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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

36 mins ago - Technology

Scoop: Facebook exec warns of "more bad headlines"

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

In a post to staffers Saturday obtained by Axios, Facebook VP of global affairs Nick Clegg warned the company that worse coverage could be on the way: “We need to steel ourselves for more bad headlines in the coming days, I’m afraid.”

Catch up quick: Roughly two dozen news outlets had agreed to hold stories based on leaked materials from Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen for Monday publication — but the embargo fell apart Friday night as participating newsrooms posted a batch of articles ahead of the weekend.

"Atmospheric river" to whiplash Northern California from drought to flood

A map depicting 24-hour preciptation forecast (inches) ending Monday at 5a.m. local time. Photo: NOAA

A series of powerful "atmospheric river" storms are set dump historic amounts of rainfall across parts of drought-stricken California and the Pacific Northwest from this weekend, forecasters warn.

Why it matters: A strong atmospheric river, packing large amounts of moisture, is predicted to whiplash Northern California from drought to flood.

Inside Biden's Taiwan flubs

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Twice this year, President Biden has blurted out commitments that the U.S. is prepared to defend Taiwan against a Chinese invasion — forcing the White House to walk back his statements and leading to confusion over a high-stakes national security policy.

Why it matters: U.S. defense officials have publicly aired their concerns that China will take Taiwan by force in the next four to six years, perhaps sooner. The president's position on this question may soon have real-world, life and death consequences.