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Story highlights

Bannon said in 2013 that McCarthy was right in his campaign against Communist infiltration.

Trump accused former President Obama of McCarthyism over the weekend.

(CNN) —  

Donald Trump’s chief White House strategist Steve Bannon said in 2013 that Sen. Joseph McCarthy was right in his 1950s campaign claiming widespread Communist infiltration into the United States government.

The Wisconsin senator’s inquisitions of those he suspected of communist ties – which eventually led to his censure by the United States Senate – was a key moment in the Red Scare and led to the coining of the term “McCarthyism.”

Over the weekend, President Trump accused former President Obama of McCarthyism, making the unsubstantiated allegation the president wiretapped his phones in Trump Tower during the campaign.

Bannon made his comments in July 2013 while interviewing conservative pundit Diane West about her book “American Betrayal: The Secret Assault on Our Nation’s Character.”

“Today in modern pop culture, you know they call Ted Cruz the Joe McCarthy – if you want to think of who devils are it’s Ronald Reagan and those who name-names at the House Un-American Activities, the Hollywood Ten are heroes right?” Bannon said. “Alger Hiss is a hero, right? Richard Nixon’s a villain? Joe McCarthy is a villain. Your book makes very plain that these guys were right. The place was infested with either traitors that were on the direct payroll of Soviet military intelligence or fellow-travelers who were kind of compliant in helping these guys get along. I mean, there’s absolutely no question of it. How has pop culture so changed it that white is black and black is white?”

A White House spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.

During the conversation, Bannon and West compared communist infiltration of America during the Cold War to what Bannon referred to as a “dramatic influence campaign” by the Muslim Brotherhood in today’s Washington, D.C.

“Here, one fundamental difference is that, it’s the banks, it’s the investment banks, it’s the hedge funds, it’s the private equity funds, it’s the law firms, it’s the power establishment, in the United States, is inextricably linked with the cash coming out of the Middle East,” Bannon argued. “One of the reasons, you look around this town, and I keep telling people, the reason that you have a dramatic influence campaign going around with the Muslim Brotherhood and everything you say is absolutely correct, when you listen to Major Coughlin, Stephen Coughlin’s presentation, you get it, right? There are voices there of rationality that are being mocked and derided every day and the reason that the establishment looks the other way and the Bush apparatus looks the other way is because there’s so much cash, there are so many petro-dollars being funneled back to this town.”

Bannon had said earlier in the interview that it was striking that this influence campaign had affected the policy of the administration of President George W. Bush, not just that of Barack Obama, adding that he wasn’t arguing that Obama was “a Muslim or not a Muslim.”

“You mention, and you start your book off by talking about after 9/11, and one of the first examples that you use, is president George W. Bush coming up right after the attacks and saying Islam is a religion of peace,” he said. “Now that administration had run on being heirs to Ronald Reagan and the Reagan revolution so how did Rumsfeld and Cheney and Condi Rice and George Bush, how did they, I can understand how you could make the argument about President Obama and I’m not arguing that he’s a Muslim or not a Muslim, but it’s very different with a progressive left administration that it is with guys that ran on a national security–how did they get it wrong?”

Bannon and West also discussed West’s claim that Americans were at risk of being “conquered by Islam.”

“Our diminution, our stunted mentality, actually makes us perfect candidates for being conquered by jihad, conquered by Islam, made into dhimmi, which is of course the people who live, Christians and Jews who live under Islamic law,” West said. “We are silent.”

“Under the religion of peace,” Bannon replied.

“Under the religion of peace,” West agreed.

“As long as you’re silent and you’re spiffing ‘x’ amount of your income,” Bannon said, in reference to religious minorities paying taxes under Islamic law.