Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon said President Donald Trump was “absolutely correct” when he said there was “blame on both sides” after a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville ended with the death of counterprotester Heather Heyer. Anti-facists were “just as violent as these KKK guys,” Bannon said on MSNBC Friday night.
Neo-Nazi suspect James Alex Fields Jr., 20, was charged with first-degree murder and multiple hate crimes in the death of Heyer, 32, after authorities said he intentionally drove his vehicle into a crowd of anti-racist counterprotesters at the Unite the Right rally.
Bannon said Trump was “absolutely correct” in his controversial comments. “When you talk about the [debate over] Confederate monuments ... the president is saying there’s good people on both sides, okay?” he said to host Ari Melber.
But “when you talk about the people that come there for violence, [Trump] condemned those people. He condemned the neo-Confederates. He condemned the neo-Nazis. He condemned the KKK. He also condemned Antifa [anti-fascists].” He added: “The problem with the mainstream media, you give Antifa a complete, free pass. They are just as violent as the Neo-Confederates. They’re just as violent as these KKK guys, and they have to be condemned.”
“The president is being smeared,” he added.
In other comments in Bannon’s speed-talking, jumbled interview in which he often bulldozed over Melber, he branded Trump’s decision to fire former FBI director James Comey a “big mistake.”
The “day he was fired I see it on TV like everyone else,” he recalled. “I thought it was a mistake, and I thought it would lead to a special counsel,” Bannon said. The former strategisthas been questioned as part of the Robert Mueller investigation into possible Russian interference in the 2016 election. He told Melber he was a “witness of fact” concerning both obstruction of justice and collusion.
Bannon has said that former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort’s meeting with Russian individuals in Trump Tower to gather damaging information on Hillary Clinton was “treasonous.”
“I don’t think you ought to ever have people from other countries, Russians or whatever, come in and try to get opposition research.” If Trump knew about the meeting ahead of time “that would concern me,” he said.
Bannon also said the midterm elections will be a “referendum” on Trump. If midterms were held today, “I think we’d have a tough time holding the House,” he admitted.
But “I believe by Nov. 6 we’re going to win this,” he added. “This is an up or down vote on President Trump. He permeates the entire political culture.” Getting out the “deplorables and the blue-collar Democrats” will be key, he said. “If we don’t get our base out on Nov. 6, we’re going to have a very bad day at the polls.”
Check out more on the midterms here:
Bannon also talked about the Me Too movement and the gender vote gap for Trump. He said Trump was not “walking away” from women.
“Look at Ivanka. I think Ivanka has been engaged in women’s issues. She’s talking about job training and all these other things,” he said. “I think you see the way Donald Trump has a terrific relationship with his daughter and his wife; shows what he thinks about this.”
Check out more on his views on women here:
- This article originally appeared on HuffPost.