Thursday, January 4, 2018

Dr. Eowyn: Steve Bannon turns against President Trump, calls him ‘treasonous’

There really are neither friends nor dependable allies in politics.

On August 7, 2017, Steve Bannon resigned as President Trump’s White House Chief Strategist and returned to Breitbart News as its executive chairman

At the time, Bannon’s departure was described as unacrimonious. While The New York Times, quoting two anonymous “administration officials,” alluded to infighting (“confrontation within” Trump’s “inner circle”) as the reason for the resignation (or dismissal) of “the embattled White House chief strategist who helped Mr. Trump win the 2016 election,” Bannon himself told author Joshua Green:
“If there’s any confusion out there, let me clear it up: I’m leaving the White House and going to war for Trump against his opponents — on Capitol Hill, in the media, and in corporate America.”
Five months after his departure, Bannon has done an about face.

Et tu, Bannon?

David Smith reports for The Guardian, Jan. 3, 2018, that according to “an explosive new book seen by the Guardian” — Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House — Bannon told Wolff that:
  • The Trump Tower meeting between Trump’s oldest son Donald Trump Jr., son-in-law Jared Kushner, then campaign chairman Paul Manafort, and a group of Russians including lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya was “treasonous” and “unpatriotic”. A trusted intermediary had promised documents that would “incriminate” rival Hillary Clinton. Instead of alerting the FBI to a potential assault on American democracy by a foreign power, Trump Jr. replied in an email: “I love it.”
  • The investigation into Trump’s alleged collusion with the Kremlin will focus on money laundering.
  • “They’re going to crack Don Junior like an egg on national TV.”
On the Trump Tower meeting, Bannon remarked mockingly:
“The three senior guys in the campaign thought it was a good idea to meet with a foreign government inside Trump Tower in the conference room on the 25th floor – with no lawyers. They didn’t have any lawyers. Even if you thought that this was not treasonous, or unpatriotic, or bad shit, and I happen to think it’s all of that, you should have called the FBI immediately.”
If any such meeting had to take place, it should have been set up “in a Holiday Inn in Manchester, New Hampshire, with your lawyers who meet with these people” so that any information could then be “dump[ed] … down to Breitbart or something like that, or maybe some other more legitimate publication. You never see it, you never know it, because you don’t need to … But that’s the brain trust that they had.”
Bannon maintained that Donald Trump must have known about the meeting: “The chance that Don Jr did not walk these jumos up to his father’s office on the twenty-sixth floor is zero.” That, of course, would mean that Bannon is also calling President Trump “treasonous” and “unpatriotic”.

It should be noted that:

  1. The FBI has thoroughly investigated the Trump Tower meeting and no evidence of wrongdoing was ever found, notwithstanding Bannon’s characterization of “treasonous” and “unpatriotic”.
  2. While calling Trump Jr.’s meeting with Russians to get dirt on Hillary Clinton “treasonous” and “unpatriotic,” Bannon manages to ignore:
President Trump’s reaction to Bannon’s betrayal was swift:

(1) He fired off a tweet, calling Bannon a self-aggrandizing political charlatan who has “lost his mind”.

(2) In a lengthy statement issued yesterday afternoon, Trump blamed Bannon for everything from leaks to the news media to the upset GOP loss in last month’s Senate race in Alabama, and cast Bannon as a disgruntled former staffer whose chief goal is to stir up trouble:
“Steve Bannon has nothing to do with me or my Presidency. When he was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind. Steve had very little to do with our historic victory, which was delivered by the forgotten men and women of this country. Steve pretends to be at war with the media, which he calls the opposition party, yet he spent his time at the White House leaking false information to the media to make himself seem far more important than he was. It is the only thing he does well. Steve was rarely in a one-on-one meeting with me and only pretends to have had influence to fool a few people with no access and no clue, whom he helped write phony books.”
(3) Trump’s lawyers sent a cease-and-desist letter to Bannon, saying he violated the employment agreement he had signed with the Trump Organization and likely defamed the president. Bannon is ordered to stop communicating confidential and/or disparaging information, and preserve all records in preparation for “imminent” legal action. The letter, from attorney Charles Harder, states:
“You have breached the Agreement by, among other things, communicating with author Michael Wolff about Mr. Trump, his family members, and the Company, disclosing Confidential Information to Mr. Wolff, and making disparaging statements and in some cases outright defamatory statements to Mr. Wolff about Mr. Trump, his family members, and the Company.”
Ivan Pentchoukov reports for The Epoch Times, Jan. 3, 2017, that “A large number of Breitbart News readers slammed the site’s executive chairman, Steve Bannonon Wednesday as controversy swirled around critical comments Bannon made about President Donald Trump and his campaign team in a recently published book.” 

The brief article quoting The Guardian‘s report on Wolff’s book generated more than 12,000 comments in four hours as Breitbart readers weighed in.

