Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon appears to have revealed a lot to 60 Minutes’ Charlie Rose about the inner workings of the Trump campaign and early months of his presidency during their conversation which will air on 60 Minutes this Sunday.
One revealing portion of the interview had to do with the notorious NBC Access Hollywood tape from 2005, which included audio of Trump talking with host Billy Bush about groping women. The Washington Post leaked the tape just weeks before the election. It sent Trump’s campaign in crisis mode, and cost Bush his job at NBC News.
But one member of the Trump team who didn’t go into crisis mode was Bannon. In fact, he was confident the American people wouldn’t flip out over the tape either.
Furthermore, he apparently used the “Billy Bush Saturday” as a “litmus test” of who would stand by the president and who wouldn’t.
Bannon revealed that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a supporter of Trump, didn’t get a gig in the administration because he didn’t stand by the president during that weekend.
“I told him, ‘The plane leaves at 11 o’clock in the morning. If you’re on the plane, you’re on the team.’ Didn’t make the plane,” Bannon said.
Here’s the transcript from that portion of the interview:
Bannon: And – and Trump went around the room and asked people the percentages he thought of – of still winning and what the recommendation. And Reince started off and Reince said, “You have – you have two choices. You either drop out right now, or you lose by the biggest landslide in American political history.” And Trump, with his humor goes, “That’s a great way – that’s a great way to start our – start our conversation.” We went around the room. And you could tell – I could tell from the incoming of politicians and I could tell from some of the politicians that were there, is that the natural inclination of politicians are – are – are to be so overwhelmingly stunned and shocked by how the media comes on you. But Trump wasn’t that. And I told him as he went around, I was the last guy to speak, and I said, “It’s 100 percent. You have 100 percent probability of winning.” And that’s the first time –
Rose: But you seem to have done that at every point in the campaign. When he was in trouble, asking him to double down on his rhetoric, double down in terms of appealing to his base.
Bannon: Appealing to the American people and to the working class people in this country, absolutely. You know why? ‘Cause – it was a winner. That’s why I told him “double down” every time. And on that day, that’s the first time and only time he ever got upset with me. He goes, “Come on, it’s not 100 percent.” I go, “It’s absolutely 100 percent.” And I told him why. “They don’t care.”
Rose: But they… they do care about respect for women. They do –
Bannon: They do, they do, but they –
Rose: I do know that.
Bannon: But they – but –
Rose: And it’s not just locker room talk. I mean –
Bannon: That’s locker room talk. The Billy Bush thing is locker room talk.
Rose: Did you lose confidence in anybody because they came to you at that point and said, “Look, he ought to get outta this race,” other than Reince Priebus? I mean, did your attitude towards those people who said that, they were just wrong?
Bannon: Absolutely. The Billy Bush Saturday to me is a litmus test. It’s a litmus test. And I said it the other day to [White House Chief of Staff] General [John] Kelly during the Charlottesville thing, afterwards. It’s a line I remember from the movie. “The Wild Bunch.” William Holden uses it right before that huge gunfight at the end. “When you side with a man, you side with him,” okay? The good and the bad. You can criticize him behind, but when you side with him, you have to side with him. And that’s what Billy Bush weekend showed me. Billy Bush Saturday showed me who really had Donald Trump’s back to play to his better angels. All you had to do, and what he did, was go out and continue to talk to the American people. … People didn’t care. They knew Donald Trump was just doing locker room talk with a guy. And they dismissed it. It had no lasting impact on the campaign. Yet, if you see the mainstream media that day, it was, literally, he was falling into Dante’s Inferno.
Rose: Boy, you took names on Billy Bush Sunday, didn’t you?
Bannon: I did. O – I gotta – I gotta – you know, I’m Irish. I gotta get my black book and I got ’em. … Christie, because of Billy Bush weekend – and – was – was – not looked at for a Cabinet position.
Rose: He wasn’t there for you on Billy Bush weekend so therefore he doesn’t get a Cabinet position?
Bannon: I told him, “The plane leaves at 11 o’clock in the morning. If you’re on the plane, you’re on the team.” Didn’t make the plane.