Bannon: China was not prepared to have Trump in office

TRISH REGAN, FBN HOST:  He is public enemy number one as far as China is concerned.  The man who identified and articulated, perhaps before anyone else in the financial and policy circles, the looming threat posed to us, the United States of America by Chinese, Mr. Steve Bannon.  Steve Bannon, the chief executive of Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign and later chief strategist to president, has pounded China for its predatory economic policies, policies he believes that must be corrected.Well, now, China is launching its own attack on him, with Chinese state TV declaring Steve Bannon is the true enemy of the United States.Here now to respond in his first interview since China started launching all these political and personal attacks on him, Mr. Steve Bannon himself live from Paris, France, tonight.  Good to have you here, Steve.  Welcome.  

STEVE BANNON, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE CHIEF STRATEGIST:  Trish, thanks for having me on tonight.

REGAN:  And I appreciate you staying up late, because I know it’s pretty late, like 2:00 a.m. over there in France.I do want to get to one of the reasons why you’re there, which is the elections.  But let’s get to the China stuff first, starting on the other side of world, if you would, the Chinese are saying that you, sir, are hurting America, that you’re the problem.  You are the demon, I believe, it was the quote.  How did you respond to that?  

BANNON:  Well, it’s interesting.  You know, both CCTV, which is the BBC of China, and also “The Global Times”, which is their tabloid of “The People’s Daily”, which they used to attack — I think this first time in living memory they have gone after a private citizen, that shows how nervous they are.They understand that President Trump fully gets the economic war that they’ve been running on the industrial democracies, particularly the United States for 20 years.  And they are in absolute shock that Donald Trump stood up to them, said, hey, I’m not going to sign some trade deal which we don’t have you commit to start to restructure your economy, to fit into the world’s economy, and really, stopped this economic war both on technology front and on the force technology transfers and subsidies to state-owned industries, all of it.  Trump’s deal with Bob Lighthizer was a very well-thought strategic deal.  They’re in panic.  Remember, the reason Donald Trump is president, Trish, and you see him up in Pennsylvania tonight, is that the working people in the country, the deplorables understood that the elites in our country were having managed decline.  You see that here in Western Europe.  You certain see it at the United States, and they rejected that.The Chinese drafted off that for 20 years.  And in fact, Wall Street, the city of London, the corporatist, they all made a ton of money shipping the jobs, the high-value added jobs over to China.  They were not prepared to have a guy like Donald Trump say, hey, we’re not doing this deal.  We’re going to get down to it and actually, you’re going to have to commit to stop the cheating or have to commit to stop the theft.  You’re going to have to commit to act like a good global citizen.  So, now, you see him striking out today, interestingly enough after they attacked me over the week, Liu He, the chief negotiator, and President Xi went on a rare earth producer in China, I think that send a signal to United States, that this economic war is about to go to another level.

REGAN:  So, China is playing the long game, right?  I mean, they’ve got a plan for next hundred years.  We have a plan effectively for the next, you know, couple of years.  And if President Trump is reelected, then a plan for the next six years or so.  So, I guess my question is, how much pain can our economy withstand if, in fact, we’re affected by this?Thus far, we’ve been in pretty good shape.  You look at the GDP numbers.  You look at the job numbers.  All of that has been good.  But if it starts to turn, do the Chinese sit back and say, hey, I told you so?  And do we run the risk of maybe caving to some of the economic and political pressure?  

