Steve Bannon and Donald Trump’s fear of EU and China reveals a new global re-alignment according to ‘The Book of Putin’

LONDON—Steve Bannon plans to go toe-to-toe with George Soros and spark a right-wing revolution in Europe.

Bannon-War-on-China.jpg
Steve Bannon and Donald Trump’s fear of China, and affinity for Russia, reflect a long-sought civilizational re-alignment.

Trump’s former White House chief advisor told The Daily Beast that he is setting up a foundation in Europe called The Movement which he hopes will lead a right-wing populist revolt across the continent starting with the European Parliament elections next spring.

putin trump.jpg
Trump gifted Putin with his reputation for toughness, and that’s something he can’t easily take back. Photo: Mikhail Metzel/Mikhail Metzel/TASS

The non-profit will be a central source of polling, advice on messaging, data targeting, and think-tank research for a ragtag band of right-wingers who are surging all over Europe, in many cases without professional political structures or significant budgets.

Bannon’s ambition is for his organization ultimately to rival the impact of Soros’s Open Society, which has given away $32 billion to largely liberal causes since it was established in 1984.

Over the past year, Bannon has held talks with right-wing groups across the continent from Nigel Farage and members of Marine Le Pen’s Front National (recently renamed Rassemblement National) in the West, to Hungary’s Viktor Orban and the Polish populists in the East.

He envisions a right-wing “supergroup” within the European Parliament that could attract as many as a third of the lawmakers after next May’s Europe-wide elections. A united populist bloc of that size would have the ability to seriously disrupt parliamentary proceedings, potentially granting Bannon huge power within the populist movement.

After being forced out of the White House following internal wranglings that would later surface in the book Fire and Fury, Bannon is now reveling in the opportunity to plot his new European empire. “I’d rather reign in hell, than serve in heaven,” he said, paraphrasing John Milton’s Satan in Paradise Lost.

The Movement’s headquarters are expected to be located in Brussels, Belgium, where they will start hiring staff in coming months. It is expected that there will be fewer than 10 full-time staff ahead of the 2019 elections, with a polling expert, a communications person, an office manager and a researcher among the positions. The plan is to ramp that up to more like 25 people post-2019 if the project has been a success.

Steve Bannon
© Getty Steve Bannon

Bannon plans to spend 50 percent of his time in Europe—mostly in the field rather than the Brussels office—once the midterm elections in the U.S. are over in November.

The operation is also supposed to serve as a link between Europe’s right-wing movements and the pro-Trump Freedom Caucus in the U.S. This week Paul Gosar (R-AZ) was its envoy to Bannon’s operation in London.

Bannon and Raheem Kassam, a former Farage staffer and Breitbart editor, set up shop in a five-star Mayfair hotel for a week while Donald Trump was visiting Europe. Between TV appearances as Trump surrogates, they hosted a raft of Europe’s leading right-wingers at the hotel.

“It was so successful that we’re going to start staffing up,” said Bannon. “Everybody agrees that next May is hugely important, that this is the real first continent-wide face-off between populism and the party of Davos. This will be an enormously important moment for Europe.”

Having seen the shock right-wing victory with the Brexit referendum and Matteo Salvini’s electoral success in Italy, which were achieved on relatively tight budgets, Bannon sees the opportunity to boost radically disparate nationalist parties by deploying a well-financed centralized operation intended to blow local opponents out of the water.

Italy's Interior Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini greets supporters as he arrives for the annual meeting of Lega Nord (North League) in Pontida, northeast Milan, on July 1, 2018.
© MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP/Getty Images) Italy’s Interior Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini greets supporters as he arrives for the annual meeting of Lega Nord (North League) in Pontida, northeast Milan, on July 1, 2018.

Up until now insurgent populist groups across Europe have often suffered from similar problems: lack of expertise and finances. Le Pen’s party was kept afloat by Russian loans back in 2014, when French banks refused to extend lines of credit for the Front National. Le Pen was back in Moscow shaking Putin’s hand before last year’s French elections, which the NSA subsequently revealed had been hacked by the Russians.

The Movement plans to research and write detailed policy proposals that can be used by like-minded parties; commission pan-European or targeted polling; and share expertise in election war room methodology such as message discipline, data-led voter targeting and field operations. Depending on electoral law in individual countries, the foundation may be able to take part in some campaigns directly while bolstering other populist groups indirectly.

