Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon said Thursday that if John Kelly, the current White House chief of staff, were to leave, he does “not believe there will be another chief of staff.”
During the Financial Times’ “Future of News” conference in New York, Bannon said he thinks President Donald Trump will instead choose to have “five or six direct reports” from key members of his staff, similar to how business was conducted at Trump Tower.
“I think the President is a very hands-on manager and feels more comfortable” with such a style, Bannon said, adding that he thinks Kelly put “too much” structure into the White House.
“Reince (Priebus’) style was a little bit more like President Trump was used to. General Kelly came in and it was completely different, very ordered, very structured,” Bannon added. “I think we’ve seen a reaction to that and I believe you’re going to see the President much more directly in contact with staff people.”
’Fire and fury’
In his wide-ranging interview Thursday, Bannon also said he does not think the President’s recent agreement to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will come to fruition, saying that if he were a “betting man” he’d wager that it would not happen because of logistics for both parties.
Bannon was harshly criticized by the President after the book Michael Wolff’s book “Fire and Fury” was published earlier this year, in which the former aide was quoted as saying unflattering things about the Trump White House. But the former Breitbart executive chairman told the crowd Thursday that he does not regret being the primary source for the book.
“I have not seen anybody refute anything that was said in the book,” Bannon said. “I have not read the book, but no, I don’t regret it. It is what it is.”
Following his appearance at the conference, CNN’s Dana Bash asked Bannon, who once served as a Cambridge Analytica vice president, if he knew the firm was using personal information from Facebook.
“That Facebook data, by the way, is for sale all over the world,” Bannon responded, later adding, “I don’t remember buying it. That was the Cambridge guy.”
Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign hired the firm for the 2016 election. Other high-profile Republican campaigns and political groups also used its services in past election cycles.
During his appearance, Bannon addressed recent reports that Cambridge Analytica misused Facebook users’ data.
“The point is, that is Facebook’s business. In 2008, it was Google and Facebook that went to Barack Obama and met him at San Francisco airport and told him all about the power of this personal data,” Bannon said, adding that “the great opposition party – media – never went after the Obama campaign, never went after the progressive left as they’ve been doing this for years. And in 2013, when I thought a data company might be important, all the sudden it becomes global news.”
In the book, Bannon called the 2016 Trump Tower meeting between Trump campaign officials and a Russian lawyer purportedly offering damaging information about Hillary Clinton “treasonous” but later expressed regret over the comment.
Bannon also said he believes Trump is “going to war” over special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe following John Dowd’s resignation Thursday as Trump’s leading lawyer in the inquiry.
“John Dowd is a good man,” Bannon said, adding that “more aggressive attorneys got brought in.”
Bannon said that Trump lawyers “Ty Cobb and John Dowd had a radical theory.”
“Let’s totally cooperate and waive executive privilege, OK? I have said, as I told the President and told everybody – and I told brother Dowd, I think that’s wrong,” he said.
CNN’s Oliver Darcy and Mary Kay Mallonee contributed to this report.