So let’s just start with the back story, the Steve Bannon kid, the brawler, your brother said. In what way?
Well, I mean, it’s a—our neighborhood became, it was kind of, you know, white, working class, lower middle class,
old, internal suburb of an old city, Richmond [Virginia].
So I was inside the city limits, very close to downtown, and it became predominantly black in the ’60s.
And my parents, you know, wouldn’t leave; that was our neighborhood.
So it was a pretty—you know, it was a fairly tough—the north side of Richmond is a fairly tough section of town,
and you just kind of, you know, you just—I was raised in a working-class, Irish Catholic family,
went to a military prep school, and I was just kind of a, you know, just—just raised to not back down.
If you believe in something, you believe in something.
And you can’t—if you show any weakness in a neighborhood—it’s quite Darwinian as a young person, right?
If you show weakness, you’re going to just get picked on and bullied and all that.
So you’ve got to—you’ve just got to—you just learn from the playgrounds, and you learn from the schools and the sports.
You know, there’s no big, organized Little League or anything like that;
everything was kind of inner-city baseball leagues or basketball leagues, etc.
You just learn you’ve got to stand up for yourself, and you’ve got to fight.
And if you fight, people give you some space.
And if you don’t fight, it’s just… you know, it’s not a great life.
So it was just—and it was—and it wasn’t any big deal.
It was kind of like breathing air.
So I remember the story about your dad that you told that almost felt like one switch gets turned on,
and young Steve Bannon—you’re a grownup by then, but it goes to this idea of trust,
trust in the government, trust in your company, trust that your dad had in his retirement accounts.
Well, look, we’re Irish Catholic.
The Catholic Church, the Bell—
my grandfather and father I think are the only two guys in the history of the Bell System to be both 50-year employees.
My grandfather worked there 50 years as a lineman and a PBX [Private Branch Exchange] guy,
and my dad was 50 years, started in the sewer pulling cable and worked for 50 years.
So as a father and son worked 50 years for the phone company.
You had these big institutions.
I was fortunate enough to be raised in a great time in America, right, the ’50s and ’60s.
But you believed in these big institutions: the Catholic Church, the phone company.
And these were, you know, permanent fixtures in your life, and it was kind of that stability.
I came from a neighborhood that was a little bit tough, but it was not like—it was a very solid, great background.
As I go throughout the world and meet these very wealthy people I deal with all the time and see their kids,
the greatest thing you can give a kid is that kind of basic, core, loving family that’s there and rock-solid.
So the family, the church, the community, the phone company, these are institutions.
And so institutions are everything.
It’s a very institutional life when you think about it, and quite hierarchical.
But it gives you a set framework that you can grow and be—
you know, get to be an adult, and there’s a real sense of, you know, something that’s solid there, something that’s real.
I think that’s what broke down the financial crisis.
I mean, my father would rather—
he would tell me stories back in the Depression about one of the things
about his father working at the phone company is that they never laid anybody off during the Great Depression.
My dad was born in 1921, and as a very young person, he remembers all the neighborhood fathers got let go.
His dad still had a job; the phone company didn’t let anybody go.
He also told stories about the, you know, borrowing against—they had like one or two shares of stock,
which was everything, and they would borrow against the stock to like buy the house and buy—
I think the house cost like 2,500 bucks or something in the ’30s to build.
They borrowed against their AT&T stock.
AT&T, the Bell System, incentivized working-class people
to put X amount of their income away and actually become a shareholder.
And being a shareholder in the phone company, that’s where my dad’s entire net worth was.
And so, when, after the collapse, a couple days after the collapse, when Cramer went on TV,
Jim Cramer went on TV on CNBC and that morning just goes,
“Hey, if you need cash in like, the next five years of your life”—I mean, he’s in a full panic.
If you watch the video it’s quite shocking. It’s shocking CNBC actually let him on.
But he’s sitting there going, “If you need cash in the next five years, you’ve just to sell everything and go to cash,
because we don’t know where the bottom of this is.”
And two days later—I remember, I’d been at Goldman Sachs, and my dad asked me my opinion.
A couple days later he sold all of his AT&T.
He would have sold his stock in the Catholic Church before he sold his stock in AT&T.
And he sold his stock.
And that—that struck me as that this is a crisis of the institutions of our country, right?
This is a—this is a massive—we now have an institutional crisis.
When guys like Marty Bannon, who the country’s—kind of this Steady Eddie guy who the whole thing is to raise a family,
to be there for the family, to be there for his community,
he’s the kind of—these are the kind of building blocks that society, civic society’s built upon.
When guys like that are questioning the system and dumping their ownership in the system, the system can’t go on like that.
You’re now in a real crisis.
It felt to me when we were watching—we made a number of films about it, and one of the—
one of the things that happened in the cascade, because we make political films, we were thinking about—
let’s talk about Sarah Palin, for example, somebody who could identify in some way what that was,
what that fear and that anger was, probably in your dad and lots of dads and moms all over the country. …
That’s one of the reasons I came back.
You know, I was actually living in Shanghai at the time.
I was living in the French Concession, spending most of my time there.
I had a—I had a massive multiplayer video game company that had a big Asian presence in Hong Kong,
Kowloon, South Korea and in China…. So I was living there.
Came back because I thought there were some financial problems.
I was going to sell real estate.
But then my sister pointed me to this woman, Sarah Palin, who’d just been named—was going to be the vice president.
I actually went to the Republican convention as—
just with a filmmaking guy, the guy who produced The Passion of the Christ, Steve McEveety,
and went to the—and saw something unique in Palin and saw her go round.
When the financial crisis, when Lehman was put into bankruptcy, which was put into bankruptcy, I think,
on the morning of Sept. 15 in London, right, and then it cascaded down,
the smartest guys in the room didn’t realize that the commercial paper market, the global commercial paper market,
which is the way that every company in the world gets its working capital to kind of, you know,
make payroll and to pay for the lights going on and for the janitors and for everything that’s pay—
you know, GE, the biggest companies of the world, the commercial paper market,
every day you’re selling commercial paper to provide working capital.
When that froze up on the morning of the 15th, the whole system froze up.
On that date, Sarah Palin and John McCain, I think, were up one point in the Gallup Poll on Barack Obama;
that people forget, Palin came with such force out of that thing
for the first two weeks before she started to be kind of destroyed, they were on fire.
It was, in that sequence of events that week, I think talks about the corruption of our institutions,
and I think it talks about how the elites are comfortable with decline.
Remember, on that Thursday morning—Monday, it goes into bankruptcy.
By Thursday, there’s a crisis that nobody knows what’s going on in this commercial paper market.
The whole way that the whole entire global system is financed is now frozen up.
And that’s when you have [Chair of the Federal Reserve Ben] Bernanke and [Treasury Secretary] Hank Paulson,
who are not alarmists, particularly not Bernanke, and he’s an expert—
remember, he’s an expert in the Great Depression.
That’s his claim to fame; that’s what his Ph.D. is in.
They go to the Oval Office to go see Bush, and they have a meeting, and they tell him, hey—
and we know all of this by congressional testimony later.
So these are the facts.
They go to him and say: “Hey, by 5:00 today, we need a trillion dollars of cash infusion into the system,
or the American financial system will collapse in 72 hours.
The world financial system will collapse 48 hours after that, and we will have global anarchy and chaos.”
And Bush goes: “That’s interesting, but we’ve kind of—
the White House counsel said we’ve kind of checked the Constitution.
I don’t really have authority to do that.
You’ve got to go over to Capitol Hill. It’s kind of their problem.”
And so they go up to Capitol Hill.
They go to Nancy Pelosi’s office in the afternoon, and they had the same meeting.
In fact, they’ve got to keep their—they’ve got to keep their Blackberries outside it’s so confidential.
And they talk in there about they need this cash infusion.
That’s when, you know, Hank Paulson gets on his knees to Nancy Pelosi and makes some sort of pitch to her.
… The country’s in literally—what the Germans and the Japanese military and the Soviets,
what nobody could ever do to us, Osama bin Laden, nobody, we’ve now done to ourselves.
We have literally caused a financial crisis that will bring down the entire system in 72 hours.
The biggest revolutionaries that have gone after the United States could never dream of what we had done to ourselves.
And so that began a cascade of—and here’s the thing.
Nobody, nobody’s ever been held accountable for it. Nobody’s ever taken responsibility for it.
And it just kind of—that’s why, you know, we have never recovered. We’ve never recovered from that catastrophe.
Somebody’s been held accountable, which is probably why we have Donald Trump sitting in the White House now.
It’s conceivable to me—and you and I can talk about it—
what happens politically among the group that become the “deplorables” to Hillary Clinton,
the “forgotten” to Donald Trump— …
The bang that went off on Nov. 9 of 2016 at 2:30 in the morning was lit in the Oval Office on Sept. 18 of 2008.
It was lit right in that room.
It was lit, that fuse, that long fuse that has this populist explosion exploded.
But every financial crisis, I think, in at least modern history is always followed by some sort of populist—right?
Now sometimes that devolves into fascism and other things.
But every time there’s a financial collapse—and remember, this is the biggest financial collapse in the country’s history.
This is bigger than—this is bigger than the Great Depression.
This is bigger than the one in the 1870s that caused such a big problem.
This is bigger than the one that caused the Federal Reserve [sic] in the early 20th century.
This is the biggest financial collapse in American history.
And this was one that was not done just by simple Ponzi schemes.
This was done by an organized, thought-through effort of the financial and corporate elites that—
remember, the scams pulled off here are absolutely outrageous. …
And so that’s why you had this immense collapse.
You had so many of the elites making so much money.
