President Donald Trump on Monday said he would try to convince his former chief strategist Steve Bannon not to challenge certain congressional Republicans with primary opponents.
Bannon, who returned to running the far-right website Breitbart News after he left the White House in August, has also actively campaign for extremely conservative candidates, including by going after establishment Republican lawmakers with challengers to their right.
“Do you support the plan by people who previously served in your administration such as Steve Bannon to primary Republican candidates in the 2018 election who do not support your agenda?” One America News Network’s Trey Yingst asked Trump during a press availability following a lunch between the President and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).
“I have a very good relationship, as you know, with Steve Bannon,” Trump responded. “Steve has been a friend of mine for a long time. I like Steve a lot. Steve is doing what Steve thinks is the right thing.”
He continued: “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.”
Trump turned to the majority leader, standing to his left.
“What Mitch will tell you is maybe with the exception of a few, and that is a very small few, I have a fantastic relationship with the people in the Senate and with the people in Congress — or, House of Representatives,” he said, adding later: “I like and respect most of them and I think they like and respect me.”
“Just so you understand, the Republican Party is very, very unified.”