Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon is making it clear that what matters most for Republicans this midterm election is keeping Democrats from winning so they won’t impeach President Donald Trump.
In an interview with Business Insider, Bannon said that Trump supporters must get out and vote for Republican candidates this fall, even if they are “establishment” Republicans. This is because, according to Trump’s former right-hand man, the president depends on keeping Congress red.
"The hard thing we have to do is convince the Trump voters that: 'Hey, there may be a RINO [Republican in name only] in your congressional district, you may not like the guy, he may not like Trump. It doesn't matter. That fight is past us,'" he told reporters.
He is so serious about this drive that he launched a new political action group entitled Citizens of the American Republic. Michael Caputo, a former Trump campaign official, is also involved in the PAC.
They claim that they will be helping and advising a number of pro-Trump surrogates during the midterms.
As part of his efforts to keep Trump in power, Bannon will also release a movie highlighting what the president has delivered to his supporters so far titled “Trump@War.” With the film, Bannon said he hopes to convince disappointed Trump supporters that his presidency is at risk and that he needs their help.
"This is President Trump's first reelect," Bannon said. "It isn't 2020. It's now."
But what exactly prompted Bannon, who was viciously attacked by Trump himself, to be so eager to fight on his behalf?
He told Business Insider that Michael Cohen’s guilty plea, as well as Paul Manafort’s conviction, could end up prompting voters to either stay home or simply vote Democrat this fall. And if Democrats take Congress, he added, Trump will be impeached. That was enough for him to act.
Democrats are currently laying low, however, choosing to wait until the FBI’s special counsel Robert Mueller releases his report to take further action, according to an anonymous Democratic Senate aide.
"There's nothing the White House and Republican strategists want more than for the midterms to become a referendum on impeachment," the aide said.
Bannon said he knows why Democrats are so quiet about the prospects of impeaching Trump.
“They don't want to talk about it because they know it fires up our base," he said. "The first thing they're going to do is move toward impeaching him. To start full investigations. To have subpoena power. And they're going to do it because they have an energized base."
"They know it, and we know," he added.
Explaining that Trump supporters must recognize Democrats are fired up, he even suggested that voters in Texas who are angry at Republican Sen. Ted Cruz for not endorsing Trump must "get over it."
"That was then, this is now," Bannon said. "Trump needs that Senate seat, he needs that vote. And most importantly, we need Cruz to run strong because there are three or four House seats in Texas that will be impacted by that race."
"If you have a problem because of a RINO, you're going to have to get over that," he said. "Because what happens if he loses is so catastrophic."
But while he seems to believe that impeachment is the “catastrophic” scenario in this case, establishment Republicans might not be too happy about his sudden involvement. After all, there’s been talks about making the political discourse among conservatives more “civil,” and backing all Republicans during the midterms means supporting candidates who may spout toxic, radical agendas at times.
This concern is real because it already happened when Bannon backed Roy Moore, the right-wing Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate who was later accused of sexual misconduct with teenagers.
But to Bannon, that doesn’t matter.
"People can't sit here and think that they're not motivated because they are and they're energized," he said. "And so that's what we have to go up against. And for people to think that left is not energized to impeach Trump are kidding themselves. They are not out there to work with Trump post-Nov. 6.”
With Bannon being so open about why Trump supporters should be worried about a blue wave, it’s clear the president’s inner circle is just as terrified.
Bannon's warning could backfire, however, as voters could become motivated to go out and vote to flip the control of Congress precisely because they want to impeach the president, which wouldn't be a bad thing.
Banner and thumbnail image credit: Reuters/Moritz Hager