STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

Steve Bannon may just be right

The explosive comments attributed to the former chief strategist to President Donald Trump -- and Trump's blistering...

Posted: Jan 4, 2018 7:33 AM
Updated: Jan 4, 2018 7:33 AM

The explosive comments attributed to the former chief strategist to President Donald Trump -- and Trump's blistering response to them -- both capture and continue a level of chaos and infighting that could capsize the administration.

On Wednesday, the President blasted Steve Bannon, saying, "When he was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind," after the Guardian reported on scathing quotes from the Breitbart News chief, detailed in a forthcoming book by Michael Wolff, about a Trump Tower meeting during the campaign.

But even more important than the headline-grabbing insults and accusations lobbed by the two men is Bannon's logical, cold-eyed recognition, reflected in his remarks to Wolff, that prosecutors are likely building a powerful legal case based on alleged financial misdeeds of high-level Trump associates.

Much political commentary will now focus on Bannon's scornful words about Paul Manafort, Donald Trump Jr. and Jared Kusher, the Trump campaign officials who attended -- and then dissembled about -- a fateful June 2016 meeting with, among others, Natalia Veselnitskaya, a Russian lawyer with ties to the Kremlin.

"The three senior guys in the campaign thought it was a good idea to meet with a foreign government inside Trump Tower in the conference room on the 25th floor -- with no lawyers. They didn't have any lawyers," Bannon reportedly said scornfully to Wolff. "Even if you thought that this was not treasonous, or unpatriotic, or bad s---, and I happen to think it's all of that, you should have called the FBI immediately."

Bannon's comments -- calling the meeting "treasonous" and "unpatriotic" -- clearly contain an element of score-settling against the President's son-in-law, Jared Kushner. The two were antagonists in the early months of the administration, with a feud that attracted widespread commentary by the Washington press corps while Bannon was in the White House and continued even after Bannon resigned.

But beyond Bannon's well-known disdain for Kushner lies a dire prediction about the legal peril faced by the President:

"You realize where this is going," he is quoted as saying. "This is all about money laundering. Mueller chose [senior prosecutor Andrew] Weissmann first and he is a money-laundering guy. Their path to [President] Trump goes right through Paul Manafort, Don Jr and Jared Kushner. ... It's as plain as a hair on your face."

All too true. The Department of Justice order that named former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special counsel empowers him to investigate possible Russian interference in the 2016 elections, but it also includes broad language allowing Mueller to prosecute any crimes discovered along the way.

The specific line -- "The Special Counsel is authorized to prosecute federal crimes arising from the investigation of these matters" -- is why Manafort is facing 12 counts including conspiracy, money laundering, making false statements and failing to disclose his status as the agent of a foreign government.

Trump partisans often seize on the fact that the charges against Manafort do not specify a direct connection to Russian involvement in the 2016 election. The President himself, in a recent interview, repeated 16 times that the evidence made public so far shows "no collusion" between his campaign and Russia.

But Bannon, an ex-banker, is strongly hinting that Mueller's incidental discovery of financial crimes will lead to severe legal problems for Kushner and Donald Jr.

The special prosecutor's path to try to nail President Trump, Bannon reportedly says in Wolff's book, "goes through Deutsche Bank and all the Kushner s---. The Kushner s--- is greasy. They're going to go right through that. They're going to roll those two guys up and say play me or trade me."

That sounds like a clear reference to the tangled web of tricky real estate deals that both Kushner and Don Jr. have been involved in. The threat of prosecution for financial improprieties, Bannon seems to be saying, could put pressure on Kushner and Don Jr. to become cooperating witnesses in the Russia probe.

It's not clear exactly what matters Bannon was referring to, but he clearly believes Trump Jr. is in for some rough times at the hands of the special prosecutor, predicting to Wolff: "They're going to crack Don Jr. like an egg on national TV."

Of course, Bannon's remarkable, profane candor could all turn out to be hot air. A newcomer to politics, he pulled off the upset of the century by helping Trump -- only to blow an all-but-sure thing when his chosen candidate, Roy Moore, lost the recent special election for Senate in Alabama.

What remains to be seen is whether his cynical insider's take on the legal and political problems of the White House is an accurate description of an administration under siege. "They're sitting on a beach trying to stop a Category Five" hurricane, Bannon reportedly said.

Things may not turn out as bad for the Trump administration as Bannon predicts. But if he's even half right, it won't be a day at the beach.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 32994

Reported Deaths: 547
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Multnomah7204138
Marion469594
Washington454060
Umatilla298741
Clackamas242061
Malheur163327
Lane123417
Jackson11615
Deschutes85212
Yamhill76213
Jefferson5418
Polk53215
Linn52213
Morrow5056
Lincoln48213
Union4462
Benton3146
Wasco2963
Klamath2802
Hood River2520
Douglas2334
Clatsop2170
Josephine1982
Columbia1791
Coos1570
Baker942
Crook621
Tillamook530
Lake330
Curry310
Wallowa311
Sherman180
Harney120
Grant100
Gilliam80
Unassigned00
Wheeler00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 812711

Reported Deaths: 15633
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Los Angeles2684556515
Riverside589321206
San Bernardino54482925
Orange534481216
San Diego46734776
Kern31994369
Fresno28441382
Sacramento22356406
Santa Clara21241314
Alameda21240406
San Joaquin20245441
Contra Costa16640206
Stanislaus16471356
Tulare15970263
Ventura12775150
Imperial11852317
San Francisco11195101
Monterey995372
San Mateo9897150
Santa Barbara9090113
Merced8872142
Kings765180
Sonoma7412122
Marin6730118
Solano640065
Madera453965
Placer358745
San Luis Obispo356229
Butte283344
Yolo281555
Santa Cruz23609
Sutter170511
Napa169013
San Benito134811
Yuba11537
El Dorado11304
Mendocino93418
Shasta88317
Lassen7400
Glenn5783
Tehama5735
Lake55511
Nevada5377
Colusa5316
Humboldt5088
Calaveras31714
Amador29616
Tuolumne2274
Inyo18815
Mono1662
Siskiyou1650
Del Norte1391
Mariposa752
Plumas500
Modoc270
Trinity160
Sierra60
Alpine20
Unassigned00
Medford
Clear
83° wxIcon
Hi: 97° Lo: 55°
Feels Like: 83°
Brookings
Overcast
73° wxIcon
Hi: 75° Lo: 57°
Feels Like: 73°
Crater Lake
Clear
71° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 45°
Feels Like: 71°
Grants Pass
Clear
81° wxIcon
Hi: 97° Lo: 55°
Feels Like: 81°
Klamath Falls
Clear
71° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 41°
Feels Like: 71°
Hot and dry week, smoke returns
KDRV Radar
KDRV Fire Danger
KDRV Weather Cam

Community Events

Latest Video

Image

Tuesday, September 29 morning weather

Image

Possible housing solutions after wildfires

Image

Monday, September 28th Evening Weather

Image

Similarities in days had southern Oregonians on edge

Image

Monday, September 28 afternoon weather

Image

Monday, September 28 morning weather

Image

Sunday, September 27 evening weather

Image

Sunday, September 27 morning weather

Image

The initial spread of the Almeda Fire in real-time

Image

Saturday, September 26 evening weather