Type to search

Exclusive: Bannon Delivered Anti-EU Message To Diplomat Before Pence Visit

Europe Politics Top News US White House World

Exclusive: Bannon Delivered Anti-EU Message To Diplomat Before Pence Visit

Pence, EU

BERLIN (Reuters) – In the week before U.S. Vice President Mike Pence visited Brussels and pledged America’s “steadfast and enduring” commitment to the European Union, White House chief strategist Steve Bannon met with a German diplomat and delivered a different message, according to people familiar with the talks.

Bannon, these people said, signaled to Germany’s ambassador to Washington that he viewed the EU as a flawed construct and favored conducting relations with Europe on a bilateral basis.

Three people who were briefed on the meeting spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter. The German government and the ambassador, Peter Wittig, declined to comment, citing the confidentiality of the talks.

A White House official who checked with Bannon in response to a Reuters query confirmed the meeting had taken place but said the account provided to Reuters was inaccurate. “They only spoke for about three minutes and it was just a quick hello,” the official said.

The sources described a longer meeting in which Bannon took the time to spell out his world view. They said his message was similar to the one he delivered to a Vatican conference back in 2014 when he was running the right-wing website Breitbart News.

In those remarks, delivered via Skype, Bannon spoke favorably about European populist movements and described a yearning for nationalism by people who “don’t believe in this kind of pan-European Union.”

Western Europe, he said at the time, was built on a foundation of “strong nationalist movements”, adding: “I think it’s what can see us forward”.

The encounter unsettled people in the German government, in part because some officials had been holding out hope that Bannon might temper his views once in government and offer a more nuanced message on Europe in private.

One source briefed on the meeting said it had confirmed the view that Germany and its European partners must prepare for a policy of “hostility towards the EU”.

A second source expressed concern, based on his contacts with the administration, that there was no appreciation for the EU’s role in ensuring peace and prosperity in post-war Europe.

“There appears to be no understanding in the White House that an unraveling of the EU would have grave consequences,” the source said.

The White House said there was no transcript of the conversation. The sources who had been briefed on it described it as polite and stressed there was no evidence Trump was prepared to go beyond his rhetorical attacks on the EU — he has repeatedly praised Britain’s decision to leave — and take concrete steps to destabilize the bloc.

But anxiety over the White House stance led French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault and Wolfgang Ischinger, chairman of the Munich Security Conference, to issue unusual calls last week for Pence to affirm during his visit to Europe that the U.S. was not aiming to break up the EU.

Pence obliged on Monday in Brussels, pledging strong ties between the United States and the EU, and making clear his message was shared by the president.

“President Trump and I look forward to working together with you and the European Union to deepen our political and economic partnership,” he said.

But the message did not end the concerns in European capitals.

“We are worried and we should be worried,” Thomas Matussek, senior adviser at Flint Global and a former German ambassador to the Britain and the United Nations, told Reuters.

“No one knows anything at the moment about what sort of decisions will be coming out of Washington. But it is clear that the man on top and the people closest to him feel that it’s the nation state that creates identity and not what they see as an amorphous group of countries like the EU.”

With elections looming in the Netherlands, France, and Germany this year, European officials said they hoped Pence, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson could convince Trump to work constructively with the EU.

The worst-case scenario from Europe’s point of view was described by Ischinger in an article published last week, entitled “How Europe should deal with Trump”.

He said that if the U.S. administration actively supported right-wing populists in the looming election campaigns it would trigger a “major transatlantic crisis”.

(Additional reporting by Roberta Rampton and Alastair Macdonald in Brussels, Jeff Mason in Washington; editing by Mark John)

IMAGE: U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and European Council President Donald Tusk hold a joint news conference in Brussels, Belgium, February 20, 2017. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir/File Photo



  1. Dominick Vila February 21, 2017

    To say that the Trump administration has been sending mixed signals to the world is an under statement. From fake claims (Sweden) to encouragement to break up the EU, to Pence fence-mending visit to Europe to reassure NATO members that the man that question the need of NATO, and demanded member nations to pay more for our protection, it is almost impossible to determine where Trump stands on anything. Add to that his comments about the one-China policy, his decision to back off from that stand now that he learned that we need China to control North Korea; his divide and conquer statements about Israel, which are designed to provoke confrontation between the Israeli center-right and the far right; his comments about Mexicans, Muslims, and everything else that comes out of his mouth, and trying to figure out where this administration stands on foreign policy is as immature as his criticisms of the Obama administration.

