Steve Bannon, the current Trump campaign CEO who’s on leave from his position as the chairman of Breitbart News, reportedly told a staffer for the conservative news site in December that he wanted House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) “gone by spring.”
According to a report out Tuesday in The Hill, which obtained some of Bannon’s emails, Bannon has a well-documented grudge against the House Speaker. Ryan recently made an enemy of Trump again by saying he would no longer defend the Republican nominee after a leaked 2005 tape showed him bragging about groping women, but did not withdraw his endorsement.
According to one anonymous source quoted by The Hill, Bannon frequently referred to Ryan as “the enemy” on conference calls.
Bannon also said in a December 2015 email exchange that he wanted Ryan “gone by spring,” presumably referring to the speaker’s Republican primary challenge, which he won handily. He was responding to a proposal from Breitbart’s Washington editor, Matthew Boyle, that the publication reach out to Ryan for comment on an article about mental health, an issue Ryan was pushing in Congress.
Former Breitbart staffer Ben Shapiro told The Hill that Bannon “has always wanted to burn everything down,” adding, “any chance he has to wriggle this into a way to destroy Paul Ryan, he’ll absolutely do it.”
“Bannon has Alex Jones-level paranoia about Paul Ryan,” one anonymous source told The Hill. “He thinks Paul Ryan is part of a conspiracy with George Soros and Paul Singer, in which elitists want to bring one world government.”
Judging by Donald Trump’s tweets this week—he called Ryan a “weak and ineffective leader” and said he was wasting time “fighting the Republican nominee”—Bannon has been successful in that goal.
One tweet in particular, from Trump spokeswoman Katrina Pierson on Monday, seems to satisfy Bannon’s long-held desire for rebuking Ryan and “burning down” the Republican establishment.
“I can’t keep my phone charged due to the mass volume of texts from people all over the country who will #VoteTrump but ￼[down]ballot not so much,” she wrote.