Then when it collapsed, they wanted the taxpayers—the whole thing of the trillion dollars.
… The Federal Reserve didn’t call all the financial institutions together and corporations and say:
“Hey, boys, we’ve got a problem, right?
This is a problem, and we need to pass the hat.
You’ve got to cough up some cash.”
That trillion dollars was from Marty Bannon.
They hit “print,” right?
They hit “print,” hit “print,” but the guy’s who’s going to pay for it is the little guy.
… We live in neofeudalism. This is not capitalism.
This is where you have an underclass, right, a Lumpenproletariat almost that’s taken care of by the state;
you have the very wealthy; and you have this kind of neofeudalist working class and middle class in the middle
that pays for everything, and the guys at the top who we’ve socialized the risk, that trillion dollars of infusion, right?
Remember, the balance sheet of the Federal Reserve on the morning of Sept. 18, 2008,
when they’re in the Oval Office talking, is $880 billion.
The balance sheet of the Federal Reserve on Jan. 17, or Jan. 20 of 2017,
when Donald Trump raises his hand, is $4.5 trillion.
The most progressive president in the history of our country, President Obama, saved the wealthy,
and here’s how they did it.
[Treasury Secretary Timothy] Geithner, they just turned on the taps of liquidity.
We call it—the technical term is “quantitative easing.”
The not-technical term is called bailing out the people who are guilty, OK?
Essentially, if you owned anything, you had the greatest 10-year run in history.
Wait, wait, wait. … Let’s move to the TARP [Troubled Asset Relief Program] vote and whether you think—
so now all of that is happening.
You have to do TARP, the first one you have to do. You know why?
Your fiduciary—when a guy like Bernanke walks in and says,
“I need a trillion dollars,” right, you don’t have time to debate.
History’s going to look at you.
When he says, “The American financial system’s going to collapse in 72 hours
and the world financial system two days after that, and you’re going to have global anarchy,”
there’s not a person on earth—I don’t want to hear these libertarians and all these,
you know, free mar—“Oh, let capitalism take place.”
When they come in and ask for the first trillion in an emergency, I believe you have to say: “OK, we’ve got to do it.
I don’t know what went on here, but if you tell me this is going to save me and at least get down the road, I’ll do it.”
But remember, that’s the first trillion.
We kept on for another $3.5 trillion. $3.5 trillion.
This is just bailing out the people that caused the problems.
Got to think about it for a second.
You know, Goldman Sachs didn’t lose any equity.
None of the partners really missed any bonus payments.
GE’s still in business, AIG.
It all still exists, all the donors, OK?
The reverse side of this, remember, there is a corollary to this that’s quite powerful.
And we know from the notes of the Federal Reserve, a guy named Richard Fisher, the governor—
the president of the Federal Reserve of Dallas, argued this in the room constantly.
He said by doing this quantitative easing, which you’re just flooding the zone with liquidity,
we will save the institutions, and we will save anybody that’s a big real estate holder or hedge fund or bank.
But he said, there’s a huge reverse here.
Number one, savings accounts are going to go to zero-interest rates.
Savings accounts are going to go to zero.
So 5,000 years of the Western tradition—back to the Marty Bannons—
which is be a good householder, get a wife, get a mortgage, get some kids, and you save your money.
Well, now, if you save money, you’re a sucker, because it’s broken the trust.
That’s the trust that’s broken.
If you save money, you’re a jerk because you’re not going to get any interest paid. In fact, the bank’s going to charge you.
So there’s been no—you can’t—you can’t put money away to save into the system.
Number two, the pension funds.
The pensions funds are going to be destroyed.
Today we have a $9.5 trillion gap between the obligations of the pension funds and what we’ve earned off the pension funds.
Why? Because it went to zero-interest rates, and the bonds they can buy have no juice in them. right?
The other thing is public schools and all this.
Even communities that are not leveraged can’t issue bonds because there’s no juice in the bonds,
because of negative interest rates, 1.5%.
We’ve essentially put the burden of the bailout on the working class and middle class.
That’s why nobody owns anything.
But the millennials today are nothing but 19th-century Russian serfs.
They’re better fed; they’re better clothed; they’re in better shape;
they have more information than anybody in the world at any point in time, but they don’t own anything.
They’re not going to own anything, OK?
And they’re 20%—if you mark in time against their parents,
they’re 20% behind in their income, and there’s no pension plan in the future.
They’re all gig economy.
We’ve literally destroyed the middle class in this country.
And both political parties, by the way, this is not about Republicans and Democrats.
This is the way the system works,
and this is the way the system comes together to protect itself and to move itself forward, OK?
Because nobody understands even the rudimentaries of finance, right?
And they keep the public kind of economically illiterate, right?
This allows to go on. And now we’re in that crisis, that crisis, what Trump understood—
Wait, don’t go to Trump yet.
So we’ve created this world of unhappy people.
The middle class is shrinking and destroyed in lots of ways.
We’re going to catch back up with it in a minute.
But now let’s go to you, Breitbart, coming here, coming out of—out of Los Angeles,
coming to Washington with what kind of a plan, what kind of an idea?
What was Breitbart in Los Angeles, and what does Breitbart become in Washington?
Andrew was, had been Matt Drudge editor.
He’d been one of the launch editors for Arianna Huffington and the Huffington Post.
He always had a vision of what a news site could be.
At the time, he was a blog, right?
People kind of posted stuff; there were citizen journalists.
Andrew had this big vision of what a real news site could be.
We were the blog kind of for the Tea Party.
This Tea Party energy, you know, right after the financial collapse, in the spring of the next year,
in fact, Rick Santelli had this rant, this very famous rant, that took place when the first TARP thing was being talked about.
And he was basically saying, “Hey, all the working-class people are paying for this, right?”
That rant initiated these group of kind of disparate people to have a meeting
and basically have people come out on April 15, on Tax Day, April 15 at 2009.
That was the beginning of the Tea Party.
And Andrew saw very quickly, as I saw, that there was this real populist power in this;
that this was something totally different.
This wasn’t—this was not standard Republican Party. This was a whole new deal.
And so we started covering that, and Breitbart kind of became the blog site for that.
Andrew wanted to do a news site.
We were able to raise some money.
And in 2011, we closed on the money,
and we decided that the center of gravity of our political coverage had to be in Washington, D.C.
And we leased this house right in back of the Supreme Court, and we called it the “Breitbart Embassy.”
And the reason was, we were an embassy in a foreign capital, right, because everybody told us—
I mean, we were lectured by guys saying: “You’re not going to have any access.
You’re going to have to play the game to get access.”
And we kind of said: “Hey, we’re just going to kick down doors.
How about this? We’re going to be totally different.”
And so we called this place the Embassy for the simple reason that, you know,
we thought we were in an embassy in a foreign capital; that this was owned and run by the permanent political class.
And so a handful of people, like Peter Schweizer and others, Matt Boyle and Andrew, we started this news site.
Now, unfortunately, Andrew died, tragically, you know, four days before the site was to be launched.
He was working 20 hours a day to build the site, to perfect it.
He had these—he was quite a visionary when it came to new media and how people accessed information.
And so the whole site you see today was really his creation.
He created every component piece of it, including how news … flowed through the system, how we promoted things, etc.
And so that was this kind of rowdy—and remember, one thing, decision we made very fundamentally—
and I kind of was, I think, a big influence on Andrew on this—I said,
“Look, attacking [Rep.] Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama, we’re so far removed from having any influence over that,”
because at this time we were a very small site.
I said: “We’re the populist, you know, kind of economic nationalist part of this.
Let’s attack the real enemy.
And the real enemy’s the Republican establishment.
What we’re going to do is just go after the House leadership.
We’re going to go after the [Sen.] Mitch McConnells; we’re going to go after the donors.
We’re just going to go hard at kind of this kind of [Rep.] Paul Ryan philosophy.
Why did you think [Speaker of the House John] Boehner and [House Majority Leader Eric] Cantor were vulnerable?
Because they were vulnerable, because of the huge disconnect.
Remember, the one thing the Democrats, they have lined up—
they have actually, at least till here recently, donors and their base kind of line up.
The Republican Party’s totally dysfunctional.
It’s essentially a working-class party.
The votes all come from working-class or lower-middle-class people predominantly, right?
And it doesn’t represent their interests.
There’s a book written by a guy called What’s the Matter with Kansas?, where he kind of walks through how the—
the donor class, the Singers and the Kochs, these kind of libertarians, have this entirely different concept,
this kind of Austrian school of economics concept, that the political apparatchiks—
remember, the consultant class, the political class around it and the donors all line up perfectly.
Unfortunately, you’ve got a working-class party that—for instance, trade.
You know, mass illegal immigration, which the chamber of commerce pushes all the time,
and more legal immigration and trade are just two sides of the same coin, right?
The two sides of the same coin, it’s suppression of workers’ wages, OK?
Mass illegal immigration is to flood the zone against predominantly black and Hispanic working class
so that you’ve got unlimited, you know, unlimited labor pool, and you can keep wages down for higher margins.
Immigration and the H-1B visas are the same thing in the tech area, that you don’t have to hire American citizens;
I can do it with these visas to increase margins.
Trade is the same thing.
Trade is just you’re competing against foreign labor and foreign countries unfairly.
And so all of it is to suppress workers’ wages and to have higher margins;
therefore, higher stock prices; therefore, more wealth, of which the workers don’t own any piece of.
And so our thesis was not just the cultural stuff but the economic stuff.
You have an ability to re-form this Republican Party and make it a true populist entity.
But they weren’t going to let that happen. They were going to resist that in almost—
They did, and we took them down. We took down Cantor.
Remember, we took down Cantor with Dave Brat.
