Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) on Thursday became the first elected Republican lawmaker to call for the firing of White House strategist Steve Bannon.
“I think it’s important for the president to fire Steve Bannon. He should go,” King said in an interview with WABC.
The longtime New York lawmaker cited an interview Bannon gave this week in which the former Breitbart News chief called racial strife and controversy surrounding the removal of Confederate statues across the country a winning issue for President Donald Trump.
“The Democrats,” Bannon told liberal publication The American Prospect, “the longer they talk about identity politics, I got ’em. I want them to talk about racism every day. If the left is focused on race and identity, and we go with economic nationalism, we can crush the Democrats.”
Bannon was “thrilled” and “proud” that Trump on Tuesday equated the actions of counter-protesters with those of white supremacists at an out-of-control weekend rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, according to reports citing unnamed sources.
King said Bannon was “exploiting the racial issue. That can’t be allowed.”
King, a member of the Homeland Security Committee, also said Bannon was “undercutting the president” on Noth Korea by claiming in the same interview that “there’s no military solution” to dictator Kim Jong-Un’s nuclear threats.
“To me, his time in the White House should be over,” King said.
Trump defended Bannon on Tuesday, calling him “not a racist” and a “good person.” Still, the president left the door open to continued speculation about Bannon’s future in the White House.
“I like him. He’s a good man. We’ll see what happens with Mr. Bannon,” Trump said during a press conference in New York City.
America does not do a good job of tracking incidents of hate and bias. We need your help to create a database of such incidents across the country, so we all know what’s going on. Tell us your story.