or 16.
Whatever thing you take in mid-August, we were way down.
We've been closing it ever since.
So we're getting now—we're competitive.
And all of a sudden, Hope Hicks shows up outside the glass thing, and she's giving me the signal. And so I step out.
I go out, and I read this thing.
She's got this transcript, and she's like about to cry.
She goes, “Oh, this is terrible.”
I go, “What is this?”
She goes, “Oh, they've got some videotape, audio.”
I look at it and I read it.
The first time I read it through, it doesn't look that bad to me.
And I go, I said: “What are you so upset about? What is this?”
“The Washington Post is going to publish a story in an hour.”
And I go, “What's so bad about it?”
And she goes: “Well, look it. He says, 'I'm going to grab them by the p---y.'”
And I go, “Oh, maybe I haven't focused.” So I look down, I go, “Oh, OK, OK.”
So I called Don McGahn, who's our legal guy.
And so Don McGahn's going to call The Washington Post legal department.
I'm going to call, like, the editor.
And I call the reporter: “I don't want to talk to you. Give me your boss.”
You know, I'm the big shot: “Give me your boss.”
And I go, and I said: “Look, here's the thing.
You've got this thing right here.
Give it to us. We'll authenticate it.
You know, we'll do our thing and authenticate it, and we'll make sure we'll come back to you.
And it may take a couple days, but by Tuesday, we'll be back to you,
and we'll authenticate if this is really Trump and it hasn't been modified.”
You want to get beyond the debate.
Thank you.
And I said, “We'll authenticate it.”
I'm like this big shot: “We'll authenticate it; we'll deal with this.”
He goes, “Hey, look, dude.”
He says: “It's 3:50. This thing's going up in nine minutes. It'll authenticate itself.”
Boom! That thing hits, and we're sitting in the conference room.
And on video—I didn't quite realize it was audio and video—in video, it's pretty powerful.
So everything shuts down.
Pretty powerful?
Locker room talk.
And so the rest of the day we've got to figure out—now, I've got a little something.
Understanding this is the time that he's going to have Hillary Clinton on a stage with him and Bill Clinton in the audience,
what I had done is that months before, with a guy named Aaron Klein at Breitbart,
it was about filming and getting the actual women that Bill Clinton had sexually assaulted.
And even in that we had a special guest: the woman, the young woman who Hillary Clinton had—
the rape victim that Hillary Clinton defended the rapist.
We had them all.
And we were supposed to get them up on Fox during that week—
—on Sean Hannity.
Like I'd done this movie, The Hope and the Change, about Democrats who voted for Obama, or not.
We do an audience show, and he was going to have all the people up there.
We were going to show all the videos, have them cry on stage. Boom.
And for some reason—and I'm not saying that it's Fox senior management that thought
maybe Hillary's going to win so they didn't want to get this kind of down in the mud—
And so Aaron kept filming them at the Watergate Hotel in Washington, D.C.
And so as soon as I saw that, this is now, I think, 3:00 or 4:00 on Friday afternoon,
I call Aaron, and I said, “Check and see if they're available to come to St. Louis,” right?
And he checked and said, “They're all—they'd love to come to St. Louis.”
I go, “Fine.”
Aaron was going to put these things up on the Breitbart site,
the filmed interviews of these people because Fox wouldn't do it, and Drudge was going to link to it.
It was going to be up Sunday morning.
And somehow we'd get them there.
So I've got a little thing in my back pocket I'm not telling anybody about.
We go in there, and it's—it's kind of a disaster.
We're trying to figure out what's going—we're being inundated now by the Republican Party.
So the first thing we do is, OK, Trump's going to answer this, and we're going to do a video, right?
Have him answer; at least buy us some time.
That's the thing they call the hostage video, right?
We finally get it done I think at midnight. It is a fiasco.
We have a tough time technically. He has to read it off a screen.
He's editing the thing.
And I actually, when I look back on it, I actually think it's a work of art.
Let's say this. The general journalistic community did not agree with me at the time.
They're going like, “Who put Trump in this little box, right, with a fake New York City background in a hostage video?”
But I think it does—that gets us through Friday.
Next day, we're going to have a high command meeting.
Wait a minute. On Friday, Ryan and all—is that when Ryan runs and lots of other guys run away?
They're starting to run, but they don't run till Saturday morning.
You're getting—but listen, I can tell the dam's about to break, right?
We're getting inundated, nonstop calls.
And poor Reince is sitting there.
In fact, Reince says: “Hey, I'm not going to stay for the shooting of the video.
Let me get back to D.C. and calm things down.”
And I go, “Fine.”
And I said: “But you know, we've got to be back up here tomorrow because tomorrow's going to be Dien Bien Phu, right?
We're now—we're going to be under siege.
So we set a meeting for 11:00 in the morning.
And by that morning it's starting to—I mean, we're getting—Condi Rice,
everybody, they're punching out of the ticket, they're off this thing, out.
And Reince is—I call him, and he's on the train. Fine.
We get there; it's about 10 minutes to 11:00, I think it is.
No Reince.
And we're going to have the meeting up in Trump Tower, OK?
And this is how serious it is.
Jared [Kushner] and Ivanka [Trump], who are very observant, you know, Jewish,
observant Jewish people who really take the Sabbath very seriously, have—in all the campaign have never taken off.
They actually, that night, are around for the shooting of the video in [accordance] with their religious beliefs.
But they actually do everything and come back up the next day.
Everybody—you know, so the whole high command's going to be there.
And there's no Reince.
And I get Reince on the phone.
I go: “Where are you? Where are you going to be?”
He says, “I'm down at Penn Station, but I'm going to get back on the train.”
I go, “What do you mean you're going to get back on the train?”
He says, “Look, I've talked to the donors. It's over. I can't—if I go there, I'm going to get fired as RNC chair.”
And I go, “Dude, you're showing up.”
And he goes: “I can't do it, man. This thing's over.”
And I go: “What do you mean it's over? It's not over. We're going to power through.”
He says: “You're not going to power through. This thing's over.”
We get in this huge argument.
And I'm pretty close to Reince.
Reince is a solid guy.
I said: “You've got to show up here.
If you don't show up here, you're going to get torched worse than you ever think you're going to get torched by the donors.
And you're going to have to do the perp walk.
You're going to have to come through Trump and that thing with all the TV cameras.
You're going to have to get in the elevator bank, and you're going to have to come up and join us.” And he does.
And so we get up there, and then, you know, it's Rudy [Giuliani] and Christie
and all the traditional politicians are saying it's over and you've got to—you know, Trump's going around and saying,
“Give me your percentage and what do I do,” and they're all like, you know, 0%, 20%,
and they want to have him go on 60 Minutes; they want to have him—
Kellyanne [Conway] comes with an idea that David Muir would come in and do a live ABC News thing,
you know, with Melania [Trump] and Ivanka.
And they're not– so the whole thing is kind of a fiasco.
So he finally comes around to me.
He says, “What's your percentage?”
And I've told him from the day I've taken this job on and thing:
“You have 100% metaphysical certitude that you will win if you just stick to this populist nationalist message
and hang her as the representative of the elite.
We hang that around her, that she represents the elite, you represent the people, you're a populist, and we hammer it.
You're going to win.
I don't care if you're 16 down. It doesn't matter.
The key number is 70% of the people think America's in decline.
You're going to return America to her former glory.”
He comes to me and says, “What do you think?”
I said, “100%.”
He goes, “100% what?”
I said: “100%, you've got this.
It's a metaphysical certitude lock.”
He goes, “Knock off with the 100%.”
He goes, “I've got to hear your real number.”
I go, “It's 100%.”
He goes—I said: “Listen, they don't care.
This is locker room talk. They don't care about vulgarity or anything like that.
They care about—they care about they're losing their jobs; they're losing their country.
They see their country going away from them.
They don't have anything to pass down to the kids. That's what they care about.…
You know, Jared and I have … we've basically rented the Hilton Ballroom two blocks over, and at 6:00,
we're going to go out at noon, we're going to go out here in a half-hour and put up on your Twitter and on Facebook,
'We're holding a rally for everybody who shows up in a red hat,' and we'll pack it with a bunch of hammerheads,
and you're going to throw down and just go after The Washington Post and the media.
And that's how we're going to power through this.
No excuses.
No, you know, just let's power through and see Hillary [unintelligible].
Let's say this. That didn't exactly get voted.
There was not a unanimous consent we should do that plan.
And we decided to compromise. …
So the compromise is David Muir and ABC.
So David Muir is like, out in the Hamptons. They're going to helicopter in.
ABC gets the whole crew over, 6:00.
We take a break and go down to the infamous 25th-floor conference room
where we've had all the big events in my life with Trump were there—
Trump is going to take an hour, get sorted, come down,
and Christie and Rudy are going to write his preamble that he's going to be able to say on ABC.
This is 6:00 on Saturday night, live to the nation.
It will be the biggest show in history since MASH, right: Donald Trump addressing the Billy Bush tape.
And I'm sitting at the end of the thing with Stephen Miller.
And watching this I'm sitting there going: “It's over.
If we do this, it's over.
There's just nobody—you can't pull—this is not—you can't pull this off.”
So I'm sitting thinking, what are we going to do here?
And he gets there, and Christie and these guys, it's not even typed—I think it's handwritten by Christie—
puts it over, and Trump comes out, and Trump's in a bad mood.
The time we left him alone up in the tower had not been quality time, OK?
In what way?
I just don't know, but he's not in a good mood.
He's in a bad mood, OK? There were a lot of people in a bad mood up there, OK?
The tape—the tape was pretty raw, right?
And now we've got—by the way, now we've got a full revolt, you know.
Pence is nowhere to be found; he's not out there saying—he gives—we get a letter from him.
Paul Ryan's out of the campaign. McConnell's out.
I mean, now it's a whole—it's a thing that—and Reince lays up a proposal.
You know, Reince—he asks Reince, “What do you think?”
He says: “You've got two choices.
You're either going to lose by the biggest landslide in history, or you step down today,
and we've got a way that we can restructure the ticket that—
only Colorado's out of play because they've got to mail in the ballots.
Everything else we can get changed, and we can do this.”
I go: “Are you nuts? Not going to do that.”
I told Reince later, I said: “Why did you even bring that up?
It's not going to happen, OK? It's not going to happen.
We'll fight this through some other way, but that is not going to happen.