“I didn’t get the idea until Marine Le Pen invited me to speak at Lille at the Front National,” recalled Bannon. “I said, ‘What do you want me say?’”

The response came back: “All you have to say is, ‘We’re not alone.’”

Bannon was stunned to discover that the nationalist movements in Europe were not pooling skills and sharing ideas with populist parties in neighboring countries—let alone on a global scale.

Bannon said the Front National recognized that he was “the guy that goes round and understands us as a collective.”

Up on stage he told the crowd: “You fight for your country and they call you racist. But the days when those kind of insults work is over. The establishment media are the dogs of the system. Every day, we become stronger and they become weaker. Let them call you racists, xenophobes or whatever else, wear these like a medal.”

The former Trump campaign manager believes the fuse for the global populist revolt—now led from Washington, D.C. by his former boss—was lit 10 years ago during the financial crisis and President Barack Obama’s bailout of the broken financial sector. With income inequality growing, Bannon first championed Sarah Palin and then Donald Trump as vanquishers of the establishment elite who were capable of turning traditional politics on its head.

His next populist heroes can be found in Europe.

He sees Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, as the perfect foil to help accelerate that dynamic in Europe.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel gives a speech at the Bundestag (lower house of parliament) on June 28, 2018 in Berlin.
© JOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP/Getty Images German Chancellor Angela Merkel gives a speech at the Bundestag (lower house of parliament) on June 28, 2018 in Berlin.

Noting Trump’s controversial decision to call out Merkel over her gas pipeline deal with Russia last week, Bannon said: “This is the lie of Angela Merkel. She’s a complete and total phony. The elites say Trump is disruptive but she’s sold out control to Russia for cheaper energy prices.”

He describes Merkel and Emmanuel Macron, the French president who crushed Le Pen in a runoff election last year but has since flagged in the polls, as vulnerable figureheads of establishment Europe. With Britain voting to quit the E.U., Merkel and Macron’s vision of a united continent will be put to the test at next year’s elections.

Bannon is convinced that the coming years will see a drastic break from decades of European integration. “Right-wing populist nationalism is what will happen. That’s what will govern,” he told The Daily Beast. “You’re going to have individual nation states with their own identities, their own borders.”

The grassroots movements are already in place waiting for someone to maximize their potential. “It will be instantaneous—as soon as we flip the switch,” he said.

The sight of Brexit virtually upending the entire European Union with a campaign spending cap of £7 million ($9 million) was a great inspiration. “When they told me the spending cap was £7 million, I go, ‘You mean £70 million? What the f***?!’ £7 million doesn’t buy anything. It doesn’t buy you Facebook data, it doesn’t buy you ads, it doesn’t do anything.”

“Dude! You just took the fifth largest economy in the world out of the EU for £7 million!”

This week, British officials ruled that the Brexit campaign had not stuck to the legal limit—overspending by more than $600,000. There were also unofficial campaigns which spent additional millions arguing that Britain should leave the E.U.

Nonetheless, Britain’s GDP is around $2.6 billion and leaked government figures estimate that Brexit could wipe 10 percent off that figure, meaning the impact of the democratic decision vastly dwarfs the scale of the investment by the campaign.

“The first thing they teach you at Harvard Business School is operating leverage,” said Bannon. With his expertise, contacts and financial backing, he is convinced that he can have an outsized impact all across Europe.

Bannon went to Italy to observe the campaign earlier this year as populist parties surged in the polls despite their tiny operations. “Look at Five Star and the Northern League,” he said. “They used their own credit cards. They took control of the seventh largest economy in the world—on their credit cards! It’s insane.”

The two anti-establishment parties reached a coalition agreement that made Matteo Salvini deputy prime minister and put him in charge of the interior ministry two months ago. He has since shut Italy’s ports to NGO ships carrying rescued migrants and called for a census of the Roma community that may lead to mass deportations. Last year, he called for a radical crackdown on immigrants. “We need a mass cleansing, street by street, piazza by piazza, neighborhood by neighborhood,” he said.

Bannon sees Salvini as a model for his future Movement partners to follow. “Italy is the beating heart of modern politics,” he said. “If it works there it can work everywhere.”

He admitted that the scale of his right-wing coalition could be limited by the extreme positions of some of The Movement’s potential partners. “Some people may opt out because they think some of the guys may be too immigrant focused,” he conceded.

“We’re not looking to include any ethno-nationalist parties in this although guys like the Sweden Democrats or the True Finns are perfect casting.”

