Collins: Bannon’s Attempt To Sideline McConnell ‘Completely Inappropriate’

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, speaks amid a crush of reporters after Republicans released their long-awaited bill to scuttle much of President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act, at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, June 22, 2017. She is one of four GOP senators to say they are opposed to it as written which could put the measure in immediate jeopardy.  (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) on Tuesday called the political machinations of former White House aide Steve Bannon “completely inappropriate.”

Bannon returned to the right-wing website Breitbart News after he left his post as the White House’s chief political strategist in August. He told Fox News’ Sean Hannity last week that he would seek to challenge every incumbent Republican senator’s reelection campaign — except Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) — and the leadership position of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). He said McConnell was part of an “establishment, globalist clique on Capitol Hill.”

MSNBC’s Chuck Todd asked Collins what she made of Bannon’s “attempts to try to create an atmosphere that would chase [McConnell] out of his leadership position?”

“I think what Steve Bannon is trying to do is completely inappropriate,” Collins responded. “And also inconceivable to me.”

“He’s not looking at how people vote on issues that matter to President Trump,” she said. “He’s looking at whether or not they support Mitch McConnell as majority leader. Mitch McConnell is key to President Trump’s ability to get tax reform through, for example. So I don’t understand Mr. Bannon’s approach. Obviously, he has the right to say or do whatever he wants.”

Collins added: “I certainly don’t think that it is at all constructive.”

Bannon’s ambitions have agitated the already sour relationship between Trump and McConnell. In an impromptu press conference Tuesday, Trump said of Bannon’s plans to replace Republican senators: “Some of the people that he may be looking at, I’m going to see if we talk him out of that because frankly, they’re great people.”

On Sunday, Collins — who announced Friday that she would stay in the Senate through at least 2020, forgoing a 2018 Maine gubernatorial bid — called Bannon’s rhetoric “exactly what the American people are tired of” and “not helpful.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Matt Shuham is a news writer for TPM. He was previously assistant editor of The National Memo and managing editor of the Harvard Political Review. He is available by email at mshuham@talkingpointsmemo.com and on Twitter @mattshuham.
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