Jan 5, 2018

Steve Bannon's strange "obsession" with Andrew Weissmann

Photo: Jim Watson / Getty Images

Sources who've spoken to Steve Bannon tell me they're perplexed by his apparent fixation on Andrew Weissmann — the Russia investigation prosecutor described as Robert Mueller's "pit bull."

The intrigue: What's raised the eyebrows of some who've heard Bannon hold court about Weissmann is that he refers to him only positively and with great admiration.

"He obsesses on Weissmann in a positive way, labeling him a 'killer' which is his [Bannon's] highest form of compliment," said one source who's spoken to Bannon about the prosecutor.

  • "He [Bannon] would give the impression he had an inside knowledge of what was going with the [Mueller] investigation," the source added. "I've never heard him once utter a criticism of Weissmann, which is odd.

A second source confirmed that Bannon had spoken this way about Weissmann.

In Michael Wolff's explosive new book, "Fire and Fury," he quotes Bannon as saying:

  • "You realize where this is going ... This is all about money laundering. Mueller chose (senior prosecutor Andrew) Weissmann first and he is a money-laundering guy," Bannon reportedly said: "Their path to f***ing Trump goes right through Paul Manafort, Don Jr., and Jared Kushner ... It's as plain as a hair on your face."
  • Wolff also quotes Bannon saying this of Mueller hiring Weissmann: "You've got the LeBron James of money laundering investigations on you, Jarvanka. My a---hole just got so tight!"

Sources who've spoken to Bannon about the Mueller probe say he's telling everyone that Mueller's team hasn't contacted him and that he's told them nothing.

A source close to Bannon told Axios: "Steve has zero relationship with Weissmann. If he speaks with knowledge it is for being a voracious reader of the news."

Bannon declined to comment on the record when contacted for this story.

Go deeper

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 7 p.m. ET: 5,383,582 — Total deaths: 344,077 — Total recoveries — 2,158,031Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 7 p.m. ET: 1,640,972 — Total deaths: 97,679 — Total recoveries: 366,736 — Total tested: 14,163,195Map.
  3. World: White House announces travel restrictions on Brazil, coronavirus hotspot in Southern Hemisphere Over 100 coronavirus cases in Germany tied to single day of church services — Boris Johnson backs top aide amid reports that he broke U.K. lockdown while exhibiting symptoms.
  4. Public health: Officials are urging Americans to wear masks headed into Memorial Day weekend Report finds "little evidence" coronavirus under control in most statesHurricanes, wildfires, the flu could strain COVID-19 response
  5. Economy: White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett says it's possible the unemployment rate could still be in double digits by November's election — Public employees brace for layoffs.
  6. Federal government: Trump attacks a Columbia University study that suggests earlier lockdown could have saved 36,000 American lives.
  7. What should I do? Hydroxychloroquine questions answeredTraveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it, the right mask to wear.

Subscribe to Mike Allen's Axios AM to follow our coronavirus coverage each morning from your inbox.

Updated 26 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Federal judge strikes down Florida law requiring felons to pay fines before voting

Gov. Ron DeSantis. Photo: oe Raedle/Getty Images

A federal judge on Sunday ruled that a Florida law requiring convicted felons to pay all court fines and fees before registering to vote is unconstitutional.

Why it matters: The ruling, which will likely be appealed by state Republicans, would clear the way for hundreds of thousands of ex-felons in Florida to register to vote ahead of November's election.

White House announces new coronavirus travel restrictions on Brazil

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro with Trump, March 19, 2019. Photo: Jim Lo Scalzo-Pool via Getty Images

The White House announced that beginning at 11:59 pm ET on Thursday, President Trump would suspend entry of non-U.S. citizens who have been in Brazil in the past 14 days in an effort to stop the imported spread of the coronavirus.

Why it matters: Brazil has reported nearly 350,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus — the second-most in the world behind the U.S. — and has emerged as a Southern Hemisphere hotspot as other heavily affected countries in Asia and Europe have managed to get their outbreaks under control.