Andrew Harnik / AP

On Tuesday night, while Gary Cohn was fuming about President Trump's latest comments, Steve Bannon was excitedly telling friends and associates that the "globalists" were in mass freakout mode.

  • Today, Bannon reveled in the disbanding of the president's business council, seeing this as yet more evidence that the Trump administration is at odds with the "Davos crowd," as Bannon often calls these corporate elites, in a voice dripping with contempt.
  • Bannon saw Trump's now-infamous Tuesday afternoon press conference not as the lowest point in his presidency, but as a "defining moment," where Trump decided to fully abandon the "globalists" and side with "his people."
  • Per a source with knowledge: "Steve was proud of how [Trump] stood up to the braying mob of reporters" in the Tuesday press conference.

This account of Bannon's thinking has come from conversations with his friends and associates who've been in touch with him since the racist carnage in Charlottesville.

Bannon has not meaningfully advised the president about his response to Charlottesville. He's still on the outs with Trump, who has been calling him a leaker for weeks, though the president described Bannon as a good person on Tuesday.

  • They spoke by phone on Saturday, Sunday and Monday, according to a source with knowledge of the calls, but the response to Charlottesville has been all Trump, and Trump at his purest.
  • On the phone to Bannon, Trump asked his chief strategist "where does it end?" according to a source with knowledge of their conversations.
  • Trump wasn't referring to the white supremacists, but to the counter-protesters whom the president believes are on a slippery slope towards "changing history" by tearing down monuments of Confederate heroes and potentially, he has said, the Founding Fathers like George Washington, who owned slaves.

Bannon, who is in New York today, has a view of Trump's Charlottesville response that horrifies many of his West Wing colleagues:

  • Unlike some of Trump's other top aides — who have varied on a spectrum between frustration and disgust since the president's Charlottesville remarks — Bannon has unapologetically supported Trump's instinct to apportion blame to "both sides."
  • Sources who've spoken with Bannon since Charlottesville say he views this moment as analogous to the campaign moment when Hillary Clinton condemned half of Trump's supporters to a "basket of deplorables."
  • Bannon believes that if Trump condemned all the people who protested the pulling down of the Robert E. Lee statue then he'd fall into a trap set by leftists, the establishments of both parties, and the mainstream media. (Some of Bannon's colleagues say this is an absurd argument. They point out it was a crowd of white supremacists holding tiki torches and chanting racist slogans, and that this is no time for the president to be searching for the "fine people" in the group. They say Trump should be condemning the tiki torch crowd unequivocally and leaving the debate over statues and free speech to another, less racially-heated, day.)

Bottom line: Both Trump and Bannon are of one mind, and, within the White House at least, theirs is a minority view. They saw the backlash to Charlottesville as an example of political correctness run amok and instinctively searched for "their" people in that group of protesters. Bannon has told associates that Trump, on Tuesday afternoon, took it to the next level for the country by asking where does it end? He especially loved Trump's line: "I wonder, is it George Washington next week?"

Go deeper

Updated 39 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 2 p.m. ET: 12,573,041 — Total deaths: 561,865 — Total recoveries — 6,915,740Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 2 p.m. ET: 3,213,902 — Total deaths: 134,420 — Total recoveries: 983,185 — Total tested: 38,919,421Map.
  3. Public health: Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter: "Please wear a mask to save lives" Fauci hasn't briefed Trump on the coronavirus pandemic in at least two months — We're losing the war on the coronavirus.
  4. Food: How the coronavirus pandemic boosted alternative meat.
  5. Sports: Charge of "money grab" by college football.
  6. World: India reimposes lockdowns as coronavirus cases soar.
  7. 🎧 Podcast: Rural America has its own coronavirus problem.

Scoop: Don Jr. plans convention-week Biden book

Cover via Don Jr.

Donald Trump Jr., in quarantine since girlfriend Kimberly Guilfoyle tested positive for the coronavirus, says he's used the time to finish a book that he'll self-publish the week of the Republican convention, at the end of August.

What he's saying: Don Jr., whose controversial blasts connect with President Trump's base, told me in a phone interview that "Liberal Privilege" will be his effort to paint a picture of Joe Biden and his record that the press ignores.

Romney calls Stone commutation "historic corruption"

Sen. Mitt Romney. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) on Saturday tweeted a scathing response to President Trump's Friday night commutation of former associate Roger Stone's prison sentence, calling the move "[u]nprecedented, historic corruption."

Why it matters: Romney has emerged as the party's most prominent Trump critic. He sent shockwaves through Washington after announcing he would vote to convict Trump in the impeachment trial — becoming the only Senate Republican to break ranks and vote for the president's removal from office. Now he is the first major GOP lawmaker to condemn Trump's Friday night call regarding Stone.