Kent Ekeroth of the Sweden Democrats was one of those who met Bannon in Central London in the last week. The party, which had its roots in the Neo-Nazi and white supremacist movements of the 1980s, has shot up to almost 20 percent in recent polls after adopting a more conventionally populist, anti-immigration message.

Jérôme Rivière of Marine Le Pen’s Front National (Rassemblement National since June) also made the pilgrimage to London’s Mayfair, as did Mischaël Modrikamen of the People’s Party of Belgium, Nigel Farage of UKIP and Filip Dewinter of Vlaams Belang, a Flemish nationalist party formed in 2004 when its predecessor was found to be in breach of a Belgian law on racism and xenophobia.

Bannon said Farage and Le Pen would take the lead in figuring out the logistics of creating a new European parliamentary grouping that could be home to all of these parties and more.

Gosar, the Republican congressman, also stopped by Bannon’s London hotel. He was in Britain to attend a rally for the street protester and alt-right provocateur Tommy Robinson, who was recently jailed for contempt of court for breaching reporting restrictions on a trial. During his trip, Gosar accused the British government of jailing Robinson as part of a cover up of rapeperpetrated by “disgusting and depraved individuals” from Muslim immigrant communities, which he described as a “scourge.”

Supporters of Tommy Robinson during their protest in Trafalgar Square, London calling for his release from prison.
© PA Supporters of Tommy Robinson during their protest in Trafalgar Square, London calling for his release from prison.

Bannon’s ambition is no less than to take a stranglehold on Europe in the same way that he believes Soros has been able to dominate proceedings in recent decades.

“Soros is brilliant,” he said. “He’s evil but he’s brilliant.”

George Soros in 2013© PA George Soros in 2013

Bannon wants to fulfil that role on the right and he is not ashamed to assert his objectives. “I’m about winning. I’m about power,” he said. “I want to win and then I want to effectuate change.”

He is not afraid of being caricatured in the way that Soros has been vilified by the right. He compared it to the fallout from the Cambridge Analytica scandal. “Look at Chris Wylie [the Cambridge Analytica whistleblower]. He is saying ‘Bannon made psychological weapons.’ He’s literally made me the most brilliant evil genius. I’m a Bond villain. I kind of dig it.”

Kassam, who worked closely with Bannon at Breitbart and followed him out the door of the populist news site, said The Movement was shaping up as a force that would subsume national politics.

“Forget your Merkels,” said Kassam. “Soros and Bannon are going to be the two biggest players in European politics for years to come.”

Trump says he holds Putin responsible for election interference

By Crimson Tazvinzwa
The US president has again caused confusion over his stance on Russia after appearing to say he believed Moscow was no longer targeting the US.
Speaking to reporters during a cabinet meeting on Wednesday, Donald Trump answered “no” when asked if the US was still being targeted by Russia, a belief that would put him at odds with his intelligence chiefs.But White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said hours later that she had talked with the president and he had instead been saying “no” to taking further questions from reporters.

US Press Secretary Sarah Sanders at the White House press conference at the White House
© getty US Press Secretary Sarah Sanders at the White House press conference at the White House

When asked if she was reversing what the president had said, she answered: “I’m interpreting it, not reversing it.”

It comes a day after Mr Trump backtracked on comments he madeabout whether he believed Russia had been responsible for alleged meddling in the 2016 US election.

The billionaire had said during Monday’s news conference with Vladimir Putin that he “didn’t see any reason” why Russia would be involved in US election meddling and that, despite his “great confidence” in his intelligence agencies, Mr Putin had given an “extremely strong and powerful” denial.

U.S. President Donald Trump, left, and Russian President Vladimir Putin pose for a photograph at the beginning of a one-on-one meeting at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki, Finland, Monday, July 16, 2018
© getty U.S. President Donald Trump, left, and Russian President Vladimir Putin pose for a photograph at the beginning of a one-on-one meeting at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki, Finland, Monday, July 16, 2018
By Crimson Tazvinzwa
Almost as soon as the words were spoken, journalists, political commentators and politicians expressed bemusement and anger, with former CIA director John Brennan going as far as to describe the remarks as “treasonous”.
On Tuesday, Mr Trump claimed he had mis-spoke the day before and had meant to say he did not see any reason why Russian wouldn’tbe responsible for interfering in the 2016 vote.He admitted “there’s a need for some clarification”, adding that what he meant “should have been obvious – I thought it would be obvious but would like to clarify in case it wasn’t”.

