“The ‘Drain the Swamp’ thing was — is Mitch McConnell was Day One did not wanna — did not wanna go there. Wanted us to back off,” said Breitbart News chairman Stephen Bannon Sunday, appearing on CBS’ “60 minutes” with Charlie Rose.
In his first interview since leaving the Trump administration in August, former White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon assailed the Republican establishment’s efforts to, in his words, “nullify the 2016 election.”
Bannon told CBS’ Charlie Rose Sunday that the Washington establishment, personified in Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has been trying to get President Trump to back off his anti-establishment campaign promises from the very beginning of Trump’s presidency. He related a story of how in one of his first meetings with President Trump, Senator McConnell made it abundantly clear that he is adamantly opposed to any effort to reduce the establishment’s power in Washington D.C.
Partial transcript below.
STEVE BANNON: I think Mitch McConnell, and to a degree, Paul Ryan. They do not want Donald Trump’s populist, economic nationalist agenda to be implemented. It’s very obvious. It’s obvious as— it’s obvious as the— it’s obvious as night follows day is what they’re trying to do—
CHARLIE ROSE: Give me a story that illustrates that.
STEVE BANNON: Oh, Mitch McConnell when we first met him, I mean, he was— he was— he— he said, I think in one of the first meetings— in Trump Tower with the president— as we’re wrapping up, he basically says, “I don’t wanna hear any more of this ‘Drain the Swamp’ talk.” He says, “I can’t— I can’t hire any smart people,” because everybody’s all over him for reporting requirements and— and the pay, et cetera, and the scrutiny. You know, “You gotta back off that.” The “Drain the Swamp” thing was— is Mitch McConnell was Day One did not wanna— did not wanna go there. Wanted us to back off.
Conservatives are all too aware of how McConnell has used his position as majority leader and his friends on K Street in Washington D.C. to consolidate power and squash conservative senate candidates who could threaten his leadership. As recently as this year, McConnell’s Super PAC allies are dumping millions of dollars into Alabama to prevent conservative candidate for U.S. Senate Judge Roy Moore from defeating the appointed incumbent, McConnell ally Sen. Luther Strange, R-Ala.
For all his efforts, McConnell has secured a liberal Republican majority in the United States Senate that would not keep its seven-year promise to repeal Obamacare and will not advance Trump’s agenda.
Bannon says McConnell and the rest of the Republican establishment need to be “put on notice.”
CHARLIE ROSE: You are attacking on many fronts people who you need to help you to get things done.
STEVE BANNON: They're not gonna help you unless they’re put on notice. They’re gonna be held accountable if they do not support the president of the United States. Right now there’s no accountability. They have totally— they do not support the president’s program. It’s an open secret on Capitol Hill. Everybody in this city knows it.
If it is a war against the establishment, it’s a war of attrition. Bannon intimated that one president cannot drain the swamp in a single term.
“The swamp is 50 years in the making. Let’s talk about the swamp. The swamp is a business model. It's a successful business model,” he said. “You’re not going to drain it in two terms. This is going to take 10, 15, 20 years of relentlessly going after it,” he added later.