If you thought Steve Bannon was a force on the inside, that's nothing compared to his gale-force potential now that he’s unleashed.
On Friday the self-described “wingman outside” was the keynoter at the California Republican convention, where he blasted as “one of the great dangers we face” the “permanent political class” embodied by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Today Bannon will be a featured speaker at a Hudson Institute forum on “countering violent extremism.” He’s lined up on a speaking program alongside David Petraeus and Leon Panetta, a pair of former CIA directors with extensive backgrounds in top military and government roles.
Bannon is now the de facto leader of the GOP insurgent wing. He’s the go-to man for Republican primary challengers but with a critical twist: he still has the ear, and maybe the heart, of President Donald Trump himself.
As The Washington Post reported over the weekend, Bannon and Trump are still in regular contact, with the president respecting his instinct to blow things up along the way. A week ago, just before McConnell appeared alongside Trump in the Rose Garden, Trump declared of Bannon, “I know how he feels.”
With this combination of media influence – Breitbart, plus wide coverage of his public appearances – and real and perceived influence in the White House, this is a force unlike any we’ve seen.
Bannon is arguably more powerful right now than when he was in power.
The RUNDOWN with Rick Klein
President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence are hoping to appeal to party unity in the push for tax reform. But a crowded agenda could strain that unity before Republicans hit the finish line.
"We need to do this for the party, and more importantly for the American people," the president said on a call Sunday afternoon with House Republicans, a source told ABC News' Benjamin Siegel.
Trump also affirmed his commitment to the Republican Party as the GOP pursues its last best shot at a legislative accomplishment.
House Speaker Paul Ryan told rank-and-file members the House should pass the Senate version of the budget resolution this week, rather than spending precious time matching it up with their own budget proposal.
Left unsaid on the call – still – were the details of the tax plan that leadership hopes can clear the House before Thanksgiving. Those details could be forthcoming as early as next week.
That’s where the crowded agenda comes in.
Congress has to pass overall government funding and raise the debt ceiling by Dec. 8. Democrats are also expected to push for protections for DACA recipients and the payment of health care subsidies to insurers in any year-end agreement.
It makes for rough sledding under the best-case scenario – especially since Republicans haven’t been able to achieve much all year.
The TIP with Stephanie Ebbs
Playboy Magazine is taking on a new philosophy that will focus on environmentalism, presumably in the articles more than the photography.
The new philosophy was posted Friday by Cooper Hefner, Hugh Hefner's son and Playboy's chief creative officer. In it, he writes that Playboy will be exploring a new focus on environmental ideas and conservationism.
Hefner even takes a confrontational tone when discussing the administration's attitude toward objective science by calling out Republicans and "climate deniers all the way to the Oval Office."
He ends the mission statement by calling on everyone to work together to advance this cause "whether or not the government is on our side."
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY:
QUOTE OF THE DAY
"I think that the Trump administration is slow when it comes to Russia. They have a blind spot on Russia I still can't figure out." -- Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham on the delay implementing sanctions against Russia on "Meet the Press" on Sunday.
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