Steve Bannon, who’s never been accused of a lack of chutzpah, is displaying it big-time in an interview for 60 Minutes, claiming that voters didn’t care about Donald Trump’s “grab them by the pussy” remarks in the infamous leaked Access Hollywood tape.
“People didn’t care,” the former Trump campaign chairman and White House adviser told Charlie Rose in the interview, which will air Sunday; a clip was released today on CBS This Morning. “They knew Donald Trump was just doing locker room talk with a guy. And they dismissed it. It had no lasting impact on the campaign. Yet if you see the mainstream media that day, it was, literally, he was falling into Dante’s Inferno.”
But there is ample evidence that the public did care. After the 2005 tape, in which Trump bragged to host Billy Bush about being able to get away with such assaults because he’s “a star,” leaked in October, denunciation was swift. And it came not just the mainstream media or politicians — both Democrats and Republicans lambasted the Republican presidential candidate — but from ordinary people in the U.S. and around the world.
Anti-Trump memes filled social media, such as pictures of a snarling cat with the words “Pussy Grabs Back” and the “Don’t Tread on Me” snake image that dates to the American Revolution, with the words changed to “Don’t Grab My Pussy.” Twitter users called the conversation “a classic case study in white-male privileged misogynist attitudes” and a clear indication of Trump’s vile character. It inspired several women to come forward with accusations that Trump had assaulted them.
Yes, Trump went on to win the election via the Electoral College, possibly with a little help from his friends in Russia, but let us not forget that Hillary Clinton received three million more votes than he did in the popular vote count.
And January 21, the day after his inauguration, women and enlightened men protested Trump’s misogynistic ways by participating in Women’s Marches in Washington, D.C., other U.S. cities, and worldwide. The event was the largest single-day protest in U.S. history. Many marchers wore “pussy hats,” pink knitted hats with cat ears, in reference to Trump’s reprehensible remarks.
Bannon has his own checkered history with women, having been accused of domestic violence — his former wife dropped charges against him, but perhaps under pressure to do so — and sexual harassment and assault. For example, a woman who worked with him at Biosphere 2 in the 1990s said Bannon came on to her quite aggressively. He “held my wrist tightly and told me that once I’d done it with him I’d never want to do it with anyone else,” she said.
In the 60 Minutes interview, Bannon also told Rose that whether politicians stood by Trump in the Access Hollywood fallout was a “litmus test” of their loyalty. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie failed to do so, Bannon said, and that was why he was not offered a Cabinet post. But there’s also the matter, not addressed, at least in the advance clip from 60 Minutes, that as U.S. attorney for New Jersey in the mid-2000s, Christie successfully prosecuted Charles Kushner, father of Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner, for tax evasion and other charges. The elder Kushner went to prison for two years.
Watch the clip below.