BANNON:  You know, the backbone of this country, the working men and women have been through a lot, and have, you know, through 20th century have supported the policymakers and the direction of the country.  I think what’s important is what you see is that you’re seeing it coming together right now.  Those numbers that you just talked about, remember, that the drop in import prices, the increase to 3.2 over 2.2 economy growth, this is all because of Trump’s plan.  It’s coming to fruition.  But we’re seeing a decrease in the trade deficit, we’re seeing the import prices come down.And so, you start to see — you’re seeing employment coming down.  You’re seeing the fact of what Trump is doing his long game, I think it is longer than a couple of years, he is bringing the supply chain back to the west, and that is where the heart of this.This breaks made in China 2025, which is heart of this thing, which was advance chip design, artificial intelligence and robotics which China was trying to basically steal our technology and become a dominant high end manufacturer.  Trump is breaking that right now.  And I think you can see — I think this game is a lot longer play.  And you see today, to read the front page of “The Financial Times,” you now have Dan Coats in the intelligence groups going around to the venture capital firms, the private equity firms, the corporations, the Silicon Valley, and starting to walk people through the threats of Huawei and some of these others, and that is driven by both Senator Marco Rubio and Senator Mark Warner, the Democrat.  I believe you are seeing a coming together with tweets of Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi.  I think you’re seeing like Rubio, in Capitol Hill, it’s been a sea-change over the last two years.  That’s Trump’s leadership in not backing down.  So, you’re seeing now I think the country coming together.  I think we’re now having — with Mike Pence’s speech, you’re seeing all forces of government start to go, this is not about the Chinese people.  The Chinese people are the ones that have been absolutely, you know, blown apart by this.  This 100 percent of the CCP, this radical cadre of the CCP, that’s been doing this. So, I think you are seeing a coming together, they say they can play long game.  I don’t think they’ve got the bullets in the chamber.

REGAN:  I look at the enormous rise, right, in Chinese economy.  And you can go back — it really started under Bill Clinton.  And I’m not — you know, I’m not pointing the blame towards anyone specific here because it continued really under both parties, and American business benefitted from that.  American businesses likes that, right, because they wanted to have a present in China, and the thought being, gosh, they’ve got a billion people over there.  You want to have access to that market.  And so, CEOs who were interested in daily stock price and quarterly earnings are thinking, I need to be in that market.  Is this the place where you need government to step in?  Because market forces would be more selfishly driven in that, the CEO wants the earnings that they could get from China, maybe willing to risk a lot, and sacrifice a lot?  

BANNON:  This is the heart of — this is the heart of economic nationalism.  In fact, they really work just look at the Chinese market, the central part of this — and you are too polite and too nice to call them out, so I will.  This is a permanent political class.  This is not about party.  This is both Republicans and Democrats.  This is from Clinton to Bush to Obama.  This is all the Wall Street faction.  This is the corporatists.  The first thing they wanted was to ship manufacturing jobs, they wanted cheaper labor, OK?  They wanted access to Chinese market ultimately.  This is about cheap labor.  This is why throughout the world, what China exports most is deflation and overcapacity.  And we’ve allowed them to do that.  OK?  That is why you haven’t had wages rise in Japan, in Western Europe, or the United States.  This is all part of the kind of party of Davos, of their economy plan, which they benefited from.  Remember — and this managed declined by our elites, the elites did fine, OK?  And the financial crisis, which they bailed themselves out, is the working people throughout Europe and the U.S. and Japan that have taken it on the chin.  And this was — this is a well-thought through business model and it worked for people.  They were never called out.  They were never called out until Donald Trump won the 2016 campaign in Upper Midwest with Reagan Democrats and low propensity voters and the deplorables.  Those are the people that had his back, and they know that jobs left, opioids came in.  And it was destroying the heart of this country.  This is what this is about.  And this is why Trump showed such political courage, and doing this, and the pressure on him has been tremendous, more pressure from Republicans, free traders.And here is the insanity of it, China is a totalitarian, surveillance, mercantilist business model.  State capitalism with big government.  It’s not a free trader at all.  You can’t get in there, right?  And this — we had free trade mentality and this happy talk for years.  The other thing is, look at all the false scare tactics that Wall Street used leading up this, the market was going to implode.  It’s going to go down 2,000 points.  The economy is going to implode. It’s just like scare tactics that were used when Donald Trump won the presidency and they said the market is going to implode, OK?  The fear project turned out to be Y2K.  The economy is actually growing strongly, right?  There’s been a few prohibitions (ph) in the market, but it’s basically a break even.  And I tell you, I think Trump is very focused, I think you will see in his speech tonight in Pennsylvania I think will reiterate this.But this is the beating heart, this is single-most important thing he will do in his presidency.  This is his Reagan moment.  This is a major infliction point in world history.  It’s a major infliction point in American history.REGAN:  Which is why the Chinese are so mad at him and also at you.  Let me ask about what’s going on in Europe, and we’ll continue this conversation here.  I mean, you got also working class there that said, OK, we had enough, this isn’t fair.  We’ve gotten the short end of this stick.  What is it that we should know about Europe as we think about how the U.S. is going to react in 2020? 

