Bannon set up Trump-Gabbard meeting

Bannon set up Trump-Gabbard meeting
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Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden slams Trump over golf gif hitting Clinton Trump Jr. declines further Secret Service protection: report Report: Mueller warned Manafort to expect an indictment MORE’s chief strategist Steve Bannon contacted Tulsi GabbardTulsi GabbardThe OFF Act will mandate a swift and just transition to clean energy House panel approves 6.5B defense policy bill Jane Sanders starts group to boost ‘progressive voices’ MORE to arrange Monday’s meeting with the president-elect, according to a source close to Bannon.

“He reached out to her, not vice versa,” the source told The Hill on Monday.

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Many in the media raised their eyebrows when the news broke that Trump was meeting at Trump Tower Monday morning with Hawaii’s Democratic congresswoman.

But for those who know Bannon best, there was no surprise at all.

Bannon, who hates the entrenched two-party system, has long admired Gabbard. She’s an Iraq War veteran with an independent streak. Bannon, a navy veteran, was drawn to her when she began publicly excoriating the Obama administration over its plan to defeat ISIS.

“He loves Tulsi Gabbard. Loves her,” a second source familiar with Bannon’s thinking told The Hill. “Wants to work with her on everything.”

“She would fit perfectly too [inside the administration],” the source added. “She gets the foreign policy stuff, the Islamic terrorism stuff.”

Bannon appreciates Gabbard’s willingness to publicly criticize President Obama for refusing to name the enemy, “radical Islamic terrorism.” 

“For him it’s a win-win when a Democrat is saying those things,” said a third source, who used to work under Bannon at Breitbart News.

In a text message to The Hill on Monday, a source close to Bannon said the chief strategist is "big on getting Iraq / Afghanistan war veterans in the administration."
 
As chairman of Breitbart, Bannon rarely left his reporters guessing about what he thought about a political issue or politician. He would tell his staff, in what were often expletive-laden and abrupt phone calls, exactly what he thought about whatever was on his mind, according to multiple sources who worked under him. 

It appears that Bannon’s view of Gabbard as an ally was shared by the Breitbart team.

A search of "Gabbard" in the Breitbart News archive turns up five pages of archived stories, many of them reported over the past year.

The stories highlight Gabbard’s criticism of the Obama administration over its plans to defeat ISIS, including the president’s convening of a White House summit on violent extremism, an event Gabbard described on Fox News as a “diversion from what our real focus needs to be.” 

Other Breitbart stories on Gabbard note her full-throated support for Israel, her support for the Kurds and her backing of a bill that would make it all but impossible to admit Syrian refugees into the U.S.

Gabbard meshes with Trump’s foreign policy views in that she vehemently opposes U.S.-led regime change. She argues the U.S. government has no business removing from power the brutal Syrian dictator Bashar Assad.

In the statement she released following her meeting with Trump, Gabbard said she “felt it important to take the opportunity to meet with the President-elect now before the drumbeats of war that neocons have been beating drag us into an escalation of the war to overthrow the Syrian government.”

Describing her conversation with Trump as “frank and positive,” Gabbard said she shared with him her “grave concerns that escalating the war in Syria by implementing a so-called no fly/safe zone would be disastrous for the Syrian people, our country, and the world.” 

“It would lead,” she added, “to more death and suffering, exacerbate the refugee crisis, strengthen ISIS and al-Qaeda, and bring us into a direct conflict with Russia which could result in a nuclear war.”

A Trump transition source told The Hill on Monday that Gabbard could potentially fill “a number of positions” inside the incoming administration. CNN and the New York Times have reported that she’s under consideration for United Nations ambassador. CNN also reported that she’s under consideration for State and Defense.

“Let me be clear,” Gabbard said in her statement, “I will never allow partisanship to undermine our national security when the lives of countless people lay in the balance.”