The first time in the history of the republic that a sitting majority leader had ever been beaten.
Remember, he was beaten in a primary that—
Cantor was up here in D.C. on the day of the primary and schlepped down there the last night.
Fox News, when they came on last [sic] night, didn’t even know Dave Brat’s name.
This was an unknown.
And we had worked it with Laura Ingraham.
I mean, we had been—Breitbart had been all over this.
We had Dave Brat on our radio show, I think, every week for the 10 weeks’ run-up to the election.
We saw real vulnerability.
Did you know it was coming?
You definitely knew it was coming.
That was—also happened to be my home district, but I could feel it.
I knew that that a guy like Brat—they were very weak; they were very weak.
They didn’t have a grasp, and this Tea Party revolt was picking up.
You had the—you had the—you had the huge Tea Party revolt in 2010, which we won 62 seats.
The Republican Party didn’t see that coming.
That was all grassroots-oriented, which played out over time.
Remember, today, the 2000—really, Obama’s ’08 and particularly the primaries in 2010
I think changed American politics pretty fundamentally, because the concept got to be mobilization versus persuasion.
I don’t believe we live in an era of persuasion anymore.
People are so saturated with this all day long, they kind of know where they come out.
You’ve just got to motivate them to get out there and vote.
You’ve go to motivate them to go door to door.
So the ’08 Obama primary that completely caught Clinton by surprise was all about mobilization.
The 2010 Tea Party, particularly the House part of it, that was absolutely, you know, the biggest in the history,
I think, since the Great Depression, 1932, was about mobilization.
That’s why Romney didn’t want to have anything to do with it in ’12, right?
He washed his hands of it.
And that’s why in this very room in January of 2013, they had this huge—
this huge controversy between—the Republican Party did the “autopsy.”
They said, “Oh, the reason that—the reason that Romney lost was because we didn’t reach out to the Hispanic community;
we didn’t talk about DACA [Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals];
we didn’t talk about, you know, open borders, immigration policy.”
And a young guy named Stephen Miller, who’s on the staff,
he’d been with [Rep.] Michele Bachmann for the Tea Party revolt, we were very close to.
Stephen Miller and [Sen.] Jeff Sessions and myself had a dinner in this very room
basically the same week that Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes
had this dinner with [Sen. Chuck] Schumer and [Sen. Marco] Rubio in New York to talk about the Gang of Eight bill.
And we just came down and looked at this.
There was a lawyer at Hunton & Williams in Richmond, that wrote a three-part piece,
I believe it was, for RealClearPolitics.
His name is Sean Trende.
He looked at the same analysis coming out of 2012,
which remember, all the donors thought Romney was going to win in a landslide.
He looked at the same thing and said, “The inability of the Republican Party to connect with working-class voters
is the single biggest reason that they’re not winning.”
And that’s where Sessions and I talked about, we’re going to take trade from number 100, right?
It’s not an issue.
The whole Republican Party’s got this fetish on free trade—they’re like automatons,
“Oh, free trade, free trade, free trade”—which is a radical idea,
particularly when you’re against a mercantilist opponent like China.
So we’re make trade from number 100 to number two, and we’re going to take immigration number three to number one.
The one and two issues will be immigration and trade.
And that will be focused on workers, right?
And we’re going to remake the Republican Party. In fact, I’d—
Wait a minute. That’s like the anti-autopsy result.
180%. Autopsy—and I told Reince [Priebus] later, to his face, it was a total joke and another donor-driven lie, OK?
No statistics in the victory in 2016 showed that.
And by the way, all the guys in the verticals, the Jeb Bushes and the Marco Rubios and all these other guys, Chris Christie,
all the geniuses and their staffs all bought into the autopsy, remember.
They thought we were crazy.
You know, we had Palin in ’08 and hoped that she’d run in ’12, and she just—she—it just didn’t work out.
I actually worked with Lou Dobbs and tried to get Lou Dobbs to run in ’12 as a populist,
because it was Lou Dobbs’ economic ideas on his TV show all the time, particularly China and immigration and trade,
and Lou Dobbs, for a host of reasons, didn’t do it.
And here I actually tried to talk Sessions into doing it.
I told Sessions, just like I told Palin: “You’re not going to be president of the United States.
But remember, if we win the primary—and you will win the primary—you control the Republican apparatus;
you take over the RNC [Republican National Committee] for the whole next cycle.
You can turn the RNC; you can turn the Republican Party into a worker-based party.
The goal is to get control of the party.
You’re not going to win the presidency against this. That will take time.”
And Sessions goes—I remember, he said—it was about five hours.
We walked down to his front steps, and he said—he turns to me and goes, “It’s not me; I’m not going to do it,” he says.
“But our guy will come along. We’ll find our guy.”
And that guy a couple years later turned out to be Donald Trump.
So you go hunting for a guy?
And you’re banging them hard.
You’re banging Boehner and everybody else hard on the front page of Breitbart.
So help me with the understanding of the growth of Breitbart through those two years while you’re—
I think when Andrew—I think when Andrew passed away, the night we opened the site, I think if you go back and check,
I think we were at 10 million—I think we were at 10 million uniques—excuse me, we were 10 million page views a month.
I think we were a million and a half uniques.
I think the total time on site, total time was 90 seconds, and 70% of our traffic was coming from Drudge, OK?
At the height of the game. I think later in August, when I left in August of 2016, I think we were,
you know, 300 million page views a month, 40 million uniques, people staying on site five minutes.
It was a whole different deal.
Combination of—combination of we were—number one, we were—Andrew’s site, it was news, not opinion.
We didn’t put any—our opinion was in the news.
Well, look, it’s like the editorial page of The New York Times is on the front page.
If The New York Times didn’t publish, CNN would be a test pattern every day, OK?
That’s the—look, it’s all partisan.
It all comes from what I call an angle of attack.
We’re partisans, you know?
And we put—and we put it right into our news.
And people read it and know it.
The facts are the facts.
You can dispute the facts, but the angle of attack is right in there.
So it was going to be hard-hitting, populist, nationalist.
We were going to have—we’re going to have heroes and enemies.
Who’s reading it? Who’s reading that then?
… We caught on with this kind of working-class, middle-class audience.
We made the stuff very intelligent.
We had these radio shows that were listener-based.
We just—we got people engaged.
The comments section, which is not for the uninitiated, I took off almost virtually all controls on the thing.
We had monitors to stop the really bad guys, but I got lit up more.
The reason that all the conservative media had gotten away from comments
is that most of the comments are attacking the writers and the editors.
And, you know, we took it off and said, hey, we’ll build a community here.
And it was the comments section that started to build some of the power of Breitbart, coupled with we were just smarter.
We had amazing search-engine optimization.
It was a merger of technology and content. Search-engine optimization.
And particularly I had an entire team that did nothing but deconstruct the algorithms of Facebook.
Without Facebook, Breitbart could have never gotten to the size it got. …
You saw the Harvard study where we were the most powerful news organization in 2016.
That was all by design.
We’d literally focused on being able to deliver a punch, OK?
And we did it, just like the guys at Harvard said.
We did it by understanding Facebook, understanding search-engine optimization, maximizing the technology part of it,
and also comments to build community, have people have ownership in this, right?
Well, and also understanding that there was a division in America, and half the division didn’t have a voice.
This whole thing on division, too, this is—it’s the taproot of democracy.
What you want is engagement, OK?
The left was doing it with Talking Points Memo and everything.
You want engagement.
We just had in ’18 a midterm election, 113 million people voted.
Democracy in America has never been more robust.
And one of the reasons it’s robust is you’ve got these sites like Breitbart,
and on the left you’ve got Talking Points Memo and the Huffington Post, that have people engaged;
they have people buying in; they have people passionate about this, OK?
Now it’s permeated not just political culture, because of Trump and now people like AOC [Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez], etc.;
it’s permeated popular culture.
We now have the most engaged political—the country is all about politics.
Every dinner party you go to, every conversation you have, Saturday Night Live, all the late-night comics.
If you look back at Johnny Carson’s era and you look back at the Tonight Show and all this,
he’d have maybe a few jokes about Reagan and stuff at the beginning,
but now the heart of the nightly setup of [Jimmy] Kimmel and all the Tonight Show and all that, is politics.
And why is that?
You now have people that are engaged. They’ve bought in. And it’s aspirational.
It’s part of their—it’s part of their lifestyle.
It’s like you wear a certain brand of shirt, you have a certain brand of politics.
And this is what I mean by mobilization.
We’re not in an era of persuasion anymore.
Everybody—there’s so many—since the social media had disintermediated the traditional media aspects—
and that’s one of the things Andrew understood—is that now it’s part of your life.
It’s an aspirational lifestyle brand that you’re either a progressive Democrat, a reactionary Republican,
a Trump guy wearing a red hat, or somebody that believes in AOC and thinks Trump’s a devil.
That’s all fine. You’ve bought into that, and that’s where you go.
So people say it’s divided.
Yes, the country’s been divided before, and people have got to come at this and make their own decision.
But it’s very divided.
And the media has definitely added to that by reinforcing and also presenting to people the news in a certain way.
Fantastic, so thank you.That section’s done.
Next section, Trump, the campaign, all of that.
Does he find you, or do you find him?
Are you two guys looking for each other?
What is it? What happens between the two of you? How do you first meet?
… He comes—you know, in 2010, I’m making these films for Dave Bossie at Citizens United.
I’d just made Generation Zero, which was about the financial collapse.
And that’s where I kind of made my chops in the conservative media area.
We were on Fox.
That film was about this new generation that’s not going to own anything, right?
So I made that film in 2009.
So I’m making films. I’m making three films for the 2010 midterm all about—and I’m editing for Bossie.
