WASHINGTON, D.C. — Steve Bannon, giving his first extended interview to “60 Minutes,” after his resignation from the White House, criticized Catholic Church leaders who condemned President Donald Trump’s decision to end the program that allowed young undocumented immigrants to stay in the U.S.
Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York was among those who spoke out after the decision.
But speaking to Charlie Rose, Bannon said “the bishops have been terrible about this. By the way, you know why? You know why? Because unable to really — to — come to grips with the problems in the church, they need illegal aliens, they need illegal aliens to fill the churches. That’s — it’s obvious on the face of it. The entire Catholic Bishops condemn him.”
Bannon said that the church has “an economic interest in unlimited immigration, unlimited illegal immigration. … As much as I respect Cardinal Dolan and the Bishops on doctrine, this is not doctrine. This is not doctrine at all.”
He added, “This is about the sovereignty of a nation. And in that regard, they’re just another guy with an opinion.”
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, put in place by President Barack Obama’s 2012 executive order, allowed children who were under 16 years old when they came to the United States to say in the country and work here under a set of conditions.
Bannon defended Trump’s decision, even though he said he did not agree with it. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced on Tuesday that the program would be phased out, unless Congress comes up with a legislative solution in the next six months. After Trump faced criticism and protests throughout the day, he tweeted on Tuesday that he would “revisit” the DACA program in six months, if there is no congressional action.
“I understand how he struggled with it, I understand how he’s giving the possibility of a legislative thing,” Bannon said. “And he said even last night in a Tweet — even in a Tweet, he would rethink it. Trust me, the guys in the far right, the guys on the conservative side are not happy with this.”
CBS News released excerpts of the interview that ran on “CBS This Morning.” The full interview will air on Sunday.
Bannon also told Rose that his public image is “pretty accurate” and that he was a “street fighter.”
“And by the way, I think that’s why Donald Trump and I get along so well. I’m going to be his wing man outside for the entire time,” he said.
He told Rose that he would “make sure his enemies know that there’s no free shot on goal.”
Bannon also defended Trump’s response to the Charlottesville violence. Trump was criticized for not immediately calling out white supremacists groups who took part, and for equating their actions to those of the counter-protesters. But Trump also questioned the movement to remove Confederate statues.
Bannon said that what Trump “was trying to say is that people that support the monument staying there peacefully and people that oppose that, that’s the normal course of — of First Amendment. When he’s talking about the Neo-Nazis and Neo-Confederates and the Klan, who, by the way, are absolutely awful — there’s no room in American politics for that. There’s no room in American society for that. And all Donald Trump was saying is, ‘Where does it end? Does it end in taking down the Washington Monument? Does it end in taking down Mount Rushmore? Does it end at taking Churchill’s bust out of the Oval Office?'”
He said that he was the “only guy who came out and tried to defend him,” while other members of the administration expressed their dismay as unnamed sources or, in the case of economic adviser Gary Cohn, publicly.
Bannon said that “if you don’t like what he’s doing and you don’t agree with it, you have an obligation to resign.” Rose asked him whether Cohn should have resigned and Bannon answered, “Absolutely.”