Steve Bannon has described the far right as a “collection of clowns” and said he would “crush the Democrats” as he attempts to cling on to his position at the White House.
Donald Trump’s chief strategist made a series of controversial remarks to American Prospect, a left-wing political magazine, in which he discussed the on-going issues and feuds within the Trump administration, the violence in Charlottesville, US-China trade policy and possibly military intervention in North Korea.
There have been renewed calls from both the left and right for Mr Bannon, the former editor of Breitbart News and the man who many feel is the mastermind of Mr Trump’s nationalist agenda, to be removed from his post.
During the wide-ranging interview, Mr Bannon went on the offensive and said he hoped those on the left continued to focus on race so he could “crush” them.
“The longer they talk about identity politics, I got ’em. 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,” Mr Bannon told American Prospect.
He also called the far right "irrelevant" as he responded to the suggestion that Mr Trump had refused to condemn the “ugly white nationalism epitomised by the racist violence in Charlottesville”.
“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 … These guys are a collection of clowns.”
In his comments on China, Mr Bannon claimed he was moving people around the Trump administration to tackle what he described as an “economic war” with the Asian superpower.
"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. That’s a fight I fight every day here. We’re still fighting.
“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.”
“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 10 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.”
Mr Bannon claimed he was unaware the conversation was on the record but his comments have come only days after Mr Trump declined to offer any reassurances on the future of his chief strategist.
When asked if Mr Bannon would remain in his position the President replied “we’ll see” but did scrutinise the media coverage he receives.
"I like Mr Bannon. He's a friend of mine. He's a good person and I think the press treats him, frankly, very unfairly," Mr Trump said.
It has been a rather turbulent period in the White House with a series of resignations and sackings at the highest level.
Mr Trump removed both Reince Priebus, his then chief of staff, and Anthony Scaramucci, briefly his communications director, in the space of four days.
Sean Spicer, who was Mr Trump’s press secretary, resigned in apparent protest at Mr Scaramucci’s appointment.