Authorities: Fight Breaks Out During Party, Turns Deadly

White House chief strategist Steve Bannon said he remains committed to fighting his opponents within the Trump administration and he expects to succeed in ousting them entirely.

Bannon spoke in a phone call with the American Prospect's Robert Kuttner on Tuesday. Kuttner said Bannon reached out to him out of the blue and began expounding on the administration's internal fights.

Bannon appeared confident he'd succeed in getting rid of people who did not share his "hawk" perspective on China and trade.

"They’re wetting themselves," he told the Prospect.

“I’m changing out people at East Asian Defense; I’m getting hawks in," he continued. "I’m getting Susan Thornton [acting head of East Asian and Pacific Affairs] out at State.”

The White House did not return a request for comment, but a State Department official said Thornton was continuing in her capacity as acting assistant secretary for the bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs. "[Secretary of State Rex Tillerson] asked Susan Thornton to lead in a very important role and he continues to rely on her to lead the State Department’s diplomacy in Asia," the official said.

According to Axios, Bannon told associates that he did not intend for his phone call with the journalist to be an interview; Kuttner said Bannon did not ask for anything to be off the record.

The interview came after days of questions about whether Bannon would remain in the administration. He had fallen out of favor with Trump recently, the New York Times reported, though the president continued to say he considered Bannon a friend.

Speculation on Bannon's future came as Republicans and Democrats demanded Trump denounce white supremacists and the violence at an alt-right rally over the weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia. In his previous role heading Breitbart, Bannon promoted the emerging alt-right, which has also been championed by racists.

Talking to the American Prospect, however, Bannon attempted to distance himself from white supremacists.

"Ethno-nationalism — it's losers. It's a fringe element. I think the media plays it up too much, and we gotta help crush it, you know, uh, help crush it more,” he said.

“These guys are a collection of clowns,” he added.

And he told the Prospect the reaction from Democrats was playing straight into his hands.

"The longer they talk about identity politics, I got ’em," he said. "I want them to talk about racism every day. If the left is focused on race and identity, and we go with economic nationalism, we can crush the Democrats."

—Claudia Koerner

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