Here’s a sample of Breitbart readers’ comments that are critical of Breitbart Executive Chairman Steve Bannon:
“I voted for Trump… I didn’t vote for Bannon. I’ll stick with Trump, thanks.”
“I’ve just about had enough of Bannon and his games. He’s a psychotic fool. I’m done with this site.”
“I kept telling people Bannon was on an ego trip a dangerous back stabber. Family never talks to strangers. Screw you Bannon.”
“Stupid move by Steve and he needs to walk back or he and Trump are done. CNN already has this as breaking news and you can bet other liberal outlets will beat this to death. Why Steve?”
“What a cowardly way to get revenge – Bannon had better speak out NOW.”
“I wonder what’s wrong with Bannon? I used to admire the dude, but if this is true, no more.”
At a minimum, Steve Bannon calling Trump Jr. — and by implication President Trump himself — “treasonous” and “unpatriotic” can benefit only Democrats, RINOs and “never Trumpers”. So much for Bannon’s vow last August that in leaving the White House, he will be “going to war for Trump against his opponents”.


(1) Trump’s lawyers are seeking to block Michael Wolff's book, Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, from being published next week. Attorney Charles Harder sent a cease-and-desist letter to Wolff and his publisher Henry Holt and Co., demanding that they “immediately cease and desist from any further publication, release or dissemination of the book” or excerpts and summaries of its contents, and​ to inform them that they are looking at possible libel charges in connection to the book. (New York Post)

(2) Author Michael Wolff is known for inventing and changing quotes. (InfoWars)
(3) Rush Limbaugh said this morning that:

  • He’s heard from “unassailable sources” that when Steven Bannon was in the White House, he leaked information to the media — which confirms what President Trump said in his statement (see above).
  • Some of what Wolff wrote about certain people contradicts what Limbaugh knows, e.g., that Bannon was allied with the late Roger Ailes.
(4) Today, Drudge Report tweeted a picture of Bannon smiling with his new “billionaire benefactor, Miles Kwok, aka Guo Wen Gui”. Reportedly, Bannon’s former patron, billionaire Rebekah Mercer, has withdrawn her financial support of Breitbart News because of the recent string of damaging reports about Bannon.
See also:

Philip M. Giraldi: Expect Even Less Freedom of Internet in 2018

Users of social media have been increasingly reporting that their accounts have been either censored, blocked or suspended during the past year. Initially, some believed that the incidents might be technical in nature, with overloaded servers struggling to keep up with the large and growing number of accounts, but it eventually emerged that the interference was deliberate and was focused on individuals and groups that were involved in political or social activities considered to be controversial.

At the end of last year a number of Russian accounts on Facebook and elsewhere were suspended over the allegations that social media had been used to spread so-called false news that had possibly materially affected the 2016 presidential election in the United States. Even though it proved impossible to demonstrate that the relatively innocuous Russian efforts had any impact in comparison to the huge investment in advertising and propaganda engaged in by the two major parties, social media quickly responded to the negative publicity.

Now it has been learned that major social media and internet service providers have, throughout the past year, been meeting secretly with the United States and Israeli governments to remove content as well as ban account holders from their sites. The United States and Israel have no legal right to tell private companies what to do but it is clearly understood that the two governments can make things very difficult for those service providers that do not fall in line. Israel has threatened to limit access to sites like Facebook or to ban it altogether while the U.S. Justice Department can use terrorist legislation, even if implausible, to force compliance. Washington recently forced Facebook to cancel the account of the Chechen Republic’s leader Ramzan Kadyrov, a Putin loyalist that the White House has recently “sanctioned.”

Israel is not surprisingly most active in patrolling the Internet as it is keen to keep out any material sympathetic to the Palestinian cause or critical of Israeli treatment of Arabs. Its security services scan the stories being surfaced and go to the service providers to ask that material be deleted or blocked based on the questionable proposition that it constitutes “incitement” to violence. Facebook reportedly cooperates 95% of the time to delete material or shut down accounts. Palestinian groups, which use social networking on the internet to communicate, have been especially hard hit, with ten leading administrators’ accounts being removed in 2017. Israeli accounts including material threatening to kill Arabs are not censored.

Microsoft, Google, YouTube, Twitter and Facebook are all also under pressure to cooperate with pro-Israel private groups in the United States, to include the powerful Anti-Defamation League (ADL). The ADL seeks “to engineer new solutions to stop cyberhate” by blocking “hate language,” which includes any criticism of Israel that might even implausibly be construed as anti-Semitism. Expanding restrictions on what is being defined as “hate speech” will undoubtedly become common in social media and more generally all across the internet in 2018.

The internet, widely seen as a highway where everyone could communicate and share ideas freely, is actually a toll road that is increasingly managed by a group of very large corporations that, when acting in unison, control what is seen and not seen. Search engines already are set up to prioritize information from paid “sponsors,” which come up prominently but often have nothing to do with what material is most relevant. And the role of intrusive governments in dictating to Facebook and other sites who will be heard and who will be silenced should also be troubling, as it means that information that would benefit the public might never be seen, particularly if it is embarrassing to powerful interests. And speaking of powerful interests, groups like the ADL with partisan agendas will undoubtedly be able to dictate norms of behavior to the service providers, leading to still more loss of content and relevancy for those who are looking for information.

All things considered, the year 2018 will be a rough one for those who are struggling to maintain the internet as a source ofrelatively free information. Governments and interest groups have seen the threat posed by such liberty and are reacting to it. They will do their best to bring it under control.