Earlier this week, Trump's political adviser Steve Bannon picked up the phone and called a reporter at The American Prospect, where he proceeded to opine on all manner of things, from racism and white supremacy to North Korea and China. It was freeform and quite remarkable.
On North Korea, Bannon said, “There’s no military solution [to North Korea’s nuclear threats], forget it. Until somebody solves the part of the equation that shows me that ten million people in Seoul don’t die in the first 30 minutes from conventional weapons, I don’t know what you’re talking about, there’s no military solution here, they got us.”
He went on to downplay the possibility of China actually putting pressure on North Korea, instead arguing that we must enter into a trade war with China now in order to emerge the victor in five years, because the economic war with China is everything right now.
This doesn't exactly comport with what has been the official White House line on North Korea at this time, leading Fox and Friends to ask Newt whether he agrees that the economic war is key.
Newt responded with a flat "No." He then went off on Bannon for giving the interview at all.
"I don't know what Bannon thinks he's accomplishing," Newt said.
He continued, "The bottom line if you have General Mattis lined up and General Kelly lined up and General McMaster and Secretary Tillerson lined up and the United Nations ambassador lined up. maybe if you're a senior White House adviser, it's useful not to screw it up."
"It's useful not to be out there -- if you're a senior White House adviser, you make your argument in the Oval Office, you make your argument in the Chief of Staff's office."
"Steve Bannon is a professional," Gingrich groused. "This kind of stuff is -- this reminds me of Scaramucci, you know? You don't go off and do this stuff."
For well over a week, the long knives have been out at the White House for Bannon. Rumors of him being the main leaker have been rolling forth in waves, intended to paint him as a traitor to Trump. After the interview was published, Bannon claimed he didn't know it was on the record, as if he was not the publisher of Brietbart News for years and had no clue that the default mode is always on-the-record. Please.
Steve Bannon knew what he was doing when he made that call and gave that interview. He knew the message he was sending, and he did it for a reason. The war right now is between Bannon and Kelly, and Bannon was demonstrating how he intends to win.