President Donald Trump’s former chief strategist Steve Bannon said White House economic adviser Gary Cohn "absolutely" should resign along with any other aides who can’t adequately stand by the president.
"When you side with a man you side with him," Bannon, who left his post last month, told Charlie Rose in an interview, excerpts of which were released Thursday. The full interview is to be broadcast Sunday on the CBS program “60 Minutes.”
"If you’re going to break with him, resign," Bannon said. "If you find it unacceptable you should resign." He said Cohn, who was critical of Trump’s message after the deadly aftermath of racially charged protests last month in Charlottesville, Virginia, "absolutely" had an obligation to resign.
As for his own relationship with Trump, Bannon downplayed the strains that grew during his time at the White House. "I’m going to be his wingman outside for the entire time," he said of his plans going forward, pledging to make sure that "his enemies know there’s no free shot on goal."
In the excerpts released Thursday, Bannon also accused the Catholic Church of promoting illegal immigration to fill the pews, saying the church’s position is about economic reality, not doctrine.
Bannon, a Catholic, said the church hasn’t come to grips with its own larger problems and as a result "they need illegal aliens to fill the churches. It’s obvious on the face of it."
"They have an economic interest in unlimited immigration, unlimited illegal immigration," Bannon said.
"I totally respect the Pope and I totally respect the Catholic bishops and cardinals on doctrine, but this is not about doctrine,” he added. "This is about the sovereignty of a nation."
Bannon said he disagreed with Trump’s position on ending the Obama-era initiative called the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or the “Dreamers” program, which protects undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children, but "I understand how he struggled with it."
Trump had campaigned on ending the program in 2016, but on Tuesday he announced he had delayed enforcement for six months to give Congress time to pass a replacement program, if it so desires. While polls show most Americans support letting these immigrants stay, Trump’s backers say ending the program is necessary to protect rule of law.
"Trust me the guys on far right, the guys on the conservative side are not happy with this."
On Charlottesville, Bannon said he backed Trump’s response.
“What he was trying to say is that people that support the monument staying there peacefully and people that oppose that, that’s the normal course of — of First Amendment,” Bannon said. “When he’s talking about the Neo-Nazis and Neo-Confederates and the Klan, who, by the way, are absolutely awful — there’s no room in American politics for that. There’s no room in American society for that.
“And all Donald Trump was saying is, "Where does it end? Does it end in taking down the Washington Monument? Does it end in taking down Mount Rushmore? Does it end at taking Churchill’s bust out of the Oval Office?"
Bannon said that while aides can disagree with the president in private, they should resign if if they were going to publicly break with him.
“I’m talking, obviously, about Gary Cohn and some other people,” Bannon said. “That if you don’t like what he’s doing and you don’t agree with it, you have an obligation to resign.