BANNON:  I think you see, look, Brexit was forerunner to 2016 Trump election.  And I think you’re seeing — you saw in Australia the other night, a populist — you know, a victory at very last second.  And I think you’re seeing here a momentum building for this populist national sovereignty parties.  I think a movement is building up here in France, where Marine Le Pen has come back, and a tremendous comeback when she was defeated by Macron.  She and Macron are in a dead heat for European parliamentary elections.  He’s made it a referendum on himself.  In Italy, Salvini is leading I think with over 30 percent of the vote.  You’ve got Orban. All the populist parties including Nigel Farage, who has a part — he just started about five or six weeks ago called Brexit which is polling right now, Trish, higher than Labour and the Tory Party combined.  So, you are seeing a revolution here in Europe, and it’s the exact same thing as United States, working class people that are tired of the central government in Brussels in what I call this party at Davos, the financial, managerial, engineering, scientific elite that have, you know, call all the shots and had let this migrant issue really eviscerate the working class in Italy and in France.  You’re seeing people fight back.  And I got to tell you, next Sunday, I think we’re going to have a political earthquake in Europe just like the head of the political earthquake when Donald Trump won in November 2016.

REGAN:  Wow, wow. Don’t go anywhere.  Stay with me because I’ve got a lot more to ask you about — we’re going to find out what Steve Bannon thinks of the now 23 and still counting mostly far left Democratic candidates that are all trying to beat his former boss in 2020.  Steve Bannon is back with me live from Paris, after this.(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

REGAN:  I’m back with Steve Bannon, who just said there is a political earthquake coming to Europe this Sunday.Steve, good to have you here.  He is live in Paris, France.  Good to see that Eiffel Tower there behind you.Let me ask you about 2020, though, here on this side of the pond.  We were just talking about China.  And you got Joe Biden out there saying, you know, China is not that big a deal.  You know, why is President Trump talking about China?Is that the sort of party line that Democrat is going to pursue?  And if so, where does that land them or Joe Biden, shall I say, in 2020?  

BANNON:  I don’t think it is necessarily Democrats at all.  I think you’re going to see some tough lines taken.  But let’s go to Biden, specifically.  You know, Joe Biden — I think Joe Biden has got to prove to the American people two things.  Number one, he’s going to prove first he is not compromised by Chinese communist party.  In 2013, and President Trump — last night on FOX, on Steve Hilton show, asked for this, it’s picked up in “The New York Times” tonight.  He’s now calling for this — off of Peter Schweizer’s investigation.  Schweizer is the same team of this organization I used to oversee years ago that did “Clinton Cash”, that drilled down on corruption, the corruption of the Clinton apparatus.  They did same thing on Joe Biden, and what they found in 2013, his son, Hunter, who’s totally unqualified, went on a trip with him to China, and then afterward stuck around in Bank of China, which unlike any other central bank in G20, reports is not independent like the Federal Reserve and the Bank of England.  It reports to the government.They gave this kid $1 billion dollars and then to a $1.5 billion.  Somebody who’s totally unqualified to run a private equity or venture capital fund or a hedge fund, gave him $1.5 billion to invest.  It turns out, he invested some of that I believe in surveillance companies, some of these companies that oppressed the Chinese people, the hardworking Chinese people that have been enslaved by the Chinese communist party.  Joe Biden is hiding from this, he will not come forward.  President Trump called him out last night personally on the Steve Hilton show.  I think it’s very important.  We have to understand that Joe Biden and his family have not been compromised.  This is why this thing has been gone for so long.  The Chinese are great at influence-peddling, and we have to understand if Joe Biden’s skirts are clean on this.  He’s got to come forward.We’ve got to know how much wealth his family has created off this.  We have to know why he took a billion and a half dollars from an oppressive government, and what they did with it.  And number two is he said the other day, well, they’re not even a strategic competitor.  Come on, man.  He’s got to — he’s got to convince the American people he is serious about this.REGAN:  That’s not an easy thing —  