And Bossie calls me up and says, “What are you doing tomorrow?”
And I said: “What do you mean, what am I doing?
I’m at your studio editing these three films that we’ve got to get out in four weeks.”
He says: “Well, can you go to New York?”
I go, “No, I can’t.”
He says: “Well, you’ve got to go with me. I’m going to go see Donald Trump.”
And I go: “Look, I don’t need to see Donald Trump.
I don’t know Donald Trump. I don’t care to know Donald Trump.”
He goes, “Well, you’ve got to come with me because he’s thinking of running for president.”
And I said, “Of what country?”
And so I get on the train, and we’re talking. We go up there on Amtrak.
And I said, now, I’m there for one reason. I’m the Tea Party populist guy.
I’m supposed to explain to him—because Dave’s a traditional limited-government conservative.
He loves the Tea Party, but … he doesn’t quite get what this whole thing’s about.
So he’s going to walk through the whole thing of a primary and all the technical stuff; I’m going to add the juice.
So we go there, and it’s amazing.
We sit in the same conference room that six years later the Billy Bush weekend and all this stuff
is going to play out, the exact same spot.
In fact, Trump and I sit kind of in the same location where the final decision
on not doing the TV shows about Billy Bush weekend, which is really what saved his candidacy.
What’s your first read of the guy? What’s his aspect? What’d you think?
Well, I was not looking— I had no interest sitting in the meeting because I’d never watched the show.
I just remember him as a guy that was bankrupt all the time and a guy Goldman Sachs would never finance.
So he’s not in my radar scope. Just a promoter.
I get in there, and I was actually—I was, number one, blown away by his presence.
People like Palin and Obama and these people,
there’s something about their charisma and something about their ability to own a room.
Trump walks in, and he owns the room.
There’s a presence about the guy that I was not—because I didn’t take him very seriously.
We sit down. It’s a two-hour meeting.
He doesn’t know a lot, because he’s not supposed to know.
It’s not that he’s not—it’s about politics and very specific.
And he doesn’t know any policy, which he shouldn’t; he’s a real estate guy and a TV guy.
He doesn’t know any policy.
Dave’s walking through this.
But what struck me, we turned to—I talked about populism, and I say—I go—I give him the history of populism,
Andrew Jackson, William Jennings Bryan, bring him up to date with Ross Perot and everything like that.
And he turns to me, he goes, “That’s what I am.”
I go, “What?”
And he goes, “A popularist.”
I go, “No, no, no, it’s populist.”
And he goes, “Yes, yeah, I got it: popularist.”
And I go, “No, no. It’s populist.”
And after I said it the second time, Bossie gives me the kick under the table.
He says “popularist,” I let it go.
And then he turns on—he turns on about China, and we get into this conversation about China.
And we talk about trade.
We talk about non-trade barriers, talk about the South China Sea; we talk about currency manipulation.
Of a two-hour meeting, the China thing is 20 or 30 minutes long.
It’s the one thing he knows.
And I realize he’s regurgitating my guy Lou Dobbs, but I’m telling you,
it’s the one thing he’s engaged, and he’s got well-formed opinions.
So we leave the meeting.
Bossie says—on the train on the way back, Bossie says, “What’d you think?”
And I’m sitting there going: “You know, I’ve been thinking about it.
His thing on popularist, I was wrong, and he was right.”
And he goes, “What do you mean?”
He says, “You wouldn’t let off on that; that’s why I kicked you.”
And I said: “Yeah, I was trying to give him the standard thing.
He thinks of things differently.
He is a popularist; he’s not a populist.
He thinks about things from himself.”
And I said: “That’s pretty amazing.
He was actually right, and I was wrong.”
And Bossie goes, “Yeah, I could tell that.”
And then he says: “What else?
What about this China thing? You guys were on China forever.”
I go: “Dave, here’s the amazing thing.
I can’t, in Washington, D.C., outside maybe some noodge at a think tank,
have the conversation I just had with this guy on China.
Nobody will talk about non-trade barriers; nobody will talk about currency manipulation.
They couldn’t pick the South China Sea.
He talks about the South China Sea.”
I said, “It’s amazing to me he actually has what I think is one of the biggest threats,
if not the biggest threat we’ve got coming, he understands China better than anybody in this city,
and that is going to be”—and he says, “What do you think about—?”
I said, “No chance this guy’ll run. Not—it will never happen. He’ll never run for president.”
So you sort of park him.
I just kind of dismiss it.
And later—you know, Bossie gave him two things to do.
I said, “You’ve got to have two asks for this guy leaving.”
And Bossie did.
He said: “Number one, you’ve got to give, in the maximum, of the $2,500,
you’ve got to give to every congressman and every senator who’s running
and make them come to Trump Tower, look you in the eye, shake your hand.
It’s not a marker, but you’re getting into system.”
I think that came to $500,000 or something.
“The second is, you’ve got to write a policy book.”
And so I would tease Dave.
Dave says, “What do you think?”
I said, “There’s no chance he writes any checks, zero.”
And I said, “Number two, he’ll never write a policy book, forget it.”
Why—why did you know that about him?
I just—I know guys like Trump. I just see Trump.
He’s not—you’re writing him a check; he’s not writing you a check. It’s not going to happen, right?
Unless he’s got some sort of problem in a city about a casino, you’re not getting a check, OK?
Not for some congressman from Kansas.
His mind doesn’t think like that.
So I would keep teasing Bossie.
And eventually, I said: “How’s that 500,000?
How many of those meetings have you had?
How many hands are you shaking at Trump Tower, right?”
And eventually Dave calls me up: “He wrote a $250,000 check, I think, to Karl Rove’s general fund,
like three weeks to go, and bitched and moaned about it the whole time.”
Now, here’s the interesting thing.
The guy who’s the managing editor for me, Wynton Hall, is one of the great ghostwriters out there.
Once a year, we give him permission to ghostwrite a book.
And Wynton calls me up at like the end of this year and says,
“Hey, I need time, and this one’s going to take a little longer.”
I go, “Fine.”
I say, ”How long you need?”
He says, “It’s going to take—it could take up to, you know, four months or five months.”
I said, “This crap you type out for these conservatives takes 30 days.”
I said, “Who takes four months?”
He says, “I’ve got a guy who’s got the biggest advance in the history of Regnery.”
And I go: “Regnery?
Advance? They don’t give advances.
I mean, it’s not their business model.
What is this?”
He goes, “It’s Trump.”
I go, “Are you kidding me?”
He says, “Yes, to write a—it’s to write a policy book.”
I go, “You’re kidding me.”
And that book, I think the subtitle was Make America Great Again.
That book, if you read it and look at the 2016—this book came out, I believe, in 2011.
And it was—it’s an amazing book.
Wynton Hall is a fantastic writer.
He said Trump was so engaged in this book.
This book has many of the foundational issues that Trump ran on later.
So it’s quite amazing.
But Trump, you know, there was some element of him that always looked at Obama and thought he could take Obama on.
But I think he was smart enough to realize he would have gotten crushed going after Obama.
He was smart enough to kind of wave off on it.
But the seeds of his interest was enough to start taking meetings, to start—
and Dave gave him a very detailed presentation on “Don’t worry about the general election.
You worry about the election that’s in front of you.
Worry about winning the Republican nomination.”
Dave had a quite detailed map of that.
So you could tell it was serious.
And then later on, what happened is Dave Bossie starts putting on these cattle calls very early on in the system.
So Trump showed up at CPAC [Conservative Political Action Conference].
He gave a great speech.
And then the first one I remember I think was in late 2013 or early 2014; it was in New Hampshire.
And I go up, and they had a cattle call.
It was Rand Paul; it was Newt Gingrich; it was Ted Cruz.
You had all the kind of conservatives around with the media all over Cruz and all over Rand Paul; they were the hot thing.
And I think [Scott] Walker was there, too, I think.
And Trump spoke. And what I would do when these guys would speak,
I would sit off to the side and just watch the audience.
And Trump gave a totally nontraditional, nontraditional Republican speech.
He talked about trade. He talked about immigration.
He talked about—and not in politicalspeak.
Every other guy came up there, I don’t care if it’s Rand Paul or Mike Lee or Newt Gingrich or Ted Cruz,
all of them, they all speak in a political vernacular.
Now, these were grassroots leaders, Tea Party, the people you have to convince in New Hampshire to work for you.
Trump comes up, totally off script, just stream of consciousness.
I think he had a speech. Never even looked at it. Stream of consciousness.
These people are leaning forward.
People are clapping. He’s getting standing ovations.
And I’m sitting there going, “This is amazing.”
So we were doing our radio show, and Trump was going to come and do an interview with us.
We got Sam Nunberg to give us an interview.
So I’m sitting there going, “This guy is on fire.” Right?
And you could tell in the room he was kind of owning the room.
And Jeremy Peters—that’s my buddy from The New York Times—we interviewed Jeremy.
Jeremy’s beat—he had covered Andrew for years—
Jeremy’s beat at the Times was to cover the crazy grassroots of the Republican Party, right?
So we interviewed him.
And I’m sitting there with Jeremy.
I go: “Hey, Jeremy, I’ve got Trump coming up next.
If you’re good, I’ll get you five minutes with Trump so you can interview him.”
Jeremy looks at me and goes, “Steve, if my editor found out that I even talked to Donald Trump, I’d be fired.”
And I go, “Why?”
And he says: “He’s not a candidate. This is—this is just show.”
“This is a publicity stunt; this is a marketing stunt.”
And so—and by the way, CNBC, MSNBC, they’re all up there.
The only interview he had all day was Breitbart Radio and then Breitbart News.
