Former White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon said in a new interview that President Trump has grasped the powers of the presidency as he ramps up pressure on the Department of Justice (DOJ).
“He is mad and he should be mad. The Democrats and the media wasted three years of the nation’s time on a witch hunt,” Bannon told The Washington Post.
“Now he understands how to use the full powers of the presidency,” he added. “The pearl-clutchers better get used to it.”
The remark comes amid increased scrutiny over Trump’s recent comments slamming the DOJ for investigating or prosecuting some of his current and past associates.
Most notably, the DOJ raised eyebrows when it asked a federal court to sentence longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone to “far less” than the seven to nine years prosecutors had recommended just a day earlier.
The department’s request came after the president criticized the first sentencing guidance on Twitter as a “horrible and very unfair situation,” leading some Democrats to accuse the DOJ of taking its cues from the White House.
“This situation has all the indicia of improper political interference in a criminal prosecution,” Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in a letter this week to Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz.
Trump later went after the federal judge in Stone’s case over her ruling in another case against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and openly urged the Justice Department to retaliate against four former FBI officials who were involved in the agency’s Russia investigation.
“Is this the Judge that put Paul Manafort in SOLITARY CONFINEMENT, something that not even mobster Al Capone had to endure? How did she treat Crooked Hillary Clinton? Just asking!” he tweeted.
Is this the Judge that put Paul Manafort in SOLITARY CONFINEMENT, something that not even mobster Al Capone had to endure? How did she treat Crooked Hillary Clinton? Just asking! https://t.co/Fe7XkepJNN
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 11, 2020
“Where’s [James] Comey?” Trump asked Wednesday in the Oval Office. “What’s happening to [Andrew] McCabe? What’s happening to Lisa and — to Pete Strzok and Lisa Page? What’s happening with them? It was a whole setup, it was a disgrace for our country, and everyone knows it, too, everyone.”
“In the interest of transparency, we wish to be candid about one set of concerns we plan to address at the hearing. Since President Trump took office, we have repeatedly warned you and your predecessors that the misuse of our criminal justice system for political purposes is both dangerous to our democracy and unacceptable to the House Judiciary Committee,” the panel wrote in a letter Wednesday.
Bannon, who headed the conservative media outlet Breitbart prior to joining the White House, left the administration in 2017. Bannon had clashed with the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, former National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn and former national security adviser H.R. McMaster prior to his departure and was reportedly suspected of leaking information to reporters about his political enemies.
— This report was updated at 7:35 a.m.