He's not going to quit.
Just even to bring that up is absurd.”
That was the donors. … Because they thought they were going to lose the Republican Party.
They thought every woman in America will never vote for a Republican again, right, because this guy's a barbarian.
We're in the conference room.
Christie gives him this thing with Rudy, and he starts reading.
Donald Trump says, he gets like two sentences in, and he goes:
“This is crap. This is baby talk. Am I baby? I'm not going to do this.”
He turns around to them; he goes, “It's got to be better, or I'm out.”
And they go, “Well, make this change.”
He turns around to me; he goes, “This is ridiculous; I'm not doing it.”
And Kellyanne goes: “Well, we've got to do it.
They're flying— ABC's loading up; this thing's set up.
David Muir's helicoptering in. This thing's a go.”
And Trump just goes, “I'm not doing it.”
And you hear from—you're all the way up on the 25th floor in Trump Tower.
You can hear on the streets.
Trump goes, “What's that?”
And you look down.
There's got to be 10,000 people on Fifth Avenue.
They've blocked—they've got the police on the horses.
They've got riot police.
You look down, and there's literally this mob down there.
And he goes: “Look, there's my people, my people. That's where I've got to do.”
I said, “We can't get to the Hilton; we let it go.”
He says, “I'm just going to go down and talk to my people.”
And I said, “Well, you know, I don't think all of those are our people.”
Of the mob, probably 80% want Trump's head on a pike.
There's 20% are the deplorables.
And most of them are sitting there, angry women that are sitting there wanting to tear Trump apart.
I said, “I don't know if that's exactly our crowd.”
But this is what a leader does.
He just says: “No, no, no, these are my people. I've got to go talk to my people.”
The Secret Service says: “This is not going to happen.
You're not going to walk out there. We have no control.”
And he just goes, “I'm going.” He takes off.
And I—Kellyanne goes with him, and then Christie and I have a sidebar tête-à-tête off to the side.
Trump goes down.
That's that famous picture of Trump just walks out there.
And if you listen to the crowd, you know, two-thirds of the crowd is “We hate you!,” right?
But he blocks it out.
He's waving and everything like that and turns it into, I think, a seminal moment.
That was—that, in that moment, he won the presidency.
And I realized all my study of military history and everything like this,
campaigns come down to one or two decisions made with imperfect information in the heat of battle and the fog of war.
One way leads you to victory, and the other way leads you to defeat.
There was 90% chance we were going the other way that day, from the night before,
from the pressure that was on him and everything like that.
And that's what a leader does.
He's able to reach in and understand something.
And I think people misjudge this in Trump.
He's got a natural leadership ability to basically focus and make the right decision.
That was the inflection point.
The women we got there the next day and everything like that, but it was in that moment, when he stood up and said,
“I'm not doing this,” and “Oh, you can't; ABC's here,” he looks down at the crowd, which was a hostile crowd,
but in his mind turned it into “Those are my people; I've got to go down and address them.”
When he went down and did that thing, the whole thing kind of reverted.
And from there on in, we had to still punch it out, but it was—
if it would change in that moment, if he had gone on ABC, Hillary Clinton would be president of the United States.
… We've seen the video of you lining up Paula Jones and everybody else, and you have this kind of—
it's a mirthful look on your face as you're going in behind the cameras as that is unfolding.
What are you thinking at that point?
So we wanted—I wanted to spring the trap on these guys
because I thought in the Twitter feeds and everything like that, they were so one-sided.
So what we did, we didn't tell anybody.
It was just Jared.
I got permission from Jared the next day.
I sat with Jared and said—he and I were kind of partners in the campaign—
I said: “Look, here's how I'm going to bring them, and here's what we'll do.
We're going to get them in a room, line them up with mics,
have Trump come down and talk to them, you know, hug them and everything like that.
And then we're going to let the media know that we're ending our debate prep, which technically we are,
and just let them in and spring the trap,
and hit them with a full volley of Paula Jones' 'He raped me,' right, and just hit them, right?
Clinton's actions versus Trump's words, and then have them at the debate, where Clinton's got to walk by them.
They're going to be in the family section, in the VIP seats right there.
And Bill Clinton's going to have to walk by them,” because these ladies are so mad,
they're going to grab a piece of Bill Clinton on national TV and read him the riot act.
And so Trump didn't know about it; Reince didn't know about it.
And we got Hope Hicks in on the thing at the last second to get them in and everything like that.
So we walk up to—we're now in the presidential suite at the hotel.
We're doing some debate prep and everything like that.
Trump's off to the side.
I told Jared, “We've got to go tell him.”
Walk up and Trump, as often would do, would kind of lean back and almost close his eyes,
and I said: “OK, here's what we got.
We got Paula Jones and all the women that Trump—that Clinton assaulted.
Plus we got the rape victim, right?
And they're all fired up.
You're going to go down.
The media assumes you're in debate prep.
You're going to spend 10 or 15 minutes with them, hear their stories, commiserate with them, talk to them.
Then you're going to sit in the middle.
We're going to open the door, and they're going to come in, and we're going to f---ing hit them, OK?”
And I'm sitting there; I'm making my pitch, right?
He goes—I go, “What do you think?”
He goes, “I love it.”
So just Jared and I, we grab Trump and don't tell Reince or anybody, we just slip out of the room.
We got a service elevator. We go right down.
And the thing is—and as soon as—that's when I went over.
I had to see when we sprung the door and they all—and of course, the guys that came in were the ones I detest the most;
they're all—and the doors open, and they go,
“Is it appropriate to like, grab women without their permission?,” and they're all yelling.
And they get in there, and it's like, “What is this?”
And they hit a volley.
And my girl Paula Jones, the first one, “Bill Clinton raped me!,” right?
And just, boom! And they hit it.
It was perfect. And that got us momentum.
Now, what happened backstage was—
remember, at the other debate, they had put Mark Cuban right down in Trump's eye line, eyesight.
And I said, “No, no, no, the deal is Cuban's going to be back in the dark.…”
And the guys at the commission goes: “Well, we can't control it.
You know, we don't have security to control it.”
I go: “What do you mean? I'll get the Secret Service and take him out, but he can't be sitting right in Trump's line.
That's not the way it's going to work.”
These guys go, “Oh, no, no, no, we don't have security, and he's got to stay.”
So here I go up and tell them, I said, “Hey, here's actually the seating for the VIPs.”
And it's Paula; it's all of them.
And he goes, “Oh, no, no, no, that's family only.”
I said: “It's family only?
That's interesting, because Claire McCaskill is sitting with the Clintons.
So it's not—it's just VIPs.
These were our VIPs.
Melania and Ivanka are going to sit in the first row in back of them,” right?
And these guys go, “Uhh.”
And I said, “Yeah, and Clinton, the way we agreed on the stage thing, we walk out here, you walk out there,
and Bill Clinton's going to walk right by them.”
And these guys go, “Oh, no, no, no.”
They come back and said, “If you seat them, we're going to have security remove them.”
I said: “Hang on. We just had a debate two weeks ago.
You couldn't move Cuban because you don't have security.”
They go, “Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah.”
So we had this massive fight.
And so we're down now to like 90 seconds before showtime.
I go up to the—to Mr. Trump, and I say: “OK, look, here's the drill.
If we force this, we can do it, but it's going to cause a consternation; it may embarrass Ivanka and Melania. Your call.
We can—I think we've done enough.
They'll still be right there giving him stink eye.”
And he's rattled; you can tell Bill Clinton and the whole Clinton thing is rattled.
He goes, “Let's do it that way.”
And I go, “Fine.”
So at the last second we seat the family.
And you saw Bill Clinton—that's where they had that great shot on Drudge where he's like looking—
he's thinking we're going to like, springboard these—because these women are worked up right now.
They want a piece of Bill Clinton big time.
And that energy and having Hillary—and you could tell Clinton, she was off her game that night.
We had rattled them.
And so I think that gave us the velocity.
That gave us the muzzle velocity to kind of drive home in the last, you know, four or five weeks of the campaign.
So he wins.
Well, well—that ground has been covered.
Well, one part maybe hasn't.
We say “wins.”
I'm the 100% metaphysical certitude.
And we get the—we get the—we get the exit polls at 5:00.
The exit polls at 5:00 are—were tied in Iowa and Ohio, that I had us up like three or five points. Tied.
We're losing everywhere else, including blown out in Pennsylvania, blown out in Florida.
This is like a—I forget the total number.
I think it was like a 350-electoral vote, 400-electoral vote. This is a landslide.
We are blown out. I mean, it is a catastrophe.
And I'm sitting there.
We step on the balcony. And it's so bad that Jared and I—nobody should see these.
And we look at them, and I go: “We can't be that far off. We've got this thing.
We're over top of Wisconsin. I mean, we're competitive in Pennsylvania. It can't be this bad.”
And he goes—Jared says, “Hang on one second.”
He calls Drudge, and Drudge goes: “F--- these things.
This is all corporate media.
This is all f---ed up. They're lying.”
So I feel better.
And we call Trump, and Trump goes: “Hey, we left it all in the field. Nothing else we could have done.”
And we decided that since it's—we get the kids, and we got Don Jr. and some others get on talk radio,
The Mark Levin Show, and, hey, we've got to—and it was a big lesson.
We heard almost instantaneously, people came to us and said the newsrooms, you know,
were high-fiving and people were laughing.
This is Trump.
Not just a defeat.
This is going to be—to crush this thing, right?
All this disruption and all Trump's stuff and all these kind of guys in red hats, it's over.
And it was a huge lesson for me, because it started to play out exactly like—
the only thing that concerned me is the Detroit Free Press called, I think it was 8:00 or 9:00,
right out of the box, they called Michigan for Hillary Clinton.
And they are—you know, in 150 years, I don't think they've ever been wrong.
They're—it's not like some broadcast TV thing that's got—they were—they're on it.
And I go, man, I said, that's—because I think we're going to win Michigan.
Michigan, I got—you know, we got this.
And I think it was around midnight.
It was right after Ohio and a couple of others came in.
We had like five states that hadn't been called at midnight for the first time in their history.
The Detroit Free Press reversed it and said too close to call.
And that's when I said, “Trump's president of the United States.”
Did he think he was going to lose?
He's so—he's competitive.
Not that he was going to lose.
He was so competitive.