Nobody would even consider it.
And he owned the room.
And then I started noticing, as he would go to these things, he was owning these rooms.
I mean, you could tell in these grassroots things that Bossie kept putting on.
… My sense was, and you go back and look at it, you guys hadn’t really decided yet.
There was Cruz; there was this; there was that; it’s going to be somebody else.
And Trump was never getting the oxygen.
We would give him fair coverage, right?
But we had—remember, because look, it’s a—it’s like this whole thing with the “alt-right,” right?
To build a massive news site, it’s like sedimentary rock—you need different layers of it.
So we would have the Christian conservatives; we would have the libertarians, the Rand Paul guys;
we would have the limited-government conservatives, the Ted Cruz guys;
we would have the gay Republican, Lincoln club guys.
The “alt-right” started as, before it got taken over by these kind of white nationalists,
when we originally got involved with it, these were the guys that said:
“Hey, all this conservatism is all—there’s no fight in it.
We want an alternative that actually fights, right? It was kind of these memes….
So my point is, there’s probably 20 groups. Of that, we tried to cover everybody.
Honestly, if you go back and look at the coverage, probably Ted Cruz is the guy that—
in fact, Ted Cruz deems to give Breitbart, when he goes to Liberty and announces his candidacy
at Liberty University in that massive rally with 15,000 students, only Breitbart is backstage.
He invites us to the family quarters. We do his wife, interview his wife.
We then have all this private time with Ted Cruz, because we’re like the Cruz site, because part of our—
part of the sedimentary rock is limited-government, Heritage organization conservatism, right?
This whole populist nationalist part of it is a significant part, but it’s not the overwhelming thing.
We’re getting more and more populist every day.
Trump comes up, and really the key moment is coming down the escalator.
When Trump—at the top of the escalator, if you go back and look at the polling, I think Trump was in seventh place, right?
At the bottom of the escalator, in the speech, and particularly when the media bites—and I’m sitting there watching.
We have five people up at Trump Tower.
We have Boyle leading an entire team.
We’ve got wall-to-wall coverage. …
And in the speech, when he starts going on to not just the immigration part and trade, which nobody’s ever talked about,
but when he starts doing the over-the-top stuff, and I go—I said: “You watch.
They’re going to bite hard. And they’re going to bite hard and blow this up.”
I’m sitting there watching this thing on TV.
When he starts talking about the Mexican rapists and everything like that, I go, “Oh, my God.”
I said, “This is—” I said: “He’s just buried—they’re going to go nuts.
CNN is literally going to broadcast 24 hours a day.”
By that—he goes to Iowa, I think, that night.
It’s all they talk about.
He goes from number seven.
He’s at one and never looks back.
The next-day polling, Trump’s gone to one.
In fact, I think it’s the next day or the day after,
Don Lemon has him on for the most classic Trump interview in human history.
Lemon’s sitting there hammering him—
“You’ve got to show us some facts. You’ve got to show us some facts.”
And Trump goes—it’s a TV—it’s a phone interview.
Trump goes: “Don! Don! Somebody’s doing the raping,” right?
But it was the mainstream media that catapulted Trump from—because remember, when people—
at the top of the escalator, nobody still thought, even though he had filed his financial report, right,
which in hindsight, you know, is the financial report, but nobody thought—
they thought it was a marketing ploy to get a better deal at The Apprentice, etc.
The mainstream media catapulted him to the number one.
And then it was within 30 days we had the Fox News, the 1st, on Aug. 1, I think it was, was the—
was the debate when Fox News, when [Rupert] Murdoch and [Roger] Ailes, particularly Murdoch, and Ailes,
being part of the Bush apparatus, decided they were going to kneecap Donald Trump right out of the box.
And that’s what Megyn Kelly—they went through his Twitter feed; they went through all The Apprentice tapes;
they went through everything and came out and did a hit like the left would do on somebody.
And that’s when all war broke out.
That’s when Breitbart—that’s when you had to choose sides.
Who’s in the war?
The war was Fox and all the conservative media—National Review, Weekly Standard.
The Republican—basically, it’s a racket.
It’s a racket, because the people are over here.
The voters are focused on illegal immigration, trade deals, jobs, you know, why income inequality, where’s my pay raise,
basic nuts-and-bolts stuff that people—the sovereignty of the country.
The National Review, Weekly Standard, neoliberal neocons are kind of at the beck and call of the donors.
It’s a total disconnect on foreign policy.
And remember, one of the powers of Trump and the basic thing is that America’s in decline,
and the elites are OK with that. This is about managed decline.
So whether it’s health care, the southern border, NATO, China, Iran—pick it, right?—the education system,
we’re in managed decline, and the elites are fine with that.
And what’s looked at as the Republican elites are OK [with that],
because they’re kind of the junior partner and the punching bag of Obama and these progressive Democrats,
and they don’t do anything.
They kind of agree with them at the end of the day.
Remember, after 2014, the reason Obama becomes kind of a hero to the Breitbart staff—
we call him “honorary honey badger”—because we’re humping this thing in ’14, Ebola, the border,
and all of a sudden, he gets smoked in the midterm elections, OK?
What does he do? He calls a press conference for the next day. Press conference, everybody shows up—
This is the shellacking?
Yeah, he gets shellacked.
He loses the Senate. He shows back up. He gets smoked.
He calls a press conference, and all CNN and everybody, New York Times,
is he going to listen to what the people are saying?
Is the country going in a different direction?
Is Obama going to listen?
He gets up there and goes: “OK, guys, here’s how it is.
I’m president of the United States, and you’re not.”
He goes—he has 10 executive orders.
“I’m going to sign immediately.
And by the way, you know that DACA thing?
I’ve got a DAPA [Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents].
I’m adding the parents on to it.
How do you like that?”
I’m sitting there going, “This guy’s my role model.”
I said he just got smoked, and he comes out and hits you right in the mouth.
This is a leader!
Remember, [Speaker of the House John] Boehner collapses.
We get the omnibus.
Everything we fought for we just won! We just won!
And Boehner does this omnibus bill, gives him Planned Parenthood, gives him DACA, everything he’s wanted and more.
That’s when we realized the Republican apparatus is the Washington Generals to their Harlem Globetrotters, right?
You’re just set to lose.
And so—but that is this thing that builds up.
And so when you get to the Fox situation, Fox has chosen a side.
It’s so evident in that—in that debate that they’re there to kneecap Donald Trump, OK?
They’re there to take him out.
And that’s when we go, OK.
So we run 20 stories on Megyn Kelly.
I get Tony Lee and Matt Boyle, my two hammers.
They go right after Megyn Kelly.
We’re going to Alinsky her, right?
We’re going to cut her out from the—cull her out from the herd and just hit her nonstop.
And after about 48 hours, I get a call from Ailes, who was kind of a mentor.
But remember, in building Breitbart, I never allowed anybody at Breitbart to go on Fox, ever.
I went on a couple of times about films—
Because National Review, Rich Lowry, Tucker Carlson at the time, Daily Caller,
none of those guys existed unless they were on Fox.
They’re all on Fox; their guys are on Fox. They’re a subsidiary of Fox.
When—when Ailes calls them up, they’ve got to line up in a certain way, and this was the payoff.
He calls up; they’ve all got to line up in back of Megyn Kelly.
We don’t need Ailes. I don’t need Ailes financially. He’s not going to do anything for me, right?
So we never any—I was never on Fox.
None of our reporters were ever on Fox.
If you want to come here and get some story and get a Drudge link and go on Fox,
you’re in the wrong line of work, because it’s not going to happen.
We’re Breitbart, and we’ve got our own point of view; we’re going to do it our own way.
And this is where it came down to.
All of the rest of them line up with those—with anti-Trump.
And Ailes calls me up and says: “You’ve got to knock off these stories.
She’s crying. She’s all upset. She’s getting death threats.”
I go, “It sounds like a personal problem.”
I said: “We’re not backing off.
We’re going to put more stories up tomorrow.”
And he goes: “You’ve got to calm—what do you guys, you guys”—says: “No, you’re not going to pull what the left pulls.
This is the typical drive-by.
You’re going to go into a guy’s Twitter feed?
You’re going to go into 14 years of a show, and this is what you’re going to come up with, is Rosie O’Donnell?
It doesn’t roll like that, OK?
We’re all in now, OK?
And if you don’t like it, that’s your problem, because I don’t owe you anything.
You have no bearing whatsoever on how we do.”
What were the stakes for you, Steve, at that moment?
Well, the stakes were the country, the country’s.
To me, it’s about the country.
You finally have somebody in Trump that is now giving voice
to kind of this voiceless working class and lower middle class that’s had no representation.
They’ve been voting for Republicans that work exactly against their economic interest.
Look at these trade deals.
They have all this theory of free markets.
These free markets against a mercantilist power is destroying the manufacturing base of the country, right?
You have these guys who were chamber of commerce that—look, the state of Texas is controlled by Republicans.
You have Republican—why can’t you shut down—why can’t you shut down the border?
The reason is they want the labor.
The Republican Party donors want the cheap labor.
That’s the point.
So you finally have a guy that’s speaking in a nonpolitical vernacular,
and you can tell he’s connecting with people already in the rallies.
I said, this is our guy.
He’s a very imperfect instrument, but he’s an armor-piercing shell, OK?
And here’s the other thing: They’re scared to death, right?
They don’t know how to handle this guy.
And remember, he’s against—this Republican primary, there’s 16.
This is the flower of a generation of a billion dollars put in by the Kochs, put in by the Singers,
put in by the donors, the Heritage, AEI [American Enterprise Institute], every vertical.
You’ve got [Jeb] Bush; you’ve got—for the libertarians you’ve got Rand Paul.