BANNON:  This is the greatest geostrategic enemy we’ve ever had.  This is an existential threat to the United States of America.  And now, everybody understands that.  (INAUDIBLE) came back from Berlin and in Paris, people in Europe understand it.This is not a game, this is deadly serious, and Joe Biden is blowing it off.  And people in those Upper Midwest states, middle class show, they’re going to understand that Joe Biden looked other way while all the jobs got shipped on China.  So, I think as he gets forced to Democratic primary, he’s going to get eaten up on China.  And I think you’re start see some people on the Democratic Party go after him.Now, I will say something about Bernie Sanders.  Bernie Sanders had every opportunity in 2016 with all the information out there in “Clinton Cash”.  The book, the movie, the research side, he never went after Hillary Clinton.  I kept saying Bernie Sanders had a pillow fight.  It was Donald Trump that took a tour.  When I go to the campaign, we went after Hillary Clinton every day on her corruption, and her incompetence, and Bernie Sanders, and Bernie Sanders — all the supporters were so disappointed in ’16, they ought to get on Bernie Sanders every day and ask why is he not on Joe Biden’s being compromised by the Chinese communist party?  

REGAN:  As you look at that landscape, who would you say is biggest threat for Donald Trump in 2020? 

BANNON:  Well, listen, since I think these election are now about persuasion but mobilization, and looking off of ’18, well, they did a great job, remember in the House races, they beat us 52-46, I think they got six or eight million votes more, ‘18 should be studied in detail.  It’s about mobilization.They have some terrific young candidates, but nobody has broken out.  I think one of the reasons they are in single digits, is Kamala Harris, Mayor Pete, Beto, across the board, they are running like they are running for student council president.  You know, they are not talking about China.  They’re not talking about Iran.  They’re not talking about Venezuela.  This is a very dangerous world right now, and President Trump has got a very same (ph) policy he’s going through.  This is almost like 1930s to a degree.  We’re going through a dark valley against very tough individuals, and a lot of — as President Trump calls them bad hombres, OK?  And you hear debates, and you hear people like — it was like, United States exists on an island.  That is not the case.  I think what Kamala and Pete and these others, to get any traction, you have to say — you have to remember, you are running to be commander in chief of the greatest nation on earth, and you got to start talking about it, and engaging on it.  Right now, I think it looks like Bernie and Biden — Biden has got to be forced in, got to be forced back into Democratic primary.  He is getting a total free pass right now.  He’s running a general election strategy.  So, I don’t think that — I don’t think that anybody is emerged yet because I don’t think they are down into it enough.  But I think if the Democrats, to get more traction, what they’re going to have to do is at least act as a counter to President Trump’s pretty well-thought through policies particularly on China.  President Trump has got a very set geostrategic plan here, and you’re not hearing anything really from Democrats right now.  So, I think it’s got to be — you’re to have to see how this thing develops.

REGAN:  Oh, for sure.  It’s economic.  It’s political.Let me turn to Iran.  Things are heating up with Iran right now.  Where do you see this heading?  I mean, could — this is a president who’s really kind of made a point of not wanting to engage our military in anything that might be considered needless.  However, if provoked, a whole different story.So, what does it mean with Iran today?  