But of course, the drumbeat—you've got to remember, every day on Morning Joe, every day in The New York Times,
we're the island of misfit toys, we're the—because I'd never been in a campaign headquarters in my life.
You know, Kellyanne had never run a campaign. She's a pollster, right?
We're just this group of— it's a grab bag of people.
Now we could see, particularly in these kind of working-class districts,
that's why we kept going back to Wisconsin; that's why we kept going to Michigan.
Remember, in Wisconsin, Paul Ryan wouldn't campaign with us on that Sunday because he says we're going to lose;
I can't take two national defeats.
And we don't go to Wisconsin because Ryan won't be on the stage with us…
The key thing is that the algo—first off, two things.
Number one, there's a lot of people that vote for Trump that will never admit to voting for Trump.
That's one of the reasons the exit polls were wrong, is that they won't admit it even if they voted for him.
The other one was algorithm of the Detroit Free Press was at from the urban areas
that they extrapolated out the algorithms of the rural areas,
and that's where Trump overperformed, in kind of small-town America, right?
He overperformed where we had kind of focused.
And so those two things had the—had the exit polls wrong,
and that led to this [massive] surprise where the whole media was so joyous at the beginning of the night,
and then starting at like 9:00 or 10:00, you could tell that this thing was going in the—this thing was going in our direction.
Let's go the inauguration, what a lot of people call the “American carnage” speech.
Did you write that speech?
No, the president wrote it, but Miller and I had—the inauguration speech was the—it was—
there were two speeches that week, that people don't focus on the other.
There was President Xi goes to Davos on Tuesday, I think, and gives a speech on globalization.
And Trump's speech on Friday, it's called the “American carnage” speech.
You know, maybe we should have realized in writing it that that would be the takeaway line, but the takeaway line—
and I don't want this to sound too high-falutin', but it was structured a little bit on Lincoln's second inaugural.
Lincoln goes back through all the causes of the war, right?
He talks about his previous thing and what had happening in the country,
and then he ends with this very powerful phrase, “And then war came.”
And he stops, pauses, and then he does the rest of the speech.
Our whole thing was to build up with the president about how the elites had not taken action, that the country got in this thing.
And the punch line was, “Now comes the hour of action.”
Boom, you lead down to that, hit with the “hour of action,” and then Trump talks about what he's going to do.
Obviously, we had the “American carnage” line in there.
But it was really, if you look at the two speeches in hindsight, it's really two—
it's one is pitching kind of this globalized, globalist system
where you have a center of power that happens to be in China in administrative units throughout the world.
And Xi's speech is very particular of that the problem in the world today is caused by populism;
it's called by nationalism; it's called by this.
Trump's is a defense of essentially the Westphalian system.
It is a defense of the nation-state as the unit of government, as the unit of how we're going to govern us,
govern ourselves with the citizen, a free citizen, as the basic unit of that.
And so that speech, which Trumps works on intensely in Mar-a-Lago—
and this one, because Trump would not practice the rally speeches.
We'd have it up there, and he would go off script.
Here he practiced over and over again, including the night after all the balls and everything.
Stephen and I were cleaning it up; we had the exact same—
because we'd been on the stage to make sure everything was perfect.
We went back to Blair House, and we actually had the exact podium in Blair House in one of the old libraries there.
The president came back at like midnight and practiced a couple more times.
So he was—he was very bought into this thing and kind of owned that speech,
which I think is still one of the most powerful speeches.
He conceived this thing.
I remember in Mar-a-Lago, he's working on the lines “We will form new alliances and create new ones,”
or—excuse me—“We will form new alliances and rejuvenate old ones.
And we will unite the civilized world to eradicate radical Islamic terrorism from the face of the earth.”
And at the time I kind of said, “Hey, that's a big check you're going to have to cash.”
But this was his focus on the destruction of the physical caliphate of ISIS to start off with, and he wanted that in there.
And I said, “That's going to be—that line is going to be read back to you many, many times as you go forward,”
but he wanted—so he was adamant that certain elements of this thing had to be in there.
And he got them in there.
This was very much—this was very much his speech.
We went over this thing, and he would edit as we went, change it, recraft it, etc.
So the amazing thing, a lot of people talked about,
we talked about it in the beginning of one film, at least, which was, there you all are.
There's Washington.
There's the administrative state in a lot of ways standing behind him.
And he's delivering a speech that castigates in some ways, in lots of ways, the elite Washington establishment,
and they're right behind him.
I fully expected him at some moment to turn and point back at them.
… I told Stephen, I said, “The only problem we've got here, structurally,
as you look at it how this whole thing is being built is that we should turn the podium around
and he should address the swamp.” That would be the powerful speech.
That it was literally addressed —
and I knew we hit the mark because you could tell that Bush was very uncomfortable with this…
The victory night speech was very watered down
because in the victory night speech he called the country to come together, right?
The first cut that Stephen and I had on the victory– because Trump is very superstitious.
There was no victory speech and there was no concession speech written on that night.
We literally wrote that after, we started it after the Detroit Free Press flipped it back to too close to call.
Because that's when we knew we had this thing.
So Stephen and I started working on it like at, you know, one, 12, one o'clock in the morning, typing this thing up…
It was go to Washington, and we're going to burn out the permanent political class.
We're going to take a torch to the enemy. Okay? It was fire-breathing.
That all got watered down into kind of, let's have a group hug.
It's the reason, interestingly enough, you never see the Trump victory night speech ever replayed.
Because it's just not Trump.
It's kind of like, let's have a group hug.
But what it did was start everybody saying, “The pivot is coming. Like every president pivots.”
He gets in the Oval Office; he sits down, and the weight of it all,
the responsibility to heal, the inclusion moment or the division moment or the fight-back moment.
And everybody said he's going to pivot; he has to pivot. But he didn't pivot.
Because the media doesn't—remember, the mainstream media is not in on the joke.
Here's the joke: The American elite have allowed the nation to decline.
They are into managed decline.
And this is not about political party.
This is the permanent political class, OK?
It's sponsorship on Wall Street and in corporate America.
They have this kind of, these political apparatchiks down in Washington.
But they are in managed decline to unacceptable outcomes to average citizens,
managed decline for unacceptable outcomes to average citizens, because they don't have to bear the brunt of it.
They don't bear the brunt of the health care system in collapse.
They don't bear the brunt of the education system in collapse.
They're taken care of.
To wit, they bring about the largest financial collapse in the country, and they're better off in 10 years.
Why wouldn't you like the system?
The system is working great for them.
It's not managed decline for them.
They're making more money in the way down than they made on the way up.
And so that's where Trump is a rallying cry for that.
Remember, the lead-up to the inauguration is we're going to hit the deck plates running with these executive orders.
We've got this whole system that Miller has gone through—
Tell me about that.
An outside—an outside organization had done this theoretical analysis
to show that every executive order that was still around from Obama and from Bush,
and we had this whole thing; we had a whole tiger team of the White House counsel guys,
the “deconstruction of the administrative state,” which is a huge element.
Remember, you've got two forms of populism.
You have right-wing populism; you have left-wing populism.
Right-wing populism is about deconstruction of the administrative state.
[Sen.] Bernie Sanders and AOC [Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez] is about more inclusion of the state.
We're both populists, but they want more state intervention; we want less.
In fact, we want to start to take apart certain parts of the apparatus.
And so that whole thing is basically focused on the deconstruction of the administrative state at the same time,
saying: “Hey, we're nationalists.
This is about the nation.
The nation's concerns have to come—have to come forward.”
We had in the first 100 days, every day we're going to be hitting with either three executive orders,
whatever, number one is that the Democratic Party is shattered.
They don't know if they're coming or going, right?
They've got one group that's doing identity politics, another group that's the Clinton centrists.
I said: “We've broken them right now.
They have no idea.
They're going to have their own internal civil war, right? That will keep them occupied for a while.”
So what we've got to do is just hit, hit, hit, and keep it up.
It's momentum, momentum, momentum.
The opposition party is the media.
And the media can only, because they're dumb and they're lazy, they can only focus on one thing at a time.
And the one thing they'll mainly focus on is either they do the horse race, or what's the horse race, who's in, who's out.
It's like the high school—who are the cool kids in the cafeteria, right?
Because it's easy.
It's the reason they do the horse-race stuff all the time, right?
They won't do the basic, what are the core things that are going on in the country.
I said, all we have to do is flood the zone.
Every day we hit them with three things.
They'll bite on one, and we'll get all of our stuff done, bang, bang, bang.
These guys will never—will never be able to recover.
But we've got to start with muzzle velocity.
So it's got to start, and it's got to hammer, and it's got to—
What was the word?
Muzzle velocity.
When you get anything in life—remember the house is 5-7 against, right?
To get something done, you've got to go through these certain stages of momentum and keep forcing it.
And so otherwise just pure inertia, right, or the loss of energy.
So did you know that with the travel ban and lots of other—the things that came,
just the chaos that appeared to be chaos that wasn't apparently chaos,
that you'd lose some, that you might lose many of them?
Why do you say “lose”?
Correct me if I'm wrong: Didn't the Supreme Court of these United States say that the travel ban, as written—
and by the way, they would have said the first travel ban was 100% constitutional.
Is that not just a fact? Yes, it is. OK?
We knew the travel ban was bulletproof, OK?
Also look at the other EOs we did that day.
The other EO is really what galvanizes everything about border enforcement
and about tying together all the laws are out there and giving the Kelly the actual momentum to go do it.
So no, the—and the travel ban had been worked on—
remember, this is something that Miller started working on in early November.
This was all pushed through the interagency process.
Here's the thing that's so phony about the media.
Every time you do an executive order, you have to get basically a legal opinion.
The Office of Legal Counsel of DOJ [Department of Justice] has to basically give you a signoff thing
that this thing is constitutional.
Otherwise, you just have guys doing executive orders all the time.
There is a governing unit to the system.
That governing unit is the Office of Legal Counsel telling you you can actually do this or not.
So we thought we were on very strong grounds constitutionally, and operationally we thought we were on strong grounds, too.
And the other thing I would say is that, you know, knock on wood, but there hasn't been a terrorist attack—
there has not been a terrorist attack since the extreme vetting went in.
Remember, Trump, and to his credit, wanted to stick with the original.
The backing off of the original was because of literally [Secretary of Defense James] Mattis and other people
about Iraq being an ally in the war to take down the physical caliphate of ISIS.