For the neocons you’ve got Marco Rubio.
For the big-government conservatives you’ve got Chris Christie. You’ve got Ben Carson.
You look across the board; these 16 in every vertical, it’s the best we’ve ever had.
It’s a hell of a field.
And you’ve got Trump.
And Trump is going to—I tell the guys, he’s going to go through this thing like a scythe through grass, right?
Because he’s talking about what the voters care about.
These other guys are kind of, you know, mumbo-jumbo on all this stuff that you can’t win national elections anymore,
the kind of the Heritage organization talking points, the Paul Ryan, you know, limited government.
It’s fine in concept.
You can’t win—you can’t win places like Wisconsin and Michigan
and the big heartland states in this country to win national elections.
You showed that with [Mitt] Romney. Romney and Paul Ryan.
Paul Ryan would get smoked by nine points in Wisconsin, OK?
Here’s a guy that can actually get Reagan Democrats, can actually get low-propensity voters.
You could see it line up at the time.
So we went to—Fox and ourselves went to war.
… And I have tremendous respect for Roger Ailes.
He just sees the world differently.
They think Trump’s a disaster and is going to blow up the whole thing.
And remember, Roger worked for the Bushes.
This is a totally Bush mindset, OK?
The Bush neoliberal, global economics, neocon foreign policy,
which is the elites that are leading us into decline, Trump is a total rejection of that.
And they’re not into the rejection business; they’re not into disruption.
And Trump is a huge disrupter.
He sends his lawyer down here the next day, who I know pretty well, his personal lawyer.
He come[s] down, and kind of like in the Godfather, give me some bad news.
“You guys have got to stop; this is going to start getting ugly.”
And I said, “We’re not stopping.” I said: “We’re all in.
We’re a populist nationalist site, OK?
And this guy is the populist nationalist candidate.
We’re going to do the news. We’ll do it straight.
And we’re going after Megyn Kelly, OK? Because she’s bad news.”
I told Ailes in the second phone call, I said: “Look, you’ve created a monster.
Don’t think that monster’s not going to turn on you one day.”
I said: “She’s out of control, right?
And we’re going to take her on.”
And so we kept pounding every day of anti-Megyn Kelly articles.
And of course, if you looked at the comments section, these things were getting 10,000 and 15,000, 20,000 comments.
The whole Trump, all the Pepes, all these Trump guys were pounding in here.
And it caused a problem.
But it started to — Fox, I think, started to get the joke, that this guy’s eventually going to be a real guy.
And so throughout the fall and winter, it was this intense kind of battle.
But we were—we had his back the entire way.
So let's talk about… the Access Hollywood moment,
back in that conference room, sitting there, tell me what you said to Trump.
Tell me what you thought when you heard it. Take me in there.
So we finally had Trump very engaged—let’s say this:
When I got there, in August, debate prep was not exactly top of his list.
Trump as a student would be your roommate—he’s what I call a game-day player.
He’s not a guy that’s going to every lecture, getting the books, the textbooks and reading the notes, OK?
He comes in the night before with a pot of coffee, learns what he’s got to learn, goes in, gets whatever grade he gets, right?
I know that guy.
… So we finally—Trump is very engaged, because this is the second debate,
and it’s the one that’s going to be in the round.
This is one he’s not going to be anchored to a podium.
He can get out and kind of, you can see the chemistry and stuff like that. So this is the one.
And he’s actually—we’re actually doing real prep.
And that day we’re up in the 26th-floor conference room, and it’s Friday afternoon, about 2:00.
And I’m sitting there going, you know, this is—we’re closing.
We’re still losing, but we’ve closed—we were like 12 points down, or 10, or 16.
Whatever thing you take in mid-August, we were way down.
We’ve been closing it ever since.
So we’re getting now—we’re competitive.
And all of a sudden, Hope Hicks shows up outside the glass thing, and she’s giving me the signal. And so I step out.
I go out, and I read this thing.
She’s got this transcript, and she’s like about to cry.
She goes, “Oh, this is terrible.”
I go, “What is this?”
She goes, “Oh, they’ve got some videotape, audio.”
I look at it and I read it.
The first time I read it through, it doesn’t look that bad to me.
And I go, I said: “What are you so upset about? What is this?”
“The Washington Post is going to publish a story in an hour.”
And I go, “What’s so bad about it?”
And she goes: “Well, look it. He says, ‘I’m going to grab them by the p---y.’”
And I go, “Oh, maybe I haven’t focused.” So I look down, I go, “Oh, OK, OK.”
So I called Don McGahn, who’s our legal guy.
And so Don McGahn’s going to call The Washington Post legal department.
I’m going to call, like, the editor.
And I call the reporter: “I don’t want to talk to you. Give me your boss.”
You know, I‘m the big shot: “Give me your boss.”
And I go, and I said: “Look, here’s the thing.
You’ve got this thing right here.
Give it to us. We’ll authenticate it.
You know, we’ll do our thing and authenticate it, and we’ll make sure we’ll come back to you.
And it may take a couple days, but by Tuesday, we’ll be back to you,
and we’ll authenticate if this is really Trump and it hasn’t been modified.”
You want to get beyond the debate.
And I said, “We’ll authenticate it.”
I’m like this big shot: “We’ll authenticate it; we’ll deal with this.”
He goes, “Hey, look, dude.”
He says: “It’s 3:50. This thing’s going up in nine minutes. It’ll authenticate itself.”
Boom! That thing hits, and we’re sitting in the conference room.
And on video—I didn’t quite realize it was audio and video—in video, it’s pretty powerful.
So everything shuts down.
Locker room talk.
And so the rest of the day we’ve got to figure out—now, I’ve got a little something.
Understanding this is the time that he’s going to have Hillary Clinton on a stage with him and Bill Clinton in the audience,
what I had done is that months before, with a guy named Aaron Klein at Breitbart,
it was about filming and getting the actual women that Bill Clinton had sexually assaulted.
And even in that we had a special guest: the woman, the young woman who Hillary Clinton had—
the rape victim that Hillary Clinton defended the rapist.
We had them all.
And we were supposed to get them up on Fox during that week—
—on Sean Hannity.
Like I’d done this movie, The Hope and the Change, about Democrats who voted for Obama, or not.
We do an audience show, and he was going to have all the people up there.
We were going to show all the videos, have them cry on stage. Boom.
And for some reason—and I’m not saying that it’s Fox senior management that thought
maybe Hillary’s going to win so they didn’t want to get this kind of down in the mud—
And so Aaron kept filming them at the Watergate Hotel in Washington, D.C.
And so as soon as I saw that, this is now, I think, 3:00 or 4:00 on Friday afternoon,
I call Aaron, and I said, “Check and see if they’re available to come to St. Louis,” right?
And he checked and said, “They’re all—they’d love to come to St. Louis.”
I go, “Fine.”
Aaron was going to put these things up on the Breitbart site,
the filmed interviews of these people because Fox wouldn’t do it, and Drudge was going to link to it.
It was going to be up Sunday morning.
And somehow we’d get them there.
So I’ve got a little thing in my back pocket I’m not telling anybody about.
We go in there, and it’s—it’s kind of a disaster.
We’re trying to figure out what’s going—we’re being inundated now by the Republican Party.
So the first thing we do is, OK, Trump’s going to answer this, and we’re going to do a video, right?
Have him answer; at least buy us some time.
That’s the thing they call the hostage video, right?
We finally get it done I think at midnight. It is a fiasco.
We have a tough time technically. He has to read it off a screen.
He’s editing the thing.
And I actually, when I look back on it, I actually think it’s a work of art.
Let’s say this. The general journalistic community did not agree with me at the time.
They’re going like, “Who put Trump in this little box, right, with a fake New York City background in a hostage video?”
But I think it does—that gets us through Friday.
Next day, we’re going to have a high command meeting.
Wait a minute. On Friday, Ryan and all—is that when Ryan runs and lots of other guys run away?
They’re starting to run, but they don’t run till Saturday morning.
You’re getting—but listen, I can tell the dam’s about to break, right?
We’re getting inundated, nonstop calls.
And poor Reince is sitting there.
In fact, Reince says: “Hey, I’m not going to stay for the shooting of the video.
Let me get back to D.C. and calm things down.”
And I go, “Fine.”
And I said: “But you know, we’ve got to be back up here tomorrow because tomorrow’s going to be Dien Bien Phu, right?
We’re now—we’re going to be under siege.
So we set a meeting for 11:00 in the morning.
And by that morning it’s starting to—I mean, we’re getting—Condi Rice,
everybody, they’re punching out of the ticket, they’re off this thing, out.
And Reince is—I call him, and he’s on the train. Fine.
We get there; it’s about 10 minutes to 11:00, I think it is.
And we’re going to have the meeting up in Trump Tower, OK?
And this is how serious it is.
Jared [Kushner] and Ivanka [Trump], who are very observant, you know, Jewish,
observant Jewish people who really take the Sabbath very seriously, have—in all the campaign have never taken off.
They actually, that night, are around for the shooting of the video in [accordance] with their religious beliefs.
But they actually do everything and come back up the next day.
Everybody—you know, so the whole high command’s going to be there.
And there’s no Reince.
And I get Reince on the phone.
I go: “Where are you? Where are you going to be?”
He says, “I’m down at Penn Station, but I’m going to get back on the train.”
I go, “What do you mean you’re going to get back on the train?”
He says, “Look, I’ve talked to the donors. It’s over. I can’t—if I go there, I’m going to get fired as RNC chair.”
And I go, “Dude, you’re showing up.”
And he goes: “I can’t do it, man. This thing’s over.”
