Bannon unfazed by criticism of Trump appointment

Bannon unfazed by criticism of Trump appointment
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Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpGrassroots America shows the people support Donald Trump Trump speaks to rebel Libyan general attacking Tripoli Dem lawmaker: Mueller report shows 'substantial body of evidence' on obstruction MORE's chief strategist, Stephen Bannon, is unfazed by the negative attention surrounding his White House appointment and feels no obligation to make peace with anyone in the Republican Party, according to two allies.

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Bannon, the controversial former chairman of Breitbart News, has been holed up in an office at Trump Tower in recent days, taking a procession of meetings and phone calls as part of the transition effort.

All the while, he has been assailed by Democrats and civil rights groups who have called him everything from a white nationalist to a racist to an anti-Semite. Scores of Democrats in Congress have urged Trump to fire him.

The controversy surrounding his appointment has been so great that Bannon has even been featured on an episode of South Park.

Despite the criticism, sources close to Bannon say he’s not deviating an inch from the nationalist populist movement that propelled Trump to the presidency. If anything, he finds the negative attention motivating.

“He gets a kick out of that stuff,” said a source close to Bannon.

“He doesn’t care. He’s just doing what he has to do.”

A number of Trump allies have publicly defended Bannon this week, arguing the media characterization of hims is unfair and wrong. Israel's ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer said Bannon is someone he looks forward to collaborating with.

That defense came after Democrats assailed Bannon, citing statements from his past and from people who know him.  They have highlighted comments from his ex-wife, who alleged in divorce proceedings that Bannon said didn't want his children to attend a Los Angeles school because of “the number of Jews.” Bannon through a spokeswoman has denied ever saying that.

In a new interview with the Hollywood Reporter, Bannon also pushed back on the assertions that he's a white nationalist.

"I’m not a white nationalist, I’m a nationalist," Bannon said. "I’m an economic nationalist."

At the same time, Bannon used the interview to embrace his image as an outsider.

"Darkness is good,” he said. “Dick Cheney. Darth Vader. Satan. That’s power. It only helps us when they get it wrong. When they’re blind to who we are and what we’re doing.”

Meanwhile, as Trump interviews candidates for administration positions, Bannon has spoken to or met with a number of prominent Republicans, including Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzBooker, Harris have missed most Senate votes O'Rourke sweeps through Virginia looking to energize campaign Disney to donate million to rebuild Notre Dame MORE (R-Texas) and Reps. Steve Scalise (La.), Steve King (Iowa) and Kevin McCarthy (Calif.).

While some have suggested that Bannon might be trying to make peace with the Republican establishment, a second source close to Bannon said he's doing nothing of the kind.

“He’s got no intention of making peace with anybody,” the source said.

The source stressed that Bannon has not apologized to anyone and has no intention of doing so — and that extends to Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanFEC filing: No individuals donated to indicted GOP rep this cycle The Hill's Morning Report - Waiting on Mueller: Answers come on Thursday Paul Ryan joins University of Notre Dame faculty MORE (R-Wis.), a figure Bannon attacked ferociously with negative coverage at Breitbart.

“If any member of the establishment who weren’t on the team want to work together with the president-elect on the policies which he’s outlined, that’s great,” the source told The Hill on Thursday, when asked about Bannon’s relationship with Ryan.

“There is no apology tour or effort to focus on whether individual members in the House or Senate feel good,” the source added. “Donald Trump won a mandate from the American people who want to see the swamp drained.”

Despite the signs of a natural progression from Trump’s campaign, some pundits in Washington continue to predict that Trump’s administration’s will ultimately be a kinder, gentler affair.

Those who know Bannon best laugh at that suggestion, citing Breitbart’s longstanding motto: “Honey badger don’t give a s---.”

“Bannon has gone full honey badger,” said a Bannon ally. “He cares not what anyone in the swamp thinks of him. He’s on the hunt and he’s going to drain the swamp.”

Earlier this week, Breitbart News staff got wind that liberal protesters were planning to demonstrate outside Bannon’s Capitol Hill townhouse, which doubles as the Breitbart workspace.

The Breitbart response was straight from the playbook of the White House’s incoming chief strategist.

They hung a picture of a honey badger on the door.