BANNON:  Well, listen, I think remember, President Trump ran on — we spend $7 trillion in Middle East on wars that we didn’t win.  The American people — one reason he is president because of this managed decline by the elites.  President Trump is not an isolationist.  America First is not — you know, all the people in the Democratic Party, opposition policies (ph), he’s not isolationist.  He’s noninterventionist, because we saw where intervention got us in last 20 years.And President Trump I think in Venezuela and Iran, I think he’s too — his idea and I think what he is thinking through is the right way to go.  He put economic sanctions on it if we put secondary sanctions, I think you could break the mullahs.  You know, as a young naval officer, I was on a destroyer on a carrier battle group up there off of Iran back in ’79 during the hostage situation.  I can tell you, it’s pretty hostile.  I don’t think — I think getting ahead of yourselves militarily is not the way to go.  I’m a big believer in nonintervention but a big believer in peace through strength, and taken it to people when you have to take it to them, like in China. I think Iran, President Trump had right plan.  I don’t know what advisory thing is.  I know what I read in the papers and some of the scuttlebutt I hear.  But I think that President Trump has now got his vision and what he wants to do in Iran.  I don’t think there will be military conflict there, I think there will be a lot of saber-rattling.  I think the same thing in Venezuela.  These are situations that I don’t think the American people want us directly involved in, although they want them handled.  (CROSSTALK)

REGAN:  I hear you — I mean, using the military —  

BANNON:  And President Trump understands economic warfare because he’s a businessman, better than anybody I know.REGAN:  It’s a path that I don’t think that anyone would want to go down.  To risk lives, I’ve always said, I’d rather lose, you know, dollars than lives.  And there is a lot that can done with economic sanctions.  But we’ve got a report out tonight that Russians are out there trying to restructure Venezuela’s debt.  And, by the way, there are some — ton of oil to us right now.  Their oil sales are way up, why, because we can’t take any from Venezuela.So, as you think about strategically, the western hemisphere, obviously, we don’t want to be using our military in any way, shape or form.  But how do we get some kind of resolution there so that we have some kind of a relationship with Venezuela, and, look, I mean, it’s got oil that would rival Saudi Arabia actually, proven reserves in the Orinoco, a third more than Saudi Arabia.  

BANNON:  Look, Russia is a troublemaker, they’re always going to try to be causing trouble, right?  China is the one to worry about, and China is also getting involved there.  Obviously, Cuba.  I think it, first, is front line nations.  It’s Brazil.  It’s Colombia.  You have to do this in partnership.  You know, we have to have to clean (ph) this type of stuff up but we can’t do it with military intervention.  I think actually the situation that happened (ph) a couple of weeks ago I think was embarrassing.  And I don’t think the United States should be involved in things like that.We’ve had to have a very well-thought through thing, because here’s what’s going to happen — when civil society implodes in Venezuela, the payback I think is going to be pretty horrific.  You have the Chavistas, you’ve had — this is a very troubled society right below the surface.  You have to be careful what you do, and we have to have buy in by the front line nations.  We have to have Bolsonaro in Brazil, we have to have the populists in Colombia on our side.  It has to be a very well thought plan.Here’s my big concern about the interventionists.  They are good at getting us in the situations.  They’re not so good about thinking through about how you hold and they’re certainly not very good about getting out.  I think Venezuela takes a lot of thought, but absolutely.  You know, we have to be involved, but get to (ph) in a reflective way.   I don’t think backing some guy with a bullhorn, and nine soldiers behind him is the way to go.  We have to very reflective.  And I think the pressure ports show that the president is saying, whoa, whoa, whoa, let’s think this through.  Let’s think Venezuela through.  And let’s thing think Iran through very thoroughly and let’s use our economic power to bring about a resolution.

REGAN:  Well, it’s something he knows how to do.  Steve, it is great talking to you.  I really appreciate you joining me tonight.  

BANNON:  Trish — well, Trish, thanks for having me on.REGAN:  It’s good stuff.  Steve Bannon, live from Paris.  END

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