And there was some, you know, some changes to that.
But President Trump, from the very beginning, goes: “No, I've done the analysis.
I've had you guys walk me through it.
I signed this thing originally. I'm sticking with this.
The Supreme Court will eventually back us up after we get out of this crazy 9th District.
This is what I'm going to stick with.”
It was the staff that went back.
The people kind of blinked, right?
Because you've got some people in the White House that are a little more sensitive than other people, right?
Some people blinked, and he—we got the second version.
The second version was proved constitutional after all the—all the—you know, all the things.
And it's been very effective. That's the other thing. It's been a very effective process.
… You hit them right away at the Pentagon, of all places.
Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes.
Your idea?
I think a collective idea, the way to do it, because it was about national security.
The way to do it was to do it at the Pentagon.
Actually, the interesting thing, I think the more powerful of the two—of the two that day
was the second EO that really organized everything, of all the different laws of the country, put it on one document,
signed by an EO, that empowered the Department of Homeland Security and the attorney general actually to start enforcing,
to enforcing—you don't need to change one immigration law in the books; they're all there.
You just need to start enforcing them.
Remember, Gen. Kelly was not an ideologue like Stephen Miller and myself and others.
He was a guy who says, “Hey, if it's the law of the land, I'm going to enforce the law.”
This gave him, this just brought into high relief, this.
And I think it was only the L.A. Times that weekend, the L.A. Times actually wrote the article I thought was so smart.
They said: “Hey, everybody's focused on this travel ban.
Actually, the one has much bigger implications is this other one.”
So no.
But my point is that every day we were hitting—you know, we were going to hit them with additional stuff.
And after that it started—you can tell in the White House.
We had the two camps start to develop: the more globalist, you know, establishment camp
and more the kind of disrupters, populist, nationalist camp.
And then everything eventually became a knife fight shortly thereafter.
You knew going in—I've heard the story that you left the parade and went in and secured an office,
prime real estate in the West Wing, for your whiteboards. True story?
I never– I made the pitch to the president-elect—I think it was 10 days after we won—
about the whole inauguration.
I said we're going to take—going to go to Obama's and do one dollar less than Obama,
purely populist, no balls, no fancy dinners, nothing.
No big lunch on Capitol Hill with all the swamp.
You do the inauguration address.
You immediately get in so that people don't freeze.
We go right to Penn—you go right to the White House immediately.
My thing was that we, very first act would be move the capital—move the embassy to Jerusalem.
And then we come back to Capitol Hill that night and you have a joint session of Congress,
and that's when you just repeal Obamacare on national TV right there.
We just do it. And we're at work.
If there's a crisis, treat it like a crisis.
And then you have one ball.
It's a military ball, and you and Melania go dance, and that's the inauguration.
And they'll talk about it forever. And everybody—
And the message is?
And the message is, it's a crisis; we're at work; everybody, we're driving this.
Donald Trump's president of the United States.
Now comes the hour of action.
There's been enough talk.
I won; it wasn't close, OK?
Everybody mocked me; everybody ridiculed me.
We had no thing.
We just won with 300 and what, five electoral votes.
Suck on it.
Here's what's going to happen.
Now comes the hour of action. No more talk.
And the alternative of that was the one that the U.S. attorney's now looking at, OK?
You raise a couple hundred million dollars.
My whole pitch was, you have done something that literally is a miracle in modern politics, that even Obama couldn't do.
You have literally come to this office unencumbered.
You don't owe anybody anything, because big donors are rational human beings, and they thought you were going to lose,
so we didn't really raise any money from anybody.
It was all small-dollar, essentially.
You're totally unencumbered. You don't owe anybody anything.
You can have an entire populist program unlike anything in American history.
Every dollar you take to have a party, we won with no money.
Now you're going to have a party and borrow money that every dollar is going to have $10 associated with,
where some guy who's going to have his hand out?
Why would we do that? Why would you do that?
Why did they do that?
I have no earthly idea. I don't know.
I think they pitched—what the pitch was is that it'll be very classy, it'll be very—
it'll be all your followers would love to come to it.
I mean, it was a sensible pitch.
But from that time forward, I didn't go to one coffee, I didn't go to one dinner, I didn't—no more Times in the email.
I said, “Get it off; I don't want to know about it.”
I'm going to work on the speech with him.
I'm going to show up to see the speech, and then I'm getting up to the White House, and I'm going to go to work.
Get my office and go to work.
Give me some—just like, you know, put whiteboards up; that's all I want.
And we're going to put the campaign promises up there.
That's what got—and we're going to check off.
We'll have an EO associated with every—or legislation with every campaign promise, and we'll be fine.
When did you know you were in the knife fight?
The first wakeup call is when everybody didn't say—on the on the victory address,
“Oh, yeah, this is amazing; this is great. Why don't we do this?”
It was kind of “Meh.”
They said, “No, no, no, this is like a Trump rally speech.”
And it was all, “We should bring the country together.”
To me, look, there's times for that, and there's times not for that, OK?
We didn't win an election to bring the country together.
He won an election to basically come after the permanent political class and the elite in this country
and hold them accountable for what they've done…
They've then taken off the backs of the taxpayer, the little guy,
and they've saved themselves with this explosion of the balance sheet of the Federal Reserve,
which is just free money for them.
They've destroyed the pension programs.
They've destroyed the ability to save.
Nobody owns anything.
We have neo-feudalistic system.
It's not time to bring the country together.
It's time to take on the elites in this country.
Take the torch to them. Hit them with a blowtorch.
And that's what the Trump—and look, my only time in the White House, the only thing—and I never apologize,
but the one thing I look back in hindsight, I wasn't tough and strong enough.
We should have been much harder, OK?
We should have—I should have fought harder for some of the things, I'm not saying I compromised on,
but I said, OK, if that's the way it's got to be.
I should have been tougher.
This country has a massive problem, and now you're seeing it.
And what I told the donors, I said, “You may hate my guts, OK?,” because remember, in the Oval Office,
I'm the guy arguing for a 44% tax on every, all dollar—all income over 5 million bucks, because I told the donors,
I said: “If we don't get this thing sorted, you're going to have a left-wing populism, and they're not coming for your income.
They're coming for your assets, OK?
It's going to be just like Europe.”
And Fauxcahontas on her list punches out, what, 2% of $50 million and 3% at a billion, tax on assets which we never had.
And that's an opening bid, OK?
You're going to start seeing this be a constant on the left.
You know, I've told these donors that you've got to understand something.
We have to make fundamental changes to this neo-feudalistic system.
People have to start to get ownership.
They have to get ownership in the companies.
They have to get ownership in real estate.
Incomes have to start to rise.
The Wall Street Journal can't go through meltdown when income—wages are starting to rise, you know,
“Inflation coming back,” you know, “Income's rising.”
So there has to be fundamental change.
And so I knew right away that something was going on. There were all kind of knife fights during the transition.
But it really got ugly after about the second week in there.
And it really started to get ugly, not about immigration; they were ugly.
The biggest fights were about China and trade.
And that's because, the reason is we had so many Wall Street guys.
And look, I worked at Goldman Sachs.
We had Goldman Sachs guys in there who were basically the IR department, the investors—
Goldman Sachs and Wall Street is the investor relations partner,
you know, for the Chinese CCP, this radical cadre that runs China.
This is not about the Chinese people.
This is about a radical cadre that runs the Chinese Community Party
that has a totalitarian, mercantilist system that is incompatible—incompatible—with the system we have in the West.
One side will win, and one side will lose.
So very early on, in the first couple of weeks of the administration,
this confrontation with China's economic war became the most explosive thing.
It's where all the knife fights came, all the [former National Security Adviser H. R.] McMaster stuff,
the [Michael] Cohen stuff, [Secretary of the Treasury Steve] Mnuchin, myself, Jared, the—
the nationalist and the globalist divide was because of that.
Then many, many other issues, whether it's, you know, putting stuff in—
because remember, Obama and Bush, the globalists, support this kind of—
they turned the military into kind of this humanitarian expeditionary force, right?
They want to be everywhere, sticking their nose in everybody's business.
They're just dying to get up into Syria.
Syria's a place they got to get up into because the Russians are in Syria, right?
And my point is, hey, American foreign policy for 50 years has had one thing in the Middle East: Keep Russia out, OK?
And Obama's watch and [Secretary of State John] Kerry's,
whatever they do with Iran, Russia got a foothold in the Middle East.
Well, you ain't gonna get them out of there, OK? It's just not going to happen.
And so anything that you're doing, get up there, they want to get it on with Russia.
They are manically focused on Russia, a country with an economy smaller than New York state
that's in a total demographic death spiral, that doesn't make anything, that has—
it wouldn't exist if Germany and these countries in Europe wouldn't do natural gas deals with them.
Yet we have an existential threat.
The greatest existential threat we've ever had in the country's history,
is this totalitarian, mercantilist society in China which has One Belt, One Road, Made in China 2025 and 5G rollout
converging to take away advanced manufacturing in perpetuity.
And yet you have the corporatists and you have Wall Street, who have all made money.
Remember, the decline of America is inextricably linked to the shipping of its manufacturing base to China.
It's the Wall Street faction.
This is what Donald Trump understood in 2010.
Donald Trump's—Donald Trump today, when he goes out and speaks about China,
you could literally take it from what he said in 2010.
He understood the facts of the case then.
And it's been the biggest—the biggest thing we've done as a government is in two years,
we now are confronting China in the true economic war they've been running on us.
That is the single—when history looks back on this thing,
all the other Twitter madness and everything, they will look at the signal and the noise.
And the signal is, a great power struggle
as we personified or manifested in the first national security document that ever came out of the—
the first national security plan that came out in December of 2017 said global radical jihad is a problem.
It's a containable problem; here's how we're containing it.
Now the two great threats to the country are—it's a great power struggle, and they put Russia in there—
but it's basically China's gone from a strategic partner to strategic competitor, right?
And then today you're seeing the secretary of defense say today we've got three issues: China, China, China.
That is what Trump reoriented, and from the very first days of his administration,
the nastiest, nastiest fights by an order of magnitude were about trade and about this engagement with China.
Let's talk about Russia I'm interested in response to… the firing of [former FBI Director James] Comey.
How did you hear about it? What did you think about it?
And what did you say to the president?
It was, you know, it was ridiculous.
