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Bannon v. McConnell over Roy Moore

Photo: Ringo H.W. Chiu, J. Scott Applewhite / AP

Steve Bannon has dispatched Breitbart reporters to Alabama with a mission to discredit Roy Moore's accusers, just as Mitch McConnell has been stepping up his efforts to force Moore from the race. The Bannon vs. McConnell feud has been heating up ever since Bannon left the White House, and he said last week that he hopes to help force McConnell out as Majority Leader within a next year.

Be smart: Alabama is likely the first of many Bannon v. McConnell proxy wars. Bannon plans to use Breitbart's platform and his alliance with billionaire donor Robert Mercer to challenge Republican incumbents in 2018. This isn't about right vs. left for Bannon, it's about dismantling the "political establishment."

  • In August, shortly after leaving the White House, Bannon told The Economist, "I'm going to light him up," in reference to McConnell.
  • Bannon has since started a Civil War within the GOP centered on 2018 elections by backing opposition candidates to Republican incumbents. Bannon requires potential candidates to promise public opposition to McConnell. It's become a litmus test for his support. (More on that.)
  • Early last month, a former McConnell aide called Bannon a white supremacist, which Bannon backers used to fuel antagonism toward the Majority Leader.
  • The Senate Leadership Fund, a super PAC aligned with McConnell, announced plans to fight back against Bannon's 2018 efforts, attacking him personally and spending millions of dollars on traditional GOP candidates.
  • Earlier this month, Mercer — who has been a significant funder for Bannon and Breitbart's war against McConnell — released a statement saying that he does not always agree with him.
  • Bannon told the New York Times last week, "I have an objective that Mitch McConnell will not be majority leader, and I believe will be done before this time next year."
  • Breitbart reporters Matt Boyle and Aaron Klein went to Alabama to discredit sexual assault allegations against Roy Moore, and Axios' Jonathan Swan wrote yesterday, "I expect more counter-attacks will play out in Breitbart News and other outlets over the coming days."
  • Today, McConnell called for Moore to step down, saying, "I believe the women."
  • Recent Breitbart headlines: "Mitch McConnell Folds Under Populist Pressure, Extends Senate Workweek" "Mitch McConnell Leads Establishment Republicans in Effort to Push Roy Moore Out of Alabama Race" "Swamp Triggered as Steve Bannon Eyes 2018 Coalition to Challenge Establishment Lawmakers" "Steve Bannon Slams McConnell's 'Outrageous' Lack of Support for Trump Agenda" "Quin Hillyer: Mitch McConnell Helped Create Mess in Alabama"
Mike Allen 30 mins ago
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Why Trump added a streetfighter to his legal team

Screenshot via Fox News

A new addition to President Trump's legal team — Joe diGenova, a former U.S. attorney who is well-known in Washington and has argued for the president on Fox News — reflects three White House realities.

The state of play: (1) The White House is digging in for a fight that looks to be longer and messier than officials had expected. (2) This is another example of the president responding to televised cues. Trump has spent most of his adult life in litigation, and obsesses about legal positioning in the same way that he is consumed by his press coverage. (3) It's another pugilistic voice at the table, and suggests that this weekend's attacks on Mueller won't be the last.

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Facebook reaches a tipping point

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios 

Of all the news crises Facebook has faced during the past year, the Cambridge Analytica scandal is playing out to be the worst and most damaging.

Why it matters: It's not that the reports reveal anything particularly new about how Facebook's back end works — developers have understood the vulnerabilities of Facebook's interface for years. But stakeholders crucial to the company's success — as well as the public seem less willing to listen to its side of the story this time around.