US President Donald Trump is facing a “coup” and the country was facing a crisis comparable only to that faced by former President Abraham Lincoln during the US Civil War, according to former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon.
In an interview with Reuters in Rome, Italy, Bannon said the coup was highlighted by an anonymous column in The New York Times detailing resistance within the Trump administration.
“What you saw the other day was as serious as it can get. This is a direct attack on the institutions,” Bannon said. “This is a coup, okay?”
The Times column was published on Wednesday and was written by an unnamed senior administration official, plunging Trump’s presidency into its worst crisis yet.
The writer blasted Trump’s “amorality” and said: “Many of the senior officials in his own administration are working diligently from within to frustrate parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations.”
Bannon, who was Trump’s election campaign manager and White House strategist, said the last time an American president had been challenged in such a manner was during the US Civil War when General George McClellan clashed with the then-president, Abraham Lincoln.
“This is a crisis. The country has only ever had such a crisis in the summer of 1862 when General McClellan and the senior generals, all Democrats in the Union Army, deemed that Abraham Lincoln was not fit and not competent to be commander in chief,” Bannon said.
Trump urged the US Justice Department on Friday to find out who wrote the piece, adding that it was an issue of national security.
Bannon was fired by Trump in August, 2017 after he fell out with the president’s more mainstream advisers over his efforts to bend the Republican Party to his own economic nationalist agenda.
Bannon said he had resigned from his position and told CBS News at the time that the “Republican establishment” was looking to nullify the 2016 presidential election and neuter Trump.
“There is a cabal of Republican establishment figures who believe Donald Trump is not fit to be president of the United States. This is a crisis,” Bannon said.
“I am not a conspiracy guy ... I have said there is no deep state. It is an in-your-face state."