New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie lost his chance at a spot in President Donald Trump’s Cabinet because he failed to offer his support for the candidate after the damaging “Access Hollywood” tape was leaked, former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon claims in an interview airing this Sunday.
“Christie, because of Billy Bush weekend, was not looked at for a Cabinet position,” Bannon, now executive chairman at Breitbart News, told CBS’s Charlie Rose in the “60 Minutes” interview, according to an excerpt aired Friday on “CBS This Morning.”
“I told him ‘the plane leaves at 11-o’clock in the morning,'” Bannon continued. “‘If you make the plane, you make the team.’ He didn’t make the plane.”
The video, obtained by The Washington Post a few weeks before the election, revealed graphic audio of Trump boasting to show host Billy Bush about groping women, and proved a litmus test for the campaign, Bannon said.
That weekend, Trump met with senior advisers, including Bannon, then-Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, and Christie, while they discussed what steps they would be taking next.
“Trump went around the room and asked people the percentages he thought of — of still winning and what the recommendation,” Bannon said. “Reince started off and Reince said, ‘You have — you have two choices. You either drop out right now, or you lose by the biggest landslide in American political history.'”
Trump, “with his humor,” goes “‘that’s a great way to start our conversation,'” Bannon recalled.
And then, going around the room, many of the politicians in attendance were shocked by the media attack, but Trump wasn’t, said Bannon.
“I told him as he went around, I was the last guy to speak, and I said, ‘it’s 100 percent. You have 100 percent probability of winning,'” said Bannon.
Bannon said that he told Trump to “double down,” and that he told him to do that every time because it would appeal to the American people.
“You know why? ‘Cause — it was a winner,” said Bannon. “That’s why I told him ‘double down’ every time. And on that day, that’s the first time and only time he ever got upset with me. He goes, ‘Come on, it’s not 100 percent,’ I go, ‘It’s absolutely 100 percent.’ And I told him why. ‘They don’t care.'”
“But they, they do care about respect for women,” Rose said, and Bannon agreed, but Trump’s comments were “just locker room talk,” Bannon replied.
Bannon said the incident was a “litmus test” that showed who really sided with Trump.
“I said it the other day to [White House Chief of Staff] General [John] Kelly during the Charlottesville thing, afterwards,” said Bannon. “It’s a line I remember from the movie. ‘The Wild Bunch.’ William Holden uses it right before that huge gunfight at the end. ‘When you side with a man, you side with him,’ okay? The good and the bad.”
“Billy Bush Saturday,” he continued, “showed me who really had Donald Trump’s back to play to his better angels. All you had to do, and what he did, was go out and continue to talk to the American people.”
Americans, knowing the comments were “just doing locker room talk with a guy,” dismissed it, Bannon said. “It had no lasting impact on the campaign. Yet, if you see the mainstream media that day, it was, literally, he was falling into Dante’s Inferno.”