I told the president that.
The argument was all the agents hate him.
If you fire him, you know, they'll think it's fantastic.
The Democrats hate him.
It'll be the first time reaching across the aisle because they all hate him; they blame him for Hillary Clinton losing.
They'll look at it as a bipartisan effort.
And the deplorables hate him, and they'll be great and send money and just be dancing around.
And I said, OK, let's stipulate.
I don't agree with the first one.
For purposes of discussion, let's say it's true.
As soon as you fire him, he's J. Edgar Hoover, right?
I said the Democrats, as soon as you—as soon as you fire him, he's like Joan of Arc, right?
And I said the deplorables don't care.
I said, institutionally, the FBI has got to bleed you out, because this is a city of institutions; it's not a city of personalities.
There are personalities, but John Boehner,
nobody talks about John Boehner as speaker of the House because it doesn't matter.
He's the speaker of the House.
Just like you're not going to talk about Paul Ryan; just like you never mention Eric Cantor.
These are institutions with their own ways they roll, their own institutional logic.
You have to understand these institutions.
The FBI, institutionally, has to bleed you out.
You just—they're not going to allow somebody to fire and humiliate the head of the FBI.
And we're going to get a special counsel on top of it.
So I was kind of, you know, dismissed, but it's not—
What did he say?
But it was—it was very obvious.
The argument I made is that, I said, listen, it's the C-block on Anderson Cooper, I said, the network of pure, raw hate, right?
I said, even Anderson Cooper can't keep this thing alive.
There's no more squeezing the lemon.
Nobody cares.
I said, yeah, we got three or four months of this, maybe five months, but there's no Russian collusion.
Just play it out.
If you do this, it's going to create a firestorm.
We're going to get a special counsel, and that special counsel is going to have an unlimited writ
to go anywhere he wants to go, including your finances, your taxes, everything, everything that's ever been discussed.
He can do anything he wants.
And they will do it.
And you're giving them the weapon to do it. …So no, I think it was–
What was it about Comey that he didn't like? Do you know?
I don't know, but I think Comey—Comey's kind of a screwy character.
I—I—I—I'm, you know, I'm known for a guy that said we should fire Comey, like, on the afternoon of the 20th.
This should be our first decision. He's got to go.
Well, because of the dossier.
Remember, let's go back, which is not reported by the mainstream media.
We're sitting down at Mar-a-Lago, and we see the—we see the chyron that, you know,
the Obama administration has now ordered 35 guys out of the country; there's been this whole thing.
And the chyron on CNN says “because of involvement in the 2016 election.”
And I'm sitting there going, whoa, hang for a second.
I said, I was in the Pentagon during the Cold War, right, when we're 90 seconds away from launching on each other.
We never sent 35 of their guys home during that time.
This is like, monumental.
And the chyron's saying “for involvement in the 2016 election.”
I don't remember seeing that. I hear some guys talking about that, but I've never seen any documents like that.
… And by the way, we get the presidential daily briefing every day.
Where is that in the briefing? Where—where, where, who, who, who—where is that?
And you get the hubbada-hubbada-hubbada.
… I said we want to see the exact presentation that Barack Obama saw that caused him to do that.
This is a big thing in American policy with Russia.
And the chyron says because of involvement thing you sent 35 guys home.
We just want to see—I don't want to see one slide more; I don't want to see one slide less.
I want the exact guys that briefed Obama to come and brief Trump.
You had not been hearing through the fall about the CrowdStrike and all that stuff in The Washington Post and other places?
It's one thing to see s--- in the—come on, dude.
It's one thing to see stuff in the thing.
This is, you pulled the trigger; you sent 35 guys home.
In the height of the Cold War, we're 90 seconds about to launch on each other, we were sending 35 guys home.
This is a big deal.
Somebody made a decision on this, on things called information.
And all we asked for is show me the presentation; show me the deck; show me the decision memo.
Who briefed him? Give me the facts.
I know this. I see a bunch of guys running around and talking about it, and I see stuff in The Washington Post,
and it's leaked and not leaked, and it may be true, it may not be true, OK?
But I haven't seen it in an classified document.
You haven't seen it anywhere.
Show me. Where is it?
You know what you've got? You've got hubbada-hubbada-hubbada-hubbada-hubbada.
The whole thing in Trump Tower that took place on Jan. 5, this was all their guys.
Oh, no, we're going to—I said, I don't want to see—
Were you there?
You don't need to bring [former CIA Director John] Brennan and all these guys. You don't need to bring Brennan.
Just show the presentation that Barack Obama made the decision for.
So they set this big thing up.
I decided not to go because there was going to be too many guys there.
… I said, fine. I've got stuff to do because we're trying to put together a government.
We're still going through people.
So I'd be on another floor.
And—but—what happened is you had a presentation of which many people—
and after reviewing it later, hey, maybe, maybe not, OK?
Definitely not sending 35 guys home, OK?
Definitely not sending 35 guys home.
And you haven't shown any direct—I haven't seen any information that shows that level of direct involvement, OK?
And I'm not talking about a bunch of flakes running some trolling operation in Florida up on Facebook.
Please give me a break, OK?
But in that presentation, that's when Comey comes with the side thing.
The Steele dossier.
The Steele—and so they come up to me, and I go: “What are you talking about? What do you mean, dossier?”
And they go—I said, no, no, it was in the presentation,
because the presentation's got stamped on it “DNI [Director of National Intelligence], CIA, DOJ, FBI.”
This is a formal document.
It's interagency; it's been approved.
That's what we asked for.
They didn't have it the first time.
And nobody's ever asked this question: What did Obama see that Obama pulled the trigger in late December, OK?
They don't have it.
They've compiled this thing, which I don't even want to see.
This is a new thing. I don't care about this.
I want to see what he made the decision off of.
They've got this new thing.
But it's all got the stamps; it's all interagency.
That means a lot of guys at the working level signed off on this.
He's got the sidebar thing.
I said: “No, no, no, you can't touch it.
We don't do sidebars.
It's either in the document as an appendix or it's not.”
What was he doing?
I'll tell you what he was doing.
I said it right there. I said, “We're going to see this in the media,”
because there's all these rumors this kind of stuff was out there.
I said, “You're going to see this in the media.”
What happened 48 hours later?
This is what scumbags the mainstream media are, and how gutless they are.
Forty-eight hours later, BuzzFeed—BuzzFeed, the standard of excellence in journalism in our country—
prints the dossier with the link.
And I said, here it goes, because in The New York Times, The Washington Post,
it's up bang, bang, bang, bang, they're reporting that it was—this was given to the president, right?
They're not reporting on the accuracy of it.
They've been shopping this thing for months.
The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The New York Times,
because they do have editorial standards, they can't back this up; they're not going to print this.
But if it's in BuzzFeed and it says that this was presented to the president, then you've walked into the trap.
That's Comey.
Don't give me the Comey Boy Scout thing.
He knew exactly what he was doing.
He set up the president of the United States by giving him that thing
and knowing that it was going to be leaked out to BuzzFeed.
And then the whole mainstream media could report it
just reporting the news that BuzzFeed had this thing that had been presented.
That's why he should have been fired.
That's why I said this guy's got to go; he's a bad guy, bad guy who lacks judgment.
Even the guys in the FBI will say this because it was all this thing: He lacks judgment.
Under pressure, he doesn't make smart decisions.
That's why he's wavering during the whole campaign, you know, the Hamlet thing: Do I do it? Do I not do it?
Do I have a press conference?
What are you doing, dude? You're the head of the FBI. Act like it, right?
Bad guy and makes bad decisions.
That whole thing with the dossier was a total setup.
And the dossier's just a collection.
It's like a raw file on the FBI.
It's a bunch of guys saying stuff, etc.
So that's why I thought—and I told him as soon as I saw that, I said we're going to see this,
and 48 hours later BuzzFeed's got it, and then it's a massive story,
because everybody and all those guys that's seen it for months as they shopped it around,
but no legitimate news organization could verify any of the stuff in it.
But they could link to BuzzFeed who linked to the dossier because it was a news story.
When you heard that it was [Robert] Mueller, what did you think?
Because we have somebody who quotes you in the film we made that said,
“Steve Bannon said, 'Hey, watch out for these guys; they're killers.'”
When they fired the head of the FBI, we kind of get organized,
say, look, we've got to get a real director of the FBI now, right?
A real guy.
And what better way to start than Mueller, who's legendary, who passes the first time 98 to nothing.
And then they extend his time, and he passes 100 to nothing.
He's a legendary guy and stuff.
He comes over just to—we're going to introduce him to the president
just so he can talk to him about the attributes of who the FBI director would be.
And maybe if there's chemistry, and since he's a patriot, maybe, my idea is,
maybe we can talk Mueller into being our FBI director, and then we're good, OK, because we've got a legendary guy.
So we're sitting there.
And I'm in that little anteroom with Hope, and there's some people coming in and out.
We're trying to clear it because we bring—there's no announcement that it's Mueller.
It's not even on the schedule.
We're kind of slipping him in the back door because we don't want to cause some big consternation, right?
I'm sitting there, and Mueller walks right up to me.
Never seen the guy in my life.
Walks right up to me and goes,
“How could a member of the senior naval service allow his daughter to matriculate at West Point?”
I go, wow.
I go, “Hey, how you doing, sir?”
And I said: “Listen, here's worse news.
She actually got offered—she got offered a ride at the Naval Academy, too, and turned it down.”
And my family—so we laughed because he's a Marine.
We talked for a few minutes.
And he went in, and I said, man, to know that he went through all that stuff just to do that, it was pretty impressive.
Of course, everybody had told me he's a great guy.
As soon as he—you know, he spent time with the president.
They visited with the vice president.
I think [Jeff] Sessions was in there.
I think it was a good visit.
And then, you know, a short while later, he was announced as special counsel.
And I just go, oh, my God, this is going to be a grind, because this is a guy that doesn't leave any stone unturned.
I mean, now we've bought it, right? And this is going to be just a grind.
And it's, you know, this guy is a relentless guy.
Not that we—look, on the collusion thing, there's nothing to hide; there's nothing.
But you just—it's just the process is going to suck up a tremendous amount of time, a tremendous amount of energy.
You're now into the—you're now into the whirlwind, right? You've reaped the wind.
Now you're going to suffer the whirlwind.
