January 7, 2018 12:09 pm

Trump-Bannon rift a positive sign for Republicans: Michael Steel

WATCH ABOVE: Republican strategist and insider Michael Steel tells Vassy Kapelos he believes there is truth in the controversial new book "Fire and Fury.

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A Republican party strategist says he’s confident that a rift between U.S. President Donald Trump and former White House senior adviser Steve Bannon is actually a good thing, but he’s still worried about Trump’s mental state.

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“I hope that (the feud) means the end of trying to meld or weld this more nationalistic … if not outright xenophobic element onto the traditional Republican party,” said Michael Steel, who once served as senior campaign adviser to presidential candidate Jeb Bush and spokesperson for former House Speaker John Boehner.

“I think if we reduce the influence and impact of the nationalist fringe, of characters like Mr. Bannon … I think that’s a big plus for the party going into the midterms.”

Trump and Bannon are in the midst of a very public feud, with Bannon quoted in a tell-all book about the Trump White House that hit shelves on Friday and instantly sold out.

READ MORE: Author of White House tell-all book says he spent 3 hours with Trump, backs interviews

In the book, the head of right-wing publication Breitbart News is quoted as saying that a summer 2016 meeting with a group of Russians at Trump Tower was “treasonous” and “unpatriotic.” Trump quickly issued a statement saying that Bannon had “lost his mind.” The president then tried to halt the book’s publication.

“Last week was one of the most consequential weeks of the Trump presidency in terms of the future of the Republican party and, in many ways, the country,” Steel told The West Block‘s Vassy Kapelos.

But the book, written by author Michael Wolff, also raises serious concerns about Trump’s ability to handle the stresses and complexities of his job as president, Steel acknowledged.

READ MORE: Some of the things we have learned from Michael Wolff’s ‘Fire and Fury’ book

“I worry that it’s true,” Steel said.

“I think that the description of the president as someone utterly incapable of receiving new information, either written or verbal, is extremely troubling. I think it tracks with some of the concerns that many people have had even before he was elected. And it’s a frightening prospect for the country.”

Still, he added, the recent passage of a huge tax reform law demonstrates that Republicans and others within the executive and legislative branches of the U.S. government have learned to “compensate for some of the deficiencies in the president himself.”

“(It) is a testament to the ability of congressional Republican leaders and others in the Trump administration to effectively make policy regardless of the president’s tweets.”

 – Watch the full interview with Michael Steel above

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