U.S. President Donald Trump, left, and Russian President Vladimir Putin shake hand at the beginning of a meeting at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki, Finland, Monday, July 16, 2018
© getty U.S. President Donald Trump, left, and Russian President Vladimir Putin shake hand at the beginning of a meeting at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki, Finland, Monday, July 16, 2018

He said: “In a key sentence in my remarks I said the word ‘would’ instead of ‘wouldn’t’.”

Hitting back at claims he had taken a soft position on Moscow, Mr Trump said on Wednesday that “no president ever as tough as I have been on Russia”.

Citing US sanctions on Russia and the expulsion of alleged Russian spies from the US, he added that Russian leader Vladimir Putin “understands it, and he’s not happy about it”.

Last week, national intelligence director Dan Coats said that warning lights about overall cyber threats to the US were “blinking red”, much like “blinking red” signals warned before the 9/11 attacks.

Donald Trump: ‘British people like me a lot. The police build barriers to stop me getting mobbed’

I’d like to start by thanking myself bigly for finding the time to talk to you at this press conference. As many of you will know, the president of the United States of America is a very busy man. Possibly the busiest man in the world. And no president has ever been busier than me. I am the busiest. So I’m sure you’d like to join me in thanking me for making time in my schedule for you.

When I said yesterday Nato was a waste of space and I couldn’t wait to leave, that was fake news. I don’t know why the media always choose to report me accurately but they do. I’m telling you now that Nato is a great place. One of the very best places I’ve ever visited. I like it a lot. A lotly a lot. I’ve got a lot of properties in Nato. More properties than any other person in the world. You should come and stay in them some time. You really should. And the Natians are some of the nicest people I’ve ever met. The very nicest.

But I’m telling you this and I need you to hear me. Some of the Natians haven’t been paying their fair share. And that’s got to stop right now. So that’s what I told them. I said, if you don’t pay your fair share then you aren’t paying your fair share. And yes, we had some tough talks about that. Some of the toughest talks of all time.

But we got there in the end, with the Natians agreeing to pay what they had already agreed to pay. No one bargains tougher than me. No one.

So Nato is now a lot safer and a lot stronger than when I arrived here a couple of days ago. It was amazing to see the spirit in the room. And I guess that’s down to me. Everyone here in Natoland has personally thanked me. That’s a fact. A factly fact. Each Natian has made a point of coming up to me to say thank you. They thanked me a lot for being a very stable genius.

They said: “Thank you, Mr President, you can leave now.” Even Mr Stoltenburger – I’ve never eaten one of those – thanked me as he showed me the door. That was a joke by the way. I like to make jokes. I make a lot of jokes. I really do. You should ask Pierce Morgan. He says I’m the funniest guy he’s ever met.

My next stop is Britain, England. I’m going to a lot of pretty hotspots on this European trip. But that’s what the president does. He goes to hotspots. And I make no bones about it, hotspots don’t get hotter than Blenheim Palace and Windsor Castle. There’s a lot of very bad people in those places. Worse even than Afghanistanistan.

But America makes the best weapons in the world. We really do. The very best. No one makes better weapons than America. You should buy some of them. We’ve got planes that can do incredible things. Things you wouldn’t believe. Just like in the cartoons. Have you watched Fox News? So I can look after myself if the environment gets too hostile. I’m not worried. Nothing worries me. I sleep very well at night. Better than any other president. I take my memory foam mattress everywhere. Helps with my dementia. Not that I have it.

I think the British people like me a lot. They like me so much the police have had to build barriers everywhere I go to stop me being mobbed by my fans. And I’m really looking forward to getting out and seeing a bit of the country and not meeting anyone. I love not meeting people. Hugely.

What’s that about heartbreak? Oh, you said hard Brexit. I thought you said heartbreak. I’ve had heartbreak. Though not so much recently. I guess Brexit means Brexit though I haven’t really given it much thought. Then no one in Britain, Europe, has either. Just make sure you’ve got enough cages for the kids and it’ll be fine.

So yeah, I reckon the first two days of my UK trip are going to be a bit dull. Just lunch and a few castles. But then I get to go up to my golf course in Turnberry, Scotland, England. I’ve got a lot of golf courses. No president has ever had more golf courses.

