Speaking with the leftwing American Prospect on Tuesday, White House advisor Steve Bannon cut loose with a rip at Gary Cohn, the chief economic advisor to President Trump and Director of the National Economic Council, as well as Trump’s apparent strategy dealing with North Korea.
According to Robert Kuttner, who had slammed Trump for letting China profit from the war of words between Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, Bannon asked to speak with him. According to Kuttner, Bannon told Kuttner:
It’s a great honor to finally track you down. I’ve followed your writing for years and I think you and I are in the same boat when it comes to China. You absolutely nailed it. We’re at economic war with China.It’s in all their literature. They’re not shy about saying what they’re doing. One of us is going to be a hegemon in 25 or 30 years and it’s gonna be them if we go down this path. On Korea, they’re just tapping us along. It’s just a sideshow.
Bannon ripped Trump’s comments in which he said Kim Jong Un would evoke “fire and fury” from the U.S., saying:
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.
Speaking of those who oppose him at the Departments of Defense, State, and Treasury, Bannon patronized, “They’re wetting themselves,” then detailed his plans to oust them from State and Defense.
Bannon boasted that he was making internal changes himself in the administration, asserting, “I’m changing out people at East Asian Defense; I’m getting hawks in. I’m getting Susan Thornton [acting head of East Asian and Pacific Affairs] out at State.”
When asked if he could really get his way with the changes he wanted to make, he snapped, “That’s a fight I fight every day here. We’re still fighting. There’s Treasury and [National Economic Council chair] Gary Cohn and Goldman Sachs lobbying. We gotta do this. The president’s default position is to do it, but the apparatus is going crazy. Don’t get me wrong. It’s like, every day.”
Cohn was reportedly upset with Trump’s remarks in which he said “nice people” were among the alt-right members marching in Charlottesville; there were rumors, according to Politico, that he might quit, but according to Reuters, a White House official stated, “Gary intends to remain in his position as NEC director at the White House. Nothing’s changed.”