Steve Bannon professed the utmost respect for White House chief of staff John Kelly during his first-ever television interview, though he explained that he believes not even the former Marine general can rein in the often-times unpredictable President Trump fully.
During his wide-ranging interview on CBS's "60 Minutes," which aired Sunday, Bannon, who up until last month served as Trump's chief strategist, opined that no one, not even Kelly, can control Trump's sometimes-inflammatory Twitter habits.
"[Trump] knows he's speaking directly to the people who put him in office when he uses Twitter. And it sometimes is not in the custom and tradition of what the opposition party deems is appropriate. You're -- you're absolutely correct, it's not. And he's not going to stop," Bannon said.
Shifting focus to Kelly, he added: "And by the way, General Kelly I have the most tremendous respect for and has put in very tight processes. He's not going to be able to control it either because it's Donald Trump. It's Donald Trump talking directly to the American people. And to say something else, you're going to get some good there. And every now and again you're going to get some less good, okay? But you're just going to have to live with it."
Since Kelly replaced Reince Priebus as chief of staff late last month, making the jump over from the Homeland Security Department, he has reportedly brought a sense of discipline to a West Wing beset by leaks and infighting. In particular, Kelly has restricted the flow of information and people that reaches Trump, including which family members can see Trump in the Oval Office on a whim -- though there have still been instances to suggest cracks in the system, such as first daughter Ivanka Trump dropping in on a meeting between her father and congressional leaders.
Trump has openly expressed admiration for Kelly, including in his tweets, but privately is said to be chafing at Kelly's strict regime. He also reportedly lambasted Kelly after staffers suggested to their boss that he stray away from political distractions that could impede his policy agenda. Sources told the New York Times he would not endure that kind of treatment again.
Reports have indicated that Kelly favored Bannon's exit, as well as the ouster of controversial national security aide Sebastian Gorka and White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci -- all people, according to the New York Times, were people whom concerned Kelly due to lack of experience and the drama that surrounded their tenures. A source told the Washington Examiner that different sources of opposition Bannon faced internally persuaded the president to dismiss him, rather than it being Kelly himself.
When asked whether it was Kelly's decision to have him leave the Trump administration, Bannon replied, "Absolutely not."
"I went to General Kelly on August 7th sayin', 'My one-year anniversary's coming up,'" Bannon said, referring to the year it had been since he left Breitbart News to become the Trump campaign's chief executive officer. "And in fact," he added, "when I went to him on the 7th and said, 'Hey, I am -- I'm going to put in my letter of resignation, and I'm going to be out of here on the 14th. It'll be one year to the date.'"
Hours after his exit from the White House, Bannon was reinstated as executive chairman of Breitbart News.
Bannon, who was said to clash with National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster as well as Ivanka Trump and her husband and fellow White House adviser Jared Kushner, also denied that he had been isolated in the White House.
"That's not -- absolutely not true. I still -- I was still -- I had the same influence on the president I had on day one," he said. Bannon did, however, lament
Bannon may still have some sway over Trump, as he still has phone conversations with Trump when Kelly isn't looking, according to a Washington Post report. The report has raised some legal concerns about whether Bannon is lobbying the president before the cool-off period for former executive branch officials ends.