Even on the outs, former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon hints he has the inside scoop. That includes information on the US strategy to win the trade war with China, the Mueller investigation and the 2020 presidential election.
Appearing at Yahoo Finance’s All Markets Summit: America’s Financial Future, Bannon hinted at upcoming changes in President Donald Trump’s cabinet as well as White House staff without saying who might get sacked.
“I don’t want to talk about my conversations with the president,” he said when asked if he spoke regularly with the president.
A source close to the administration told Yahoo Finance that President Trump is still angry with Bannon, who he fired in August 2017. At the time, President Trump said Bannon had nothing to do with his Presidency, adding, “…when he was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind.” But the same source who says the president holds a grudge, also says that Bannon speaks regularly with key administration officials like National Security Advisor John Bolton and trade advisor Peter Navarro.
“I do everything through lawyers except if there’s guys at the White House I know,” Bannon said.
And what Bannon knows may be the end game for the China trade war: ending the forced transfer of technology from US to Chinese businesses as well as opening China’s markets to American businesses.
A recent speech by Chinese President XI Jinping, in which he said the Chinese may have to return to self-reliance to grow China’s technology sector, may be a kind of “who blinked first?” in the trade tiff according to Bannon. “We have to go back to self-reliance. Why? The west is now stopping the intellectual property theft but more importantly stopping the forced technology transfers” and protecting America’s tech sector, which Bannon says will lead to more jobs for US citizens.
Bannon insists the Trump trade agenda aligns with his philosophy of economic nationalism, protecting the existing jobs of middle class and low-income workers while creating new manufacturing jobs so they can climb the economic ladder.
“The core of economic nationalism is we can’t be a great nation and serve our citizens particularly the working class with service jobs. It just doesn’t work,” he said.
The Trump agenda faces a few hurdles including a House of Representatives controlled by Democrats and the ongoing Mueller investigation. Bannon expects it to conclude later this month or in early December. But it will be just the start of new political headaches for the administration when the 116th Congress convenes in January.
Bannon expects potential Democratic candidates vying for their party’s nomination will force Donald Trump even further to the right. He also predicts Michael Bloomberg will attempt to find a more moderate conservative to also run for president. Bannon suspects that will embolden Democrats to think they can win the White House in 2020.
“They’re gonna look at this election as the election of 1860 where you’re gonna have two sides on the right,” he said. “They’re gonna go do the math and think, ‘Hey, we can, we can, we can.'”
Adam Shapiro is an anchor for Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter @ajshaps.