GOP congressman defends Bannon: He got a 'very bad rap'

GOP congressman defends Bannon: He got a 'very bad rap'
© Greg Nash

Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.) lamented White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon's departure from the administration Friday, defending the controversial aide and conservative media figure against accusations of racism. 

"Steve Bannon, especially what we've seen since last year's campaign, is getting a really bad rap, characterizing him as a racist," Zeldin said on Friday during an interview on Fox News.
 
"That's just not accurate from the person that I have had an opportunity to spend some time with." 
 
Zeldin, one of the two Jewish Republican members of Congress, said that he's heard Bannon "passionately advocating" against anti-Semitism on college campuses.
 
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"He's passionately pro-Israel, very consistent with the president's vision in regards to trade policy or moving in a better direction on the Iran nuclear deal. He's someone who brought a lot of talent and wisdom. He understands world history like few others do in this country." 
 
Bannon's stunning departure ended his controversial tenure in the White House — he played a major role in President Trump's embrace of populism during the campaign and in his administration. Yet he's faced criticism from those both inside and outside of the White House, particularly after last week's white supremacist rally in Virginia renewed focus on the "alt-right."
 
Bannon once described Breitbart News, the news outlet he once ran, as the primary platform for the alt-right.