George Papadopoulos was “a coffee boy.” Michael Flynn was at the White House for just 18 days. Paul Manafort was really only around for the campaign. Now White House press secretary Sarah Sanders says Steve Bannon “didn't have a lot of influence.”
In any other administration, that line might work. But this White House has been so porous and its turnover rate so high that this revisionism will not hold up. Minutes after Sanders claimed Bannon was on the sidelines, a former senior staffer contacted me to say the fiery populist was in the Oval Office often and “had a lot of influence.”
Populism was Bannon’s ticket into the room and Trump’s head. “He very much influenced the president’s perspective on issues,” the former staffer explains, “by reminding him how his base would respond.”
Bannon regularly texted the president and walked anywhere he wanted in the White House. His whiteboard with scribbled policy plans was legendary, and his lobbying efforts behind the early immigration ban, infamous.
What’s more, according to the staffer, Bannon’s tenure captures the early nature of the administration: “Any perceived influence that he did or didn’t have is more an indication of the White House being insane.”