And mine are the best. The absolute best. It’s going to be great putting my feet up before I go off to see Vladimir Putin. He’s a great guy. A lot of people misunderstand him. He’s a competitor not an enemy. We get on really well and I’m telling you he can’t wait to hear what I’ve got to say about you Natians.

Thanks so much for my time. It was your pleasure.

Donald Trumps low-profile Tory rebels

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May leaves 10 Downing Street in central London after attending the weekly cabinet meeting on July 10, 2018. (Photo by Isabel INFANTES / AFP)        (Photo credit should read ISABEL INFANTES/AFP/Getty Images) © Getty Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May leaves 10 Downing Street in central London after attending the weekly cabinet meeting on July 10, 2018. (Photo by Isabel INFANTES / AFP) (Photo credit should read ISABEL INFANTES/AFP/Getty Images)

Theresa May was no doubt expecting a few more low-profile resignations and no-confidence demands amid the fallout of the Boris Johnson and David Davis bombshells.

But she won’t have been expecting President Trump to lob not one, not two, but three Exocet missiles timed to explode on the eve of a NATO summit and ahead of his visit to the UK.

He said the UK was in “turmoil”, that meeting Vladimir Putin would be “easier” than the NATO summit or his UK visit and that he might speak to his “friend” Boris Johnson while he’s here.

According to No 10, the president was being humorous in his Putin remark

Trump-Putin summit makes US a ‘less reliable’ partner to its Western allies, former UK official says

As US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin prepare to meet in Helsinki, Finland in two weeks, a former top UK government official said their summit could further strain the United States’ relationship with its Western allies.

trump putin.jpg
Trump-Putin summit makes US a ‘less reliable’ partner to its Western allies, former UK official says

“It makes the US a less reliable partner for Western countries like my own,” former UK Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne told CNN’s Fareed Zakaria on Sunday.

Osborne, now the editor of the Evening Standard, appeared on “Fareed Zakaria GPS” with Alistair Campbell, Tony Blair’s ex press maven, where the two men weighed in on the relationship between the US and Russia and what it means for the Western alliance.
Zakaria noted that the location of the Trump-Putin meeting is “an interesting choice,” given that the historic Helsinki Accords was signed there. That 1975 agreement was reached by the United States, Canada, and almost every European country to solidify the post-World War II order in Europe and reduce tensions between the Western and Soviet blocs.
“Of course, the atmospherics drives the media agenda, all of which points to a sort of disintegration of Western unity,” Osborne said.
He added that there were some “bigger trends” happening before Trump took office, noting that “America was withdrawing a bit from the world before Trump arrived.”
“There are new rising powers like, of course, China and a more resurgent Russia. And so how much is the froth of Trump’s Twitter feed, and how much is big macro forces happening in the world, I think is debatable. The one thing I’d say is Trump’s not doing anything to counter those forces; he is accelerating them,” he said.
Campbell, a writer and strategist who was former Prime Minister Tony Blair’s communications director, said he believes that Trump is “jealous” of Putin.
“I think he does believe in the strongman view of leadership. I don’t think he does like institutions. I think it’s about him, and he’s a narcissist, it’s all about him. And I think he looks at Putin, he thinks there’s a guy who controls his own parliament, doesn’t have dissent, controls his media, basically has far more power than the size of his country and his economy might indicate, and he wants to be like that,” Campbell told Zakaria.
“Added to which, I think Putin gets away with a lot more and I think Trump would like to get away with a lot more. So I think he … thinks, all these international bodies, ‘They’re a check on me,'” he said.
Trump’s unprecedented approach to Russia has stirred discord among European leaders who want to isolate Putin, Osborne argued.
“Alastair and I both worked in Downing Street, and you had a pretty good idea that the United States president had your back. He wasn’t always going to agree with what Britain or France or whatever wanted, but you knew ultimately you were close allies and friends,” he told Zakaria.
“I think the problem for any European leader is (that) you just don’t know what the response is going to be when you need America’s help,” he said.

Mike Pence: Trump, Putin expected to discuss election meddling

mike pence

The US President Donald Trump and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin are expected to discuss a broad range of issues, said the US Vice President Mike Pence.

“There are a broad range of issues the president’s going to talk about that need to be addressed,” Bloomberg reported quoting Pence.

The issues include “the economic relationship with the United States and Russia and  countries of the world”, the Vice President said adding that they will discuss alleged Russian interference in the US 2016 elections.

According to him, the US President also plans to discuss Russian military invasion in Syria and Ukraine.