So it's—I just thought it was just going to be bad.
And it turned out it, it turned out it has been bad.
I mean, it's been a real grind.
Do you see a change in Trump since the naming of the special counsel?
Same guy?
Same guy. Trump doesn't change.
Not throwing mush at the moon or anything.
He's still in it.
He hasn't agreed with it from day one.
I mean, he didn't agree with it on the Comey thing.
He said it'll never happen; they'll never announce it, and—no, he hasn't changed.
He thought it was, there's no collusion, so there should be no—why do you have a special counsel?
And he was very upset when [Rod] Rosenstein picked it.
He's called it a witch hunt from the very beginning.
You know, he's gone after these guys hard as saying, “What do you got?”
At least—I don't know about the leaks, but if what you've got is Roger Stone
and maybe some conversation with Julian Assange, that's a pretty thin reed to hang it on, right?
But he's been—he hasn't changed.
He's been adamantly against this.
It's not like there's anything to hide.
I think it's just that he feels, you know, aggrieved that they're coming after him on things that are made up.
And so he's been adamantly opposed to this from day one.
But I haven't seen any change.
The story of—I know you know Sessions very well, and really closely collaborated on the immigration stuff for Breitbart.
The story the day that Sessions and Trump are in the Oval Office and hear that Mueller's been picked,
and the president, by all accounts, loses it on—whether it's true or not—loses it on Sessions.
Sessions goes to the car and is in tears and resigns.
Then he's brought back up by Reince, I guess.
And you talked to Sessions with Reince.
Take me in there, can you?
I think we got Sessions back.
We couldn't have Sessions resigning, so we got Sessions back, and, you know,
talked to him and realized that he just put the, you know, don't—let's not do anything in haste.
What kind of shape was he in?
Well, I think he was—I think he'd had better days, right?
I think he's—you know, he's kind of an unflappable guy.
Really when you see him, he's very solid, you know,
and really the driving force of this kind of populist revolt for many, many years before Trump came on the thing.
And so I'm not just fond of him; I really consider him a mentor in a lot of regards.
And I realized many conservatives are very upset because—and even I was—
he did not seem to be very focused on Hillary Clinton or Uranium One, and he's just a—it's just the way he is.
You've just got to take it the way it is.
And I did pull him off to the side into my—into the war room,
and we talked, and I said, “Is there any doubt in your mind?”
I said, “You were there from the beginning.”
I said, “You were the very first guy.”
In fact, in this very room, I paced up and down for two hours on the phone with him
when he was in an airport in Memphis in an SUV waiting for Trump to show up,
where that day they were going to go down to northern Alabama, and he was going to endorse him on a stage.
And what Sessions told me, he said: “You don't understand, Steve.
This is—I'm never coming back from this.”
He says: “The establishment will come—they hate this guy so much that this will—
and although I'm kind of outside of this immigration and the trade stuff and I'm hammering them all the time,
this will be looked like as I'm a traitor.
And, you know, you don't come back from this.
So it's either we've got to win, or, you know, my political career is over.”
And I—I said, “We're going to win this.”
I said, “This is a huge endorsement.”
I think it was right before Super Tuesday.
So he was there from the very beginning.
And so I—we just came in, and I said: “I've got a question.
You were there from the beginning.
You saw the whole thing. You rode shotgun with me the entire time.”
I said, “Is there any doubt in your mind that this was divine providence that put us here, right; that this just didn't happen;
that this—something's worked here—because he's a very imperfect instrument, but we're here.
And what you're doing on immigration, what you're doing on counterterrorism, everything that you're doing,
the real work that you're doing”—which Sessions and Miller and these guys were on fire about getting stuff done;
the deconstruction of the administrative state, all of that,
all the real work that we would have never been able to do it unless we won.
And we won.
There was something that was there, and that's why we shocked everybody.
I said, “Is there any doubt in your mind?”
He goes, “No doubt.”
I said, “You're sure it's no doubt?”
He says, “No doubt.”
I said, “And you're never going to quit?”
He says, “I will never quit.”
I go, “No matter how bad it gets?”
He goes, “I'll never quit.”
I go, “Fine, I just wanted to make sure we're in sync, just make sure we're in sync.”
And that's why I knew he was going to hang in there.
And he had some very, very, very tough days.
It had to kill him when Trump let him go at the end of—maybe it was a relief.
Look, the president has got a certain house style.
And I tell guys, some guys I've known, they think they're friends with the president.
I said: “Look, he's not looking for—he's got friends. He's not looking for friends.
You're there to serve a function.
And the minute you think you're not serving that function, you're living in a different reality.
You're there to serve that function, and when he doesn't think that you're serving that function,
then it's time to go do something else.”
Look, I'm a huge Sessions guy.
I think if people, particularly conservatives, knew all the work that he was doing every day on immigration,
on securing the border, on our sovereignty, on that, they would appreciate him a lot more.
I think he's gotten really banged up.
But I think history is going to show Jeff Sessions in a pretty good light.
Do you want to take a little break for a minute?
I'm fine.
Everybody okay?
What time is it? I just want to make sure we've got time.
It's 2:35.
Fine. Let's just keep rolling.
I really appreciate your candor on this, Steve.
This is great from my point of view.
Let's talk a little bit about—so Ryan, right after the election, says:
“This is unified government. This is what unified government is.”
We made a film about this as well.
They thought they had a pin in Donald Trump.
They were going to do—he and Mitch were going to do whatever they needed to do and wanted to do.
And he made some promises, I think, over at the White House about the order of events and how they would go down.
The Faustian bargain we made—and it was, I think, a huge mistake—with 10 days to go, not the weekend before,
but the weekend before that, we are in North Carolina for the better part of the day.
I think we stopped [unintelligible] with Mark Meadows.
And Mark Meadows, who's the guy that took down John Boehner, right, when he did that in that August,
everybody mocked and ridiculed him, and eventually we got Boehner out.
It was started by Mark Meadows.
Meadows hands me a manila envelope, and he says, first off, he says, “You don't have to come back to North Carolina.”
North Carolina was the state I was most concerned about.
We had a very weak apparatus there.
The Republican Party's very disorganized.
And I go: “What are you talking about?
This is the one I think we got the least.”
And he says, “No.”
He says: “The evangelicals are turning things out.
We're going to win by a point and a half, and you're going to pull [Sen. Richard] Burr… — across the goal line, too.”
I go, “Come on.”
He says: “You don't have to come back. Trust me.”
Never went back.
He gives me this thing.
He says, “After we win”—because Meadows and his wife were with us on Billy Bush weekend.
She got on a bus with other House members and Christian wives
and toured North Carolina in a prescheduled thing on Billy Bush Saturday.
Billy Bush Saturday is the defining moment of who's with ya and who's agin' ya, OK?
Meadows and the wife are hard-core Trump, OK?
He tells me, “You don't have to come back,” and he gives me an envelope.
He says, “After we win on Wednesday, the 9th, I want to have a conversation with you,
because this is how we're taking Ryan out.”
I go—I'm tearing up. I want to hug the guy, right?
We win.
He's got a whole plan.
It's completely—it's let's have a group—it's the same thing as the victory speech: Let's have a group hug.
We're going to have a group hug.
Now, look, we did win by bringing the establishment in.
We wouldn't have won without them.
The first call I made when I was announced was to Reince Priebus.
Reince was a great partner.
But the decision was made.
We're not going to go after—we're not going to go after Ryan; we're going to keep him as speaker.
We have the whole ability to change it out right then.
We're going to work—
Who's making that decision?
What's driving that decision?
It's certainly not you.
No, no, no, absolutely.
I was all for: “What do you mean?
Let's take all these guys out.”
No, but it's—and listen, you've got to remember, being a surprise win, right, and let's say in that whole group,
Trump and myself were the only two that thought we were going to win, everybody else is in shock, right?
You've got 10 weeks to relieve the watch, right, when it's your responsibility.
We don't know—we've got the whole national security apparatus of the Republican Party is all “Never Trumpers.”
In fact, the core of the Never Trumpers was the national security.
So we had no national security guys we could pick from.
We don't know anybody, right?
It's one thing to talk about it; it's another thing to put it in the pages of Breitbart,
and another thing to have Bannon on his radio show yammering away.
It's a lot different when it's now looked at, and the whole thing—
remember, the next day, the stock market's going to drop 5,000 points; Trump doesn't know what he's doing;
the country's divided; you have a civil war; the whole stream on Fifth Avenue, people are down there cutting themselves.
It looks very different.
The Wall Street—everybody's going—you know, financial markets are going crazy.
Nobody anticipated this.
It's Donald Trump is president of the United States.
I think the president and others around him figured, let's have a unity thing with the Republican Party.
Let's make—so it empowered Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell to have the power they have.
That's the original—if it's an original sin of this administration,
vis-à-vis, I think, the swamp and the permanent political class, it is back to the Breitbart.
We can't get to the Democrats till we clean up our own mess.
We didn't—we basically made a Faustian bargain.
That's why Reince became chief of staff.
And I was fine with that. I said OK, fine.
There's so much to do. There's only so much you can fight.
This is going to happen.
We're not going to take Ryan down.
I had a long talk with Mark Meadows.
And it was a huge missed opportunity.
How did he react?
Understood. Understood.
He's a grownup?
He's an adult, yeah.
He definitely understood.
Said at the time, “We will rue the day we don't do this.”
I said, “I fully understand; I'm rueing with you.” But it is what it is.
This is—we're going to try to pull it together.
We're trying to work as a team.
And we're going to see how this thing—see how this thing plays out.
That was the first 24 hours, the first 24 hours that decision's made.
And many of the things from it—I think everything you need to know about Paul Ryan, he quit. He essentially quit.
He didn't want to defend the House.
He didn't want to go through the effort of having—because it was really going to be—
'18 was going to be a referendum on Trump's two years.
He didn't want to defend it. He didn't want to go around. So he didn't.
And he also, in case—he also didn't, if he stuck to it, he didn't want to campaign with Trump in '20.
That's pretty obvious to me.
He has a total distaste for the president, and he doesn't hide it very well. …
Let's talk about the repeal and replace of Obamacare.
We don't have to go into all the House shenanigans, but let's end it with McCain's thumb down and the President —
Well, something more important than that.
Remember, in the sequencing of repeal and replace, and that's where the establishment and Ryan says, "I got this."
