Current, Former WH Staffers Dodge Questions On Bannon’s Future

Alex Brandon/AP

 

One current and one former employee of President Donald Trump’s administration on Sunday dodged questions about whether chief White House strategist Steve Bannon has a future in the West Wing.

National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster ducked multiple questions on NBC News’ “Meet the Press” about whether he would be willing to work with Bannon.

“I get to work together with a broad range of talented people,” he said, and when pressed, added, “I am ready to work with anybody who will help advance the president’s agenda and advance the security, prosperity of the American people.”

“Do you believe Steve Bannon does that?” NBC News’ Chuck Todd asked.

“I believe that everyone who works in the White House, who has the privilege, the great privilege every day of serving their nation, should be motivated by that goal,” McMaster replied.

Anthony Scaramucci, who made headlines with a whirlwind 10-day tenure as White House communications director, appeared on ABC News’ “This Week,” where he constructed a portmanteau of Bannon’s name and Breitbart News, the conservative outlet he used to run, to more efficiently disparage Bannon’s influence on Trump.

“You’ve also got this sort of Bannonbart influence in there, which I think is a snag on the President. If the President really wants to execute that legislative agenda,” Scaramucci said, “then he has to move away from that sort of Bannonbart nonsense.”

“You mean Bannon and Breitbart, Steve Bannon,” ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos said.

“Oh yeah, that — the whole thing is nonsensical. It’s not serving the President’s interests. He’s got to move more into the mainstream,” Scaramucci said. “If he doesn’t do that, you’re going to see this inertia, and you’re going to see this resistance from more of the establishment senators that he needs to curry favor with.”

“You’ve been tough on Steve Bannon. Does he have to go?” Stephanopoulos asked.

“Well, I think the President knows what he’s going to do with Steve Bannon,” Scaramucci said.

“Which is what?” Stephanopoulos pressed.

“Well, let’s leave it up to the President,” Scaramucci said. “The President has a very good idea of the people that are undermining his agenda that are serving their own interests.”

He made a similar accusation against Bannon in July during an off-the-rails phone call to a New Yorker reporter: “I’m not trying to build my own brand off the fucking strength of the President,” Scaramucci said. “I’m not Steve Bannon, I’m not trying to suck my own cock.”

“It’s his decision, but I mean, at the end of the day I think the President has a very good idea of who the leakers are inside the White House,” he told Stephanopoulos. “I would prefer to let the President make the decisions that the President needs to make.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Esme Cribb is a newswriter for TPM in New York City. She can be found on Twitter @emquiry and reached by email at esme@talkingpointsmemo.com.

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