Former White House strategist Steve Bannon on Monday dug in on this threat that Donald Trump-loyal “shock troops” will move to “deconstruct” the federal government the minute a Republican takes over the Oval Office again.
“We need to get ready now,” he said on his “War Room” podcast. “We control the country. We’ve got to start acting like it. And one way we’re going to act like it, we’re not going to have 4,000 [shock troops] ready to go, we’re going to have 20,000 ready to go.”
Bannon referred to 4,000 “shock troops” in an interview with NBC News on Saturday after the network reported that he had met earlier in the week with the party faithful to exhort them to prepare to “reconfigure the government” once a Republican is in the White House.
“If you’re going to take over the administrative state and deconstruct it, then you have to have shock troops prepared to take it over immediately,” Bannon told NBC. “I gave ’em fire and brimstone.”
“Shock troops” is a military term for an advance team of trained soldiers who carry out lightning-fast assaults. Many found Bannon’s use of the term extremely disturbing, particularly in the wake of the violence of the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol. Critics said Bannon’s reference to shock troops “deconstructing” the “state” appeared to be a call for an anti-democracy coup.
But Bannon attempted to veil his violent rhetoric as a call for “shock troop” bureaucrats.
He spoke last week at the Capitol Hill Club at the invitation of a new right-wing organization called the Association of Republican Presidential Appointees, according to NBC. The group was formed as a resource for future GOP officials to quickly fill federal jobs.
Bannon, who ran Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, said at the meeting last week that the former president’s agenda to pack the government with loyalists was delayed because Trump couldn’t move quickly enough to fill about 4,000 posts.
Bannon told NBC that he wants to see “pre-trained teams ready to jump into federal agencies” when the next Republican president takes office.
Bannon was one of four close Trump associates subpoenaed earlier last week to appear before the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection. Investigators said Bannon urged Trump to focus efforts to return to the White House on the Jan. 6 action.
Bannon admitted last week on his podcast that he told Trump before the insurrection: “You need to kill this [Biden] administration in its crib.”
The former president contradicted Bannon on Monday, insisting the two hadn’t spoken near the end of his administration.
“So is he lying when he says he was talking to you in the last months of your administration?” Trump was asked on Yahoo Finance Live.
Trump responded: “Very little. We would speak very little. Now, Steve and I spoke very little. But I will tell you, he was very supportive.”
Trump early this year pardoned Bannon, who faced multiple fraud counts in the Southern District of New York following an indictment a year ago for allegedly stealing funds from Trump supporters who donated to a charity he controlled, which purported to raise money to help build Trump’s wall along the southern border.