When Donald Trump’s campaign announced that Steve Bannon, of Breitbart News notoriety, had joined the team as CEO, it was a striking development in its own right. With this staffing move, the Republican presidential hopeful had taken an alarming step in giving the far-right fringe a leadership role on the GOP’s national ticket.
But the specific details surrounding Bannon matter, too. Rachel reported on Friday’s show, for example, that Trump’s campaign CEO was arrested and charged with domestic violence 20 years ago – prosecutors ultimately had to drop the charges when Bannon’s then-wife failed to show up for testimony. She also accused him of making anti-Semitic comments, which he denies having made.
New controversies continue to emerge. BuzzFeed reported overnight, for example, that Bannon and a former colleague were also “accused of sexual harassment in a 1990s court case.”
The suit was related to Bannon’s time as director of Biosphere 2, a research facility located in Oracle, Arizona, that aimed to simulate the surface of Mars…. The suit, filed by Biosphere 2’s former director Margret Augustine, named [Texas billionaire Edward Bass, the project’s financial backer] as the primary defendant. Bannon and a fellow banker, Martin Bowen, were also named and accused of having acted as his agents. […][T]he most explosive allegations were that Bannon and Bowen, had made sexually suggestive remarks and lewd remarks toward her, and had disparaged female employees of the research facility.
Bannon and Bowen have denied any wrongdoing.
BuzzFeed also reported yesterday on anti-gay slurs Bannon used during an on-air interview in 2011.
Noting the series of allegations, The New Republic’s Eric Kleefeld made the case the other day that Trump hiring Bannon “might go down as the worst campaign hire of all time.”
There’s probably some truth to that, but there’s also a larger context to consider: did Team Trump fully appreciate just who they were bringing on board as the campaign’s CEO?
The New York Times explained over the weekend, “Donald J. Trump has called for ‘extreme vetting’ to determine who is allowed to enter the United States, but when it comes to his presidential campaign, he has shown a propensity to be lenient when it comes to the kinds of red flags that might scare off other candidates.”
We may never know for sure, but it seems there are two root questions to be considered: (1) Did he or his team do any research whatsoever on Bannon before making him the campaign’s chief executive officer? (2) Would Trump have hired him anyway, despite the controversies?