Bannon: Trump Doesn't Criticize Russia Publicly Because 'We've Got Enough Problems Around the World'
During Charlie Rose's interview with Steve Bannon that aired on “60 Minutes,” the conversation got particularly heated when Rose brought up Russia and what the investigations into the country's election meddling will find. Bannon, who was otherwise cordial to Rose, got confrontational in that moment.
“There's nothing to the Russia investigation,” he said to open the segment. “It's a waste of time.”
Rose responded by asking what he personally believes in light of the intelligence community consensus that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election. At that point, the two started talking over each other, with Bannon confused over what Rose was referring to.
“It's a total and complete farce,” he said, interrupting Rose. “Russian collusion is a farce.”
Rose countered that he didn't say anything about collusion and was just referring to the larger investigation into Russian interference. “If you consider maybe something they did that at the DNC, who ...” Bannon said before Rose interrupted him.
“That's not what the CIA believes,” Rose said. “That's not what the FBI believes.”
Bannon then asked if Rose had seen the intelligence reports because he himself had, though he cited the reports' classification when pressed on if they suggested Russia didn't try to manipulate the election.
Rose then pivoted slightly: “Why does the president find it so hard to criticize Russia?”
Bannon responded: “I don't think the president goes out of his way — his point is, why pick another fight? We've got enough problems around the world.”
When Rose repeated the “we don't need another fight” reasoning back to him, Bannon had a lengthy response:
“He criticizes the Russians all the time. He knows the Russians are not good guys. We should be focused on how we bring the Cold War to an end, so we don't have to — and I think it was President Obama's program, $1 trillion to upgrade the nuclear arsenal. Is that what you wanna do? Is that where you wanna spend your money? Would you rather spend $1 trillion in Cleveland, in Baltimore, in the inner cities of this country where we need to spend it, in the heartland of this nation? And I think what he's trying to say, in a world of anarchy, do you need another enemy?”
Then-President-elect Donald Trump made similar comments in a three-part statement on Twitter in January, albeit in the context of actively trying to improve American-Russian relations, not merely trying to prevent additional damage:
Rose responded to Bannon by saying, “I don't know of a higher priority for you than going to economic war with China,” to which the former senior White House staffer argued, "We're at not economic war with China, China is at economic war with us.
“I want China to stop appropriating our technology,” Bannon said. “China is — through forced technology transfer and through stealing our technology, but really forced technology transfer — is cutting out the beating heart of American innovation.”
Watch the video below, via CBS.