And I go: “What do you mean it’s over? It’s not over. We’re going to power through.”
He says: “You’re not going to power through. This thing’s over.”
We get in this huge argument.
And I’m pretty close to Reince.
Reince is a solid guy.
I said: “You’ve got to show up here.
If you don’t show up here, you’re going to get torched worse than you ever think you’re going to get torched by the donors.
And you’re going to have to do the perp walk.
You’re going to have to come through Trump and that thing with all the TV cameras.
You’re going to have to get in the elevator bank, and you’re going to have to come up and join us.” And he does.
And so we get up there, and then, you know, it’s Rudy [Giuliani] and Christie
and all the traditional politicians are saying it’s over and you’ve got to—you know, Trump’s going around and saying,
“Give me your percentage and what do I do,” and they’re all like, you know, 0%, 20%,
and they want to have him go on 60 Minutes; they want to have him—
Kellyanne [Conway] comes with an idea that David Muir would come in and do a live ABC News thing,
you know, with Melania [Trump] and Ivanka.
And they're not– so the whole thing is kind of a fiasco.
So he finally comes around to me.
He says, “What’s your percentage?”
And I’ve told him from the day I’ve taken this job on and thing:
“You have 100% metaphysical certitude that you will win if you just stick to this populist nationalist message
and hang her as the representative of the elite.
We hang that around her, that she represents the elite, you represent the people, you’re a populist, and we hammer it.
You’re going to win.
I don’t care if you’re 16 down. It doesn’t matter.
The key number is 70% of the people think America’s in decline.
You’re going to return America to her former glory.”
He comes to me and says, “What do you think?”
I said, “100%.”
He goes, “100% what?”
I said: “100%, you’ve got this.
It’s a metaphysical certitude lock.”
He goes, “Knock off with the 100%.”
He goes, “I’ve got to hear your real number.”
I go, “It’s 100%.”
He goes—I said: “Listen, they don’t care.
This is locker room talk. They don’t care about vulgarity or anything like that.
They care about—they care about they’re losing their jobs; they’re losing their country.
They see their country going away from them.
They don’t have anything to pass down to the kids. That’s what they care about.…
You know, Jared and I have … we’ve basically rented the Hilton Ballroom two blocks over, and at 6:00,
we’re going to go out at noon, we’re going to go out here in a half-hour and put up on your Twitter and on Facebook,
‘We’re holding a rally for everybody who shows up in a red hat,’ and we’ll pack it with a bunch of hammerheads,
and you’re going to throw down and just go after The Washington Post and the media.
And that’s how we’re going to power through this.
No, you know, just let’s power through and see Hillary [unintelligible].
Let’s say this. That didn’t exactly get voted.
There was not a unanimous consent we should do that plan.
And we decided to compromise. …
So the compromise is David Muir and ABC.
So David Muir is like, out in the Hamptons. They’re going to helicopter in.
ABC gets the whole crew over, 6:00.
We take a break and go down to the infamous 25th-floor conference room
where we’ve had all the big events in my life with Trump were there—
Trump is going to take an hour, get sorted, come down,
and Christie and Rudy are going to write his preamble that he’s going to be able to say on ABC.
This is 6:00 on Saturday night, live to the nation.
It will be the biggest show in history since MASH, right: Donald Trump addressing the Billy Bush tape.
And I’m sitting at the end of the thing with Stephen Miller.
And watching this I’m sitting there going: “It’s over.
If we do this, it’s over.
There’s just nobody—you can’t pull—this is not—you can’t pull this off.”
So I’m sitting thinking, what are we going to do here?
And he gets there, and Christie and these guys, it’s not even typed—I think it’s handwritten by Christie—
puts it over, and Trump comes out, and Trump’s in a bad mood.
The time we left him alone up in the tower had not been quality time, OK?
In what way?
I just don’t know, but he’s not in a good mood.
He’s in a bad mood, OK? There were a lot of people in a bad mood up there, OK?
The tape—the tape was pretty raw, right?
And now we’ve got—by the way, now we’ve got a full revolt, you know.
Pence is nowhere to be found; he’s not out there saying—he gives—we get a letter from him.
Paul Ryan’s out of the campaign. McConnell’s out.
I mean, now it’s a whole—it’s a thing that—and Reince lays up a proposal.
You know, Reince—he asks Reince, “What do you think?”
He says: “You’ve got two choices.
You’re either going to lose by the biggest landslide in history, or you step down today,
and we’ve got a way that we can restructure the ticket that—
only Colorado’s out of play because they’ve got to mail in the ballots.
Everything else we can get changed, and we can do this.”
I go: “Are you nuts? Not going to do that.”
I told Reince later, I said: “Why did you even bring that up?
It’s not going to happen, OK? It’s not going to happen.
We’ll fight this through some other way, but that is not going to happen.
He’s not going to quit.
Just even to bring that up is absurd.”
That was the donors. … Because they thought they were going to lose the Republican Party.
They thought every woman in America will never vote for a Republican again, right, because this guy’s a barbarian.
We’re in the conference room.
Christie gives him this thing with Rudy, and he starts reading.
Donald Trump says, he gets like two sentences in, and he goes:
“This is crap. This is baby talk. Am I baby? I’m not going to do this.”
He turns around to them; he goes, “It’s got to be better, or I’m out.”
And they go, “Well, make this change.”
He turns around to me; he goes, “This is ridiculous; I’m not doing it.”
And Kellyanne goes: “Well, we’ve got to do it.
They’re flying— ABC’s loading up; this thing’s set up.
David Muir’s helicoptering in. This thing’s a go.”
And Trump just goes, “I’m not doing it.”
And you hear from—you’re all the way up on the 25th floor in Trump Tower.
You can hear on the streets.
Trump goes, “What’s that?”
And you look down.
There’s got to be 10,000 people on Fifth Avenue.
They’ve blocked—they’ve got the police on the horses.
They’ve got riot police.
You look down, and there’s literally this mob down there.
And he goes: “Look, there’s my people, my people. That’s where I’ve got to do.”
I said, “We can’t get to the Hilton; we let it go.”
He says, “I’m just going to go down and talk to my people.”
And I said, “Well, you know, I don’t think all of those are our people.”
Of the mob, probably 80% want Trump’s head on a pike.
There’s 20% are the deplorables.
And most of them are sitting there, angry women that are sitting there wanting to tear Trump apart.
I said, “I don’t know if that’s exactly our crowd.”
But this is what a leader does.
He just says: “No, no, no, these are my people. I’ve got to go talk to my people.”
The Secret Service says: “This is not going to happen.
You’re not going to walk out there. We have no control.”
And he just goes, “I’m going.” He takes off.
And I—Kellyanne goes with him, and then Christie and I have a sidebar tête-à-tête off to the side.
Trump goes down.
That’s that famous picture of Trump just walks out there.
And if you listen to the crowd, you know, two-thirds of the crowd is “We hate you!,” right?
But he blocks it out.
He’s waving and everything like that and turns it into, I think, a seminal moment.
That was—that, in that moment, he won the presidency.
And I realized all my study of military history and everything like this,
campaigns come down to one or two decisions made with imperfect information in the heat of battle and the fog of war.
One way leads you to victory, and the other way leads you to defeat.
There was 90% chance we were going the other way that day, from the night before,
from the pressure that was on him and everything like that.
And that’s what a leader does.
He’s able to reach in and understand something.
And I think people misjudge this in Trump.
He’s got a natural leadership ability to basically focus and make the right decision.
That was the inflection point.
The women we got there the next day and everything like that, but it was in that moment, when he stood up and said,
“I’m not doing this,” and “Oh, you can’t; ABC’s here,” he looks down at the crowd, which was a hostile crowd,
but in his mind turned it into “Those are my people; I’ve got to go down and address them.”
When he went down and did that thing, the whole thing kind of reverted.
And from there on in, we had to still punch it out, but it was—
if it would change in that moment, if he had gone on ABC, Hillary Clinton would be president of the United States.
… We’ve seen the video of you lining up Paula Jones and everybody else, and you have this kind of—
it’s a mirthful look on your face as you’re going in behind the cameras as that is unfolding.
What are you thinking at that point?
So we wanted—I wanted to spring the trap on these guys
because I thought in the Twitter feeds and everything like that, they were so one-sided.
So what we did, we didn’t tell anybody.
It was just Jared.
I got permission from Jared the next day.
I sat with Jared and said—he and I were kind of partners in the campaign—
I said: “Look, here’s how I’m going to bring them, and here’s what we’ll do.
We’re going to get them in a room, line them up with mics,
have Trump come down and talk to them, you know, hug them and everything like that.
And then we’re going to let the media know that we’re ending our debate prep, which technically we are,
and just let them in and spring the trap,
and hit them with a full volley of Paula Jones’ ‘He raped me,’ right, and just hit them, right?
Clinton’s actions versus Trump’s words, and then have them at the debate, where Clinton’s got to walk by them.
They’re going to be in the family section, in the VIP seats right there.
And Bill Clinton’s going to have to walk by them,” because these ladies are so mad,
they’re going to grab a piece of Bill Clinton on national TV and read him the riot act.
And so Trump didn’t know about it; Reince didn’t know about it.
And we got Hope Hicks in on the thing at the last second to get them in and everything like that.
So we walk up to—we’re now in the presidential suite at the hotel.
We’re doing some debate prep and everything like that.
Trump’s off to the side.
I told Jared, “We’ve got to go tell him.”
Walk up and Trump, as often would do, would kind of lean back and almost close his eyes,
and I said: “OK, here’s what we got.
We got Paula Jones and all the women that Trump—that Clinton assaulted.
Plus we got the rape victim, right?
