Former White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon says he is "fascinated" by former Italian dictator Benito Mussolini.
In an interview published Friday in the British magazine The Spectator, Bannon praised the fascist strongman's "virility" and "fashion sense," calling him a "guy's guy."
"He was clearly loved by women. He was a guy’s guy. He has all that virility," Bannon said. "He also had amazing fashion sense, right, that whole thing with the uniforms. I’m fascinated by Mussolini."
Bannon, who is touring Europe, has faced accusations in the U.S. of promoting racist and fascist politics, though he has identified himself as a populist. He told The Spectator that "fascism" was a term used to smear populism.
He also insisted that the two — populism and fascism — "are not even related."
"Populism, fascism, who cares? It’s a media smear of the populist movement," he said.
Bannon was forced out of the White House last August after White House chief of staff John KellyJohn Francis KellyMORE was given broad authority to clean house in a West Wing that had been hobbled by infighting and leaks.
Bannon returned to his position as executive chairman of Breitbart following the ouster but was forced out of that position in January following quotes he made in the book “Fire and Fury.”
Bannon was quoted making disparaging remarks about President TrumpDonald TrumpSanders calls out Manchin, Sinema ahead of filibuster showdown Laura Ingraham 'not saying' if she'd support Trump in 2024 The Hill's 12:30 Report: Djokovic may not compete in French Open over vaccine requirement MORE's family and was a primary source for the book, which was a political headache for the White House.