Tom Price is the smartest guy in the history of Congress in this thing he's going to be the head of DHS.
We voted 50 times, 50 times, to repeal this.
This is something we own.
We know this better than anybody.
And it was evident in the first two weeks, as Trump kept pressing down and asking questions,
that the Republicans, the staff didn't have a solution…
When he [McCain] put that thumb down in the middle of the night? What did you guys think?
Well, it was out of nowhere.
Remember, earlier in the evening he was going to vote for it. Right?
It was purely a thing of vengeance…
So in April, in May, in June, with this in death spiral of the first Republican establishment,
and they're saying, “Hey, this is a great Faustian bargain we made.
We get all the deal baggage of the establishment and none of the upside.”
Here's why: they're totally and completely incompetent.
They're not ready to govern.
They're just not ready to govern…
But that's another ball that Ryan and these guys, after seven years of being so adamant that,
"Yeah, we've worked on this, we've got this," that thing evaporates in 90 days.
And the repeal and replace becomes a fiasco.
… So tell me, McConnell, the president really lets him have it after the Obamacare thing fails in the Senate.
… What's— what's up with McConnell from your point of view?
Is he the leader of the opposition party?
Where is he then and now?
Well, first off, he's—Look, there's nobody I've had bigger disagreements [with than] Mitch McConnell,
because to me he's the epitome of the establishment.
That being said, if you're a conservative, he essentially saved the country.
He fought for all those years and kept 140 federal judges, I mean, and the Supreme Court.
This was why the campaign was so important when I stepped in there.
The country's on the line.
Remember, the reason Merrick Garland is not in the Supreme Court
is because Hillary Clinton and these guys didn't think he was progressive enough; they were going to have their own pick.
He was too moderate. He was kind of like Obama. He's too moderate.
They want to send more progressives.
… If we had lost in '16, you're done for a generation.
They were going to fill those, the court system.
And then they had the courts, the legislator, legislative and the—that was the thing of reason I stepped in,
because it looked like Trump's potential death spiral could take down the— you know, we could lose the House.
You'd lose the Senate even more than you lost it.
And you clearly lose the executive.
And you lose the courts for a generation.
Mitch McConnell kept those 140 seats.
Remember, the key of this is Don McGahn and McConnell, the deconstruction of the administrative state.
That is the mantra of the Federalist Society, and that is the mantra of this thing about taking
this fourth [sic] branch of government that's kind of metastasized to be all-encompassing.
… That's, you know, that's what [Brett] Kavanaugh, that's what [Neil] Gorsuch,
that's what these guys are great theoreticians about this.
So that is a whole 'nother line of work that's probably the one legacy,
besides the confrontation of China, [Trump will] be known for, to completely redo the courts, right?
At both the appellate level and the district level.
And not just that. You may have four—
I think he'll have four picks on the Supreme Court in his fourth [sic] term, so it's monumental.
And Mitch McConnell brought that on.
And honestly, that is Mitch McConnell's—he's spending more time focused on that than he is on this other stuff.
So when you say Trump reads him the riot act, I never saw that.
I always saw a level of respect.
Disagreement, but respect there, too.
Mitch McConnell has, I've always thought, looked at Trump as somebody that's passing through town, right?
He's the majority leader.
He's a big institutionalist.
And he is looking at this fundamental change in the courts.
And so, no, I haven't seen him, you know, radically support the president.
I think he'll do more because he's up for reelection in '20,
so he doesn't want some Tea Party opposition or some populist like [Matt] Bevin did last time to try to go after him.
So no, but I haven't seen any.
But I haven't seen—Like on the emergency,
it's outrageous to me that 12 Republican senators voted against the president on his core issue.
Particularly when over half of those guys are either in the Senate because of Trump,
they pulled him across the finish line, like [Roy] Blunt (R-Mo.).
We've got to remember, at the end of the day, we gave Mitch McConnell his job.
Burr in North Carolina, Blunt in Missouri, [Pat] Toomey in Pennsylvania, a couple more were—
[Ron] Johnson in Wisconsin, they were four or five guys that were down that last week that all won.
That was another big surprise, to come across and to win that big win in the Senate.
So that was all Trump, 100 percent Trump, in this kind of populist movement.
And McConnell, to me, has not been a big support.
He's been in support of what he wants to support, right?
Tax cuts he wants to support.
The donor-driven tax cuts he wants to support, right?
If he wants to support, it gets done.
On the wall, they've had no interest in the wall.
So the wall, they just will—they'll just look,
you know, look the other way and now actually oppose the president, which he had to veto.
How much do you figure the list from the Federalist Society and Heritage Society
that was given to Trump in March helped him with conservatives, brought him across the finish line in lots of ways?
Remember, when I got in, as I said, we're going to focus on three things.
One, we're going to simplify this whole thing.
Eighty-eight days ago you're down by a bunch, OK?
We've got to simplify.
Number one, we're going to … stop mass illegal immigration
and limit legal immigration to get our sovereignty back and protect our workers.
That's one leg of the stool.
The second, bring back manufacturing jobs from China, OK?
They're going to get that in Ohio and Wisconsin and Michigan.
Number three, get out of these pointless foreign wars.
Those three.
Oh, and we're going to run Pence for governor of five of these states up in the Midwest.
We're going to always, every day, hit the evangelicals and Republican establishment
with the judges, with the judges, with the list.
And we expanded it another 10 to make it 20.
Remember, if you go back to the spring of 2016, within 30 days of each other, two lists come out.
The national security list slapped together by Corey Lewandowski, right,
that has all the problems with [George] Papadopoulos, all these other guys.
This list, because the whole national security apparatus is Never Trump.
They've got this collection, odds and ends—it's like the bar in Star Wars, right?
I call Corey, I go: “Dude, I know this space.
I haven't heard of half of these guys.
Who are these?”
He says: “Well, we had to get something out.
We're getting heat from the media for not having it.”
I said: “It's better not to put anything out than to put it out,
and now you've reaffirmed to everybody that you don't know anybody in national security, OK?
This is embarrassing.”
… That list, and then 30 days later the Federalist Society and Heritage come out
with those 10 [potential Supreme Court nominees], which is, hey, you may hate Trump, you may not trust him,
but it's got to be this 10.
We expanded to another 10, right?
That was a massive seller.
… One of the ways to close that gap was just hit every day, hit the list, the judges, the judges.
The judges are going to bring the Republican establishment back because they realize how fundamental this is and how—
and that was—so two lists within 30 days.
One causes nothing but problems, right?
The other is a solution.
And I don't think he'd be president without that list.
Whoever thought of the idea of it—I think it was McGahn and Leonard Leo—absolutely brilliant.
And then we expanded.
And McConnell.
And McConnell. Absolutely.
Look, McConnell on the judges is golden.
He will go down in history, in conservative history of literally changing the court system.
This is why we lost the '18 election.
Remember, the Republican establishment hasn't accepted Trump as the transformative president and historical figure.
It's the progressive—it's the Netroots Nation; it's the Time's Up movement; it's Tom Steyer; it's The Resistance.
They're the ones out in Iowa, in Iowa 1, knocking on doors in 90 percent humidity and heat in June and July. Why?
They understand that Donald Trump is going to be in their lives 10, 20 and 30 years from now.
It's a Kafkaesque nightmare.
This guy's never going away.
And the one way I've got to do it, I got to take the House of Representatives
because we're going to use that apparatus to weaponize Mueller and everything else,
and we're going to have this head on a pike.
That is where American politics is.
And God bless them, they did it.
You know how they did it?
They did it like the Tea Party.
They mobilized their forces.
They knocked—I kept telling them, we'd have conference calls right here in July, and I'm saying,
“Hey, you know, today in Iowa 1, they've had 500 people knocking on doors,
doing voter registration, handing out literature,
and trust me, in the last 60 days, they're going to be getting all those folks to vote.
And we're going to lose.
That's a House Freedom Caucus.
I think it was [Rod] Blum's district.
Blown out, right?
You could see these people working in the spring, in the early summer of '18
on exactly the things that the Tea Party had done—mobilization, getting people out.
The reason is? The courts and the deconstruction of the administrative state.
The progressive left understood that under the hood what was going on,
besides all the signal and the noise, they got the signal, and it couldn't have been stronger.
And they said, we've got to stop the signal.
You know, the noise is just Trump and the Twitter and all this other madness.
McConnell, as much as I detest him, delivered that.
And that's, I think, what he'll be known for,
this kind of Herculean effort not to roll over on Obama, to keep those 140 seats.
And then, it's one of the reasons we don't have any ambassadors.
Remember, only half the ambassadors we've put up have been—we went through the first two years.
They've all got to be re-nominated.
And the reason is, is all the time's been spent on the judges because they realize the judges are permanent,
and that's where the focus has been.
And I think he's done a magnificent job.
And this is where real fundamental—Trump will be known, I think, in hindsight, on China and the courts.
Where are you when you see it happening?
And do you—you've got the best divining rod of anybody in the West Wing at the time, and you were on your way out.
… So on Saturday, I'm actually having lunch with a member of the media in my office in EOB, my temporary office.
And he goes—and we're sitting there; we're just having a sandwich because I'm about to wrap up,
it was like my last couple days, and he goes—he goes, he said, “Man, this Charlottesville thing is really out of control.”
And I go, “What are you talking about?”
He goes, “The Charlottesville thing.”
And I go, “What do you”—and I look around.
And I got the thing with the four screens, and it's nonstop Charlottesville.
I go, “What's that?”
And he says, “You didn't see the march last night?”
I go, “No.”
I said, “I knew they were doing something about the Confederate monuments, but what's the big deal?”'
And he goes, “Man, you ought to get all over this.”
I look at it.
And I literally—he leaves; I call my guy at Breitbart, the editor,
because I'm about to come back in like in 48 hours, 72 hours, and I say, I said, “How many guys—?”
I said, “How many guys you have down there for the march last night?”
He goes, “Nobody.”
I go, “Are you covering this thing?”
He goes, “No.”
I said, “You've got to get a team.”
I said: “Get Raheem [Kassam], and get a team, and get as many people as you can in Washington, D.C.,
get them in a car and get down there.
This is the biggest”—I said, “Look at this thing; there's a riot down there.”
What did you see that lit you up?
What lit me up was people, you know—
I have been a big advocate of stopping these neo-Nazis and neo-Confederates and antifa and Black Lives Matter.
