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What's Next For Bannon

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Steve Bannon is back at Breitbart News after he left the White House yesterday. President Trump thanked his former chief strategist today on Twitter saying, quote, "he came to the campaign during my run against crooked Hillary Clinton - it was great." Mr. Bannon has pledged to go to war for President Trump and says he can fight better on the outside. He spoke yesterday with Bloomberg's Joshua Green who joins us this morning. Mr. Green, thank you for being with us.

JOSHUA GREEN: It's good to be with you.

SIMON: Did Steve Bannon strike you was hurt, humbled, resolved?

SIMON: Not at all, no. He sounded like somebody very relieved, on the one hand, to be out of the White House and to finally have his fate determined but mostly exciting - excited and champing at the bit to get out away from the White House, where he can be more uninhibited and wage the same sorts of battles externally that he had been trying to wage internally.

SIMON: Of course, he says he's going to war. That's the quote that keeps, obviously, getting into our coverage - going to war for President Trump. He seemed to mostly talk about evening the score, though, with Republicans in Congress or people in the White House he called West Wing Democrats.

GREEN: Well, what he told me was that he was going to war on Trump's behalf against his perceived enemies on Capitol Hill and the media and in corporate America. And I do think that that includes the people that Bannon derisively refers to as White House Democrats and that would include Gary Cohn, the director of the National Economic Council, Steve Mnuchin, the treasury secretary, and in particular Jared Kushner, the president's son-in law, who I think was instrumental in helping oust Bannon from the White House.

So the distinction that Bannon made to me in our interview yesterday after he was fired is that he's not going to attack Trump directly, but rather, he is going to go after the people who he thinks are inhibiting Trump from fulfilling the policies that he campaigned on. So I think what Bannon wants to do is push this brand of populist nationalism and mow down anybody who he sees as blocking it.

SIMON: Could Trump be caught in the crosshairs?

GREEN: I think he could. You know, Bannon didn't really want to engage much with my questions about whether or not he would be willing to attack Trump himself. He said that wasn't his goal. But I do think he'd be willing to do it if he felt as though Trump were siding too eagerly with the people that Bannon calls the globalists, the white wing - the White House Democrats that we just talked about.

He wants Trump to fulfill the ideas he espoused on the campaign trail. And Trump hasn't been willing to do that in a lot of areas both in terms of foreign policy - and I think you'll see a big fight from Bannon over the U.S. troop presence in Afghanistan - on issues of trade and cracking down on China in particular and other areas where Trump hasn't been willing to go quite as far as he said he would be when he was campaigning for president.

SIMON: How worried do you sense mainstream Republicans are about Steve Bannon being on the outside and jacked up, as I believe he said?

GREEN: I don't think that they're as worried as I think maybe they ought to be. There was palpable relief in a lot of Republican corners that Bannon was finally pushed out of the White House because a lot of Republicans want to believe that Bannon's pernicious influence on Trump was what was driving so much of Trump's behavior, not just in the wake of Charlottesville and some of the appalling things he said in support of white supremacist marchers, but his overall stance toward governing and his inability, really, to get anything done. I think that's the wrong conclusion to make. I'm not sure that Bannon was a positive force for Trump, but I think Trump is really governed by his own impulses.

SIMON: Joshua Green, author of the "Devil's Bargain Steve Bannon, Donald Trump, And The Storming Of The Presidency," thanks so much for being with us.

GREEN: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.