And they’re all fired up.
You’re going to go down.
The media assumes you’re in debate prep.
You’re going to spend 10 or 15 minutes with them, hear their stories, commiserate with them, talk to them.
Then you’re going to sit in the middle.
We’re going to open the door, and they’re going to come in, and we’re going to f---ing hit them, OK?”
And I’m sitting there; I’m making my pitch, right?
He goes—I go, “What do you think?”
He goes, “I love it.”
So just Jared and I, we grab Trump and don’t tell Reince or anybody, we just slip out of the room.
We got a service elevator. We go right down.
And the thing is—and as soon as—that’s when I went over.
I had to see when we sprung the door and they all—and of course, the guys that came in were the ones I detest the most;
they’re all—and the doors open, and they go,
“Is it appropriate to like, grab women without their permission?,” and they’re all yelling.
And they get in there, and it’s like, “What is this?”
And they hit a volley.
And my girl Paula Jones, the first one, “Bill Clinton raped me!,” right?
And just, boom! And they hit it.
It was perfect. And that got us momentum.
Now, what happened backstage was—
remember, at the other debate, they had put Mark Cuban right down in Trump’s eye line, eyesight.
And I said, “No, no, no, the deal is Cuban’s going to be back in the dark.…”
And the guys at the commission goes: “Well, we can’t control it.
You know, we don’t have security to control it.”
I go: “What do you mean? I’ll get the Secret Service and take him out, but he can’t be sitting right in Trump’s line.
That’s not the way it’s going to work.”
These guys go, “Oh, no, no, no, we don’t have security, and he’s got to stay.”
So here I go up and tell them, I said, “Hey, here’s actually the seating for the VIPs.”
And it’s Paula; it’s all of them.
And he goes, “Oh, no, no, no, that’s family only.”
I said: “It’s family only?
That’s interesting, because Claire McCaskill is sitting with the Clintons.
So it’s not—it’s just VIPs.
These were our VIPs.
Melania and Ivanka are going to sit in the first row in back of them,” right?
And these guys go, “Uhh.”
And I said, “Yeah, and Clinton, the way we agreed on the stage thing, we walk out here, you walk out there,
and Bill Clinton’s going to walk right by them.”
And these guys go, “Oh, no, no, no.”
They come back and said, “If you seat them, we’re going to have security remove them.”
I said: “Hang on. We just had a debate two weeks ago.
You couldn’t move Cuban because you don’t have security.”
They go, “Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah.”
So we had this massive fight.
And so we’re down now to like 90 seconds before showtime.
I go up to the—to Mr. Trump, and I say: “OK, look, here’s the drill.
If we force this, we can do it, but it’s going to cause a consternation; it may embarrass Ivanka and Melania. Your call.
We can—I think we’ve done enough.
They’ll still be right there giving him stink eye.”
And he’s rattled; you can tell Bill Clinton and the whole Clinton thing is rattled.
He goes, “Let’s do it that way.”
And I go, “Fine.”
So at the last second we seat the family.
And you saw Bill Clinton—that’s where they had that great shot on Drudge where he’s like looking—
he’s thinking we’re going to like, springboard these—because these women are worked up right now.
They want a piece of Bill Clinton big time.
And that energy and having Hillary—and you could tell Clinton, she was off her game that night.
We had rattled them.
And so I think that gave us the velocity.
That gave us the muzzle velocity to kind of drive home in the last, you know, four or five weeks of the campaign.
So he wins.
Well, well—that ground has been covered.
Well, one part maybe hasn’t.
We say “wins.”
I’m the 100% metaphysical certitude.
And we get the—we get the—we get the exit polls at 5:00.
The exit polls at 5:00 are—were tied in Iowa and Ohio, that I had us up like three or five points. Tied.
We’re losing everywhere else, including blown out in Pennsylvania, blown out in Florida.
This is like a—I forget the total number.
I think it was like a 350-electoral vote, 400-electoral vote. This is a landslide.
We are blown out. I mean, it is a catastrophe.
And I’m sitting there.
We step on the balcony. And it’s so bad that Jared and I—nobody should see these.
And we look at them, and I go: “We can’t be that far off. We’ve got this thing.
We’re over top of Wisconsin. I mean, we’re competitive in Pennsylvania. It can’t be this bad.”
And he goes—Jared says, “Hang on one second.”
He calls Drudge, and Drudge goes: “F--- these things.
This is all corporate media.
This is all f---ed up. They’re lying.”
So I feel better.
And we call Trump, and Trump goes: “Hey, we left it all in the field. Nothing else we could have done.”
And we decided that since it’s—we get the kids, and we got Don Jr. and some others get on talk radio,
The Mark Levin Show, and, hey, we’ve got to—and it was a big lesson.
We heard almost instantaneously, people came to us and said the newsrooms, you know,
were high-fiving and people were laughing.
This is Trump.
Not just a defeat.
This is going to be—to crush this thing, right?
All this disruption and all Trump’s stuff and all these kind of guys in red hats, it’s over.
And it was a huge lesson for me, because it started to play out exactly like—
the only thing that concerned me is the Detroit Free Press called, I think it was 8:00 or 9:00,
right out of the box, they called Michigan for Hillary Clinton.
And they are—you know, in 150 years, I don’t think they’ve ever been wrong.
They’re—it’s not like some broadcast TV thing that’s got—they were—they’re on it.
And I go, man, I said, that’s—because I think we’re going to win Michigan.
Michigan, I got—you know, we got this.
And I think it was around midnight.
It was right after Ohio and a couple of others came in.
We had like five states that hadn’t been called at midnight for the first time in their history.
The Detroit Free Press reversed it and said too close to call.
And that’s when I said, “Trump’s president of the United States.”
Did he think he was going to lose?
He’s so—he’s competitive.
Not that he was going to lose.
He was so competitive.
But of course, the drumbeat—you’ve got to remember, every day on Morning Joe, every day in The New York Times,
we’re the island of misfit toys, we’re the—because I’d never been in a campaign headquarters in my life.
You know, Kellyanne had never run a campaign. She’s a pollster, right?
We’re just this group of— it’s a grab bag of people.
Now we could see, particularly in these kind of working-class districts,
that’s why we kept going back to Wisconsin; that’s why we kept going to Michigan.
Remember, in Wisconsin, Paul Ryan wouldn’t campaign with us on that Sunday because he says we’re going to lose;
I can’t take two national defeats.
And we don’t go to Wisconsin because Ryan won’t be on the stage with us…
The key thing is that the algo—first off, two things.
Number one, there’s a lot of people that vote for Trump that will never admit to voting for Trump.
That’s one of the reasons the exit polls were wrong, is that they won’t admit it even if they voted for him.
The other one was algorithm of the Detroit Free Press was at from the urban areas
that they extrapolated out the algorithms of the rural areas,
and that’s where Trump overperformed, in kind of small-town America, right?
He overperformed where we had kind of focused.
And so those two things had the—had the exit polls wrong,
and that led to this [massive] surprise where the whole media was so joyous at the beginning of the night,
and then starting at like 9:00 or 10:00, you could tell that this thing was going in the—this thing was going in our direction.
Let’s go the inauguration, what a lot of people call the “American carnage” speech.
Did you write that speech?
No, the president wrote it, but Miller and I had—the inauguration speech was the—it was—
there were two speeches that week, that people don’t focus on the other.
There was President Xi goes to Davos on Tuesday, I think, and gives a speech on globalization.
And Trump’s speech on Friday, it’s called the “American carnage” speech.
You know, maybe we should have realized in writing it that that would be the takeaway line, but the takeaway line—
and I don’t want this to sound too high-falutin’, but it was structured a little bit on Lincoln’s second inaugural.
Lincoln goes back through all the causes of the war, right?
He talks about his previous thing and what had happening in the country,
and then he ends with this very powerful phrase, “And then war came.”
And he stops, pauses, and then he does the rest of the speech.
Our whole thing was to build up with the president about how the elites had not taken action, that the country got in this thing.
And the punch line was, “Now comes the hour of action.”
Boom, you lead down to that, hit with the “hour of action,” and then Trump talks about what he’s going to do.
Obviously, we had the “American carnage” line in there.
But it was really, if you look at the two speeches in hindsight, it’s really two—
it’s one is pitching kind of this globalized, globalist system
where you have a center of power that happens to be in China in administrative units throughout the world.
And Xi’s speech is very particular of that the problem in the world today is caused by populism;
it’s called by nationalism; it’s called by this.
Trump’s is a defense of essentially the Westphalian system.
It is a defense of the nation-state as the unit of government, as the unit of how we’re going to govern us,
govern ourselves with the citizen, a free citizen, as the basic unit of that.
And so that speech, which Trumps works on intensely in Mar-a-Lago—
and this one, because Trump would not practice the rally speeches.
We’d have it up there, and he would go off script.
Here he practiced over and over again, including the night after all the balls and everything.
Stephen and I were cleaning it up; we had the exact same—
because we’d been on the stage to make sure everything was perfect.
We went back to Blair House, and we actually had the exact podium in Blair House in one of the old libraries there.
The president came back at like midnight and practiced a couple more times.
So he was—he was very bought into this thing and kind of owned that speech,
which I think is still one of the most powerful speeches.
He conceived this thing.
I remember in Mar-a-Lago, he’s working on the lines “We will form new alliances and create new ones,”
or—excuse me—“We will form new alliances and rejuvenate old ones.
And we will unite the civilized world to eradicate radical Islamic terrorism from the face of the earth.”
And at the time I kind of said, “Hey, that’s a big check you’re going to have to cash.”
But this was his focus on the destruction of the physical caliphate of ISIS to start off with, and he wanted that in there.