When they come to get it on, I think civil society—I think the police should shut it down immediately.
I am adamantly opposed to letting these guys march through towns, have the police, you know, hit—
that they're coming with billy clubs or coming—
they're all looking for a fight, and they're looking for a fight with each other.
I don't think we break any constitutional thing around freedom of speech by saying no.
You can come and march and do your thing, but you can't come looking for a fight.
If you're coming looking for a fight, that's going to be shut down.
And it looked to me like there was fights going on.
And then I got up to speed with what's going on, and this thing was huge.
In talking to the president the next day—and I think Trump—and this is where the mainstream media smeared him,
because he was very adamant about what he said, about the Confederate monuments.
He says there are very good people on both sides.
There are.
I come from Richmond, Virginia.
In the commonwealth of Virginia, there is a heated and active debate on about the Confederate monuments, all the battlefields,
everything, about cultural heritage, racism, all that, from two sets of people and voters.
Democrats and Republicans and Independents are having a—
In my city, Monument Avenue, they're having all these discussions about that.
There are good people on both sides.
I understand the people that want to keep the Confederate monuments,
and I understand the arguments of the people that want to them down.
There you do have people on both sides, and what Trump said is where does it end?
Does it end at the Washington Monument? Does it end at Mount Vernon?
They're now talking about Teddy Roosevelt and Christopher Columbus.
Where does this all end?
And what Trump was saying in regards to that debate, there are good people on both sides.
He's always condemned the neo-Confederates and everything like that.
What I did is I just talked to Gen. Kelly and said,
“Maybe I ought to stick around and see how thing plays out for a few days.”
He said: “Fine, you do what you want to do.
We're up in Bedminster; you're down at EOB.”
Did you know he'd put his foot in it?
I mean, independent of whether the press reacted or overreacted, when did you know—
I don't think he put his foot in it.
I don't think he put his foot in it.
I think the press took the—no, look, what he said: When it comes to the monuments, there are good people on both sides.
That's what he said, right?
“There are fine people on both sides.”
He understands what the argument is, and what the argument is is about the nation's history, and where does it end?
And that's where he said there's good people on both sides.
He immediately condemned—he's always condemned these neo-Confederates, KKK, the Klansmen.
But also, he also—and this is where the mainstream media looks the other way.
There is many bad dudes on antifa and Black Lives Matter, segments, not the whole groups,
just as bad as some of these neo-Confederates and neo-Nazis and stuff, because they're all looking for a fight.
I made a film about the Occupy movement, Occupy Unmasked, that Cuban's company picked up
and put in theaters that goes right to—the Occupy thing had these kids, you know, want to do “Kumbaya,”
but in back of these guys are professional anarchists and “bad hombres” coming looking for a fight.
So if you think this is—it's on both sides.
And that's where I think Trump's—I don't think he stepped in it.
I think it's 100%—I think he's 100% correct.
It's funny how he does that, and then he kind of tries to walk it back
in one of the most stilted performances I've seen him do,
and then he just can't help himself—
No, because this is why he gets—this is bad staffing.
This is where various elements in the White House, in the West Wing,
get in his ear about trying to get him to do something that is not in his wheelhouse, not in the way he rolls.
He then has the press conference, and the thing where he said it's kind of half in—
first of all, he has the thing at—in the—he flies back and has the thing in the Blue Room or whatever.
That is terrible, because you're not either fish nor fowl.
And you can tell, it's very stilted as he reads it. It's not Trump.
And he's going to reverse field on you after that.
That's why you can't—you can't do that.
Let Trump be Trump.
The nation voted for it. It is what it is.
It's just not—if you try to do it, it'll be phony, and everybody can smell the phoniness.
And that's why I think—and I think he was absolutely correct on this.
I think he just should have stuck to what he's sticking to.
There are good people on both sides when you talk about the greater discussion on the monuments
and our history and what those monuments mean.
Either it's culturally positive for the South, or it's culturally negative.
And that will be worked out by citizens at the ballot box, essentially, OK, which eventually it'll be worked out.
Was he…
These bad guys—first of all, the neo-Confederates, neo-Nazis, KKK have no place in American political life.
And to me, they're only blown up—what irks me, they're only made bigger.
It's like Richard Spencer comes here, and there's three guys marching with Richard Spencer, but there's 200 reporters.
The Guardian's got a whole team, and they're doing video.
They make them seem like they're nine feet tall.
They're not nine feet tall.
They're all losers; they're all deadbeats.
They don't add anything electively.
They're all morally corrupt.
Most of them are scam artists just in it to make money, OK?
It's another racket, right? It's a racket.
So they should be totally dismissed, and I think Trump's done a good job of that.
But these guys that make the antifa and make all the elements of Black Lives Matter,
there's some elements of Black Lives Matter are fine, but there's elements of that and almost all of antifa that are—
antifa is fascist, and they want to get it on.
They're just as bad as the neo-Confederates and the neo-Nazis and the KKK.
That's where I also think Trump's correct.
But you stuck around for a few days—
I stayed till the next Friday, I think.
—to clean it up, to help clean it up.
Well, I was going to—and I was the sounding board for him,
and then Gary [Cohn] and these other guys were going to resign.
And I kept saying, I told Kelly: “Either you've got to come out and either have his back or you're not—
make a decision. Don't play Hamlet.
Don't give me this thing, 'I want to resign; I'm going to resign,' and then leak it to the press.
It's in Politico every day. Come on.
There's virtue signaling on the staff that they're all—that they're, you know, they're so against it, and he's so bad.”
I said, “That's not the way it rolls.”
I said, “You've got to make a decision here and get rid of—
these guys either got to step up and say, 'I support him,' or resign.
It's fine. You'll find another guy at NEC.
Larry Kudlow's right there. He'll be in tomorrow.
It's no big deal. It's not the end of the world.
But you've got to make a decision.
But bleating it out every day in Politico—”
So by Friday, I said, “This thing's going to go on for a month, and I'm not sticking around for a month.
This is non-ending.”
So I talked to Kelly in the morning and said I'm going to blow out of here by—
I was actually—I was already out of the EOB; I'd already moved my stuff out.
I said, “I'm going to announce today.”
And he says, “Yeah, we can announce it, too.”
So I think they put out some tweet that was positive.
And by 5:00, I was on the conference call with the Breitbart editorial staff, and we were back to work.
When he says stuff like, “Yeah, he was important to me, but not really important;
he came late; we were already”—how does that feel, Steve?
It doesn't matter.
Look, if you go in to work for Trump to get a pat on the head, you're in the wrong line of work.
Look, I'm 63 years old.
I've been doing this for 10 years, working on this populist nationalist thing,
and God willing if I'm allowed, I'll be doing this 10 or 20 years in the future.
It's not—if you're looking for an “attaboy,” if you're looking for a guy who's going to sit there,
“Hey, Tiger, what a great job,” you're in the wrong line of work, and you're working for the wrong guy.
I do not care.
If he said I was the smartest, greatest thing that ever worked for him
or I was the biggest dog that ever worked for him, it doesn't matter.
What matters is the work, OK?
He won the presidency, OK?
On that weekend in August, it wasn't about the primaries; it wasn't everything.
It was about what the reality was then.
And he won, OK?
And there's no doubt, if I was not there on Billy Bush weekend, OK, he would have gone in a different direction, I think,
because the pressure was on him from everybody.
He had one guy who had his back that day, OK?
And in the White House, I think I did what I had to do.
I had his back on certain things.
On the outside, I'm the only guy—you know, I've been interviewed these last couple weeks.
I'm the only guy consistently, not for some sort of rah-rah, because none of my income depends on Donald Trump.
I don't need Donald Trump to go sell a book; I don't need Donald Trump to go get anything done.
I respect him and what he's trying to accomplish.
Remember, he didn't have to do this.
They've tried to destroy him, and they're going to go after to really destroy him, OK?
He was a billionaire buying, you know, open championship courses,
a lovely wife, a great family, enjoying life after you're 70 years old.
He didn't have to do this, OK?
He did it, I think, and I saw him up close, because he is a patriot, and he did it for the country.
And I'm very proud, and I will always be proud, of the fact that we beat the Clinton junta, OK?
I dedicated five years of my life to making sure that that group of mafiosos would not be in charge of this country,
and it gives me unlimited pleasure every day to think that when The New York Times does her obituary,
in the first paragraph, it's going “She was beaten by Donald Trump,” OK?
That is, to me, a great payoff; that she's not allowed, and the corrupt group of people around her,
were not allowed to get back into the—into the West Wing.
And I think Trump has done a tremendous job.
I think he is—I think the left gets this—he is a transformative president.
He is a historic figure.
Now, as I told him, you know, Lincoln, Jackson, Reagan, FDR, to get—
to be loved long term, you're going to have to go through a very dark valley, OK?
Reagan was at 83%, or 33% in August of '83.
Lincoln was losing the war up until he won it, right?
In 1864, he's going to lose by a landslide until they took Atlanta, right?
FDR, all those dark days in World War II and the Great Depression. Andrew Jackson.
If you look at all the great presidents that are beloved later in history, they all had to go all in on what they believed,
understand at the time you're going to be not that popular, there's going to be a lot of people.
You've got to be absolute in convictions.
You'll hit the inflection point because you're right, and this stuff is right.
If you want to just be popular like a lot of people around him want him just to be popular,
you're not going to accomplish anything.
You're going to end up like Bill Clinton.
You'll be kind of popular at the time and then forgotten to history, right?
So if you don't want to end up like that, if you want to end up like Reagan, you've got to stick to it.
I think he has stuck to it, to a large extent. I hope he sticks to it more. And I think he can.
And I think right now, if he can get through this grinder,
this gauntlet that's been thrown down because elections have consequences, he's got through this gauntlet of the House,
that I think that, you know, I think that he could be looking at even a bigger win in 2020.
It's too early to talk about 2020.
However, if he can get through the gauntlet, right, I haven't seen the person yet that's come out of the Democratic,
even the start of this thing, that can take him on, unless he's so wounded by the process that—that—and who knows?
The process is the process.
We don't know what it's going to entail.
It's all law of unintended consequences; that's all to come.
But I think he's pretty well positioned for 2020.
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America's Great Divide: Steve Bannon, 1st Interview | FRONTLINE

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Yeung-On Yu published on May 25, 2020
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