  2. SeanM62 February 21, 2017

    Nobody knows what is going on in the new WH. There are conflicting messages floating out – a strategy to throw everyone off balance, to sow confusion, divide and conquer. Do not trust these crooks by what they say, just what they do, which is usually too late to respond adequately. Best to act aggressively toward them and let them react. We are a country now not to be trusted. One last thing – Its obvious Pence is not told what is going on, so don’t believe what he says – he may not be actively lying but he just doesn’t know, as he isn’t told.

    1. dpaano February 21, 2017

      It’s pretty apparent that Bannon keeps the VP in the dark, much as he keeps 45 in the dark and only tells him what he needs to hear!

      1. SeanM62 February 22, 2017

        Unfortunate and dangerous situation for all concerned. Looks like Bannon is the real WH power and decider. Yikes!! Who elected him??

  3. Mama Bear February 21, 2017

    I had read that there were dangerous “power silos” within the Trump WH and this is what happens. Just how long will we allow this kind of thing to continue?

    1. oldabatt February 21, 2017

      “power septic tanks”

      1. Mama Bear February 21, 2017

        Best one yet!

  4. Wrily February 21, 2017

    It’s time to impeach President Bannon.

    1. oldabatt February 21, 2017

      With the traditional “double tap”.

      1. Wrily February 22, 2017


  5. dpaano February 21, 2017

    Someone seriously needs to get rid of Bannon…..he’s dangerous, and the fact that he has 45’s ear is even more dangerous!! This man is out to bring down this government, and he’s using the president to accomplish it. 45 is just too stupid and too naïve about government to see Bannon for what he is!!!

    1. righteous mob February 21, 2017

      I think 45 is basically on the same page as Bannon, but for different reasons. They’re both contemptuous of the common people, and it seems that worldwide political instability, to the detriment of the institutions that have given the
      West unprecedented peace and prosperity for decades, is key to them achieving their ends.

      1. dpaano February 22, 2017

        Personally, I’m not so sure that 45 is on the same page…..if so, the ONLY reason is because he tends to listen to whatever Bannon tells him and does whatever Bannon suggests! He generally listens to the last person that gets to him, which is usually Bannon!

    2. yabbed February 22, 2017

      Perhaps Gen McMaster can get rid of him. Or maybe Bannon will get rid of McMaster. You never know in the administration who is the president.

      1. dpaano February 22, 2017

        Personally, I’d trust McMasters before I’d trust Bannon! Bannon’s goal is to create major chaos in our government, and he’s doing a really good job of it! Hopefully, McMaster’s can get 45’s ear and make him understand what’s going on!

        1. yabbed February 22, 2017

          You know Trump is not capable of understanding what is going on. 🙂 That said, I hope McMaster can simply take charge of his new job and remove Bannon from the NSC.

      2. SeanM62 February 22, 2017

        President Bannon. Trump just signs stuff and watches TV to see what’s going on so he can carpet-bomb the tweetsphere. Who was it that said, “What we need is a president who can hold a pen in his hand?” Paraphrased, of course.

  6. yabbed February 22, 2017

    For those wondering if it were Pence or Bannon as president, now we know: it’s President Bannon.

  7. bobnstuff February 22, 2017

    The most dangerous person in the world today is Bannon. If Trump keeps him by his side and doesn’t start listening to the rest of his government we could see and end to the planet. He seems to have a power over Trump that could end badly, like pushing that button for a nuclear strike. There is something wrong with our presidents mental health. Bannon knows this and is using it. For the first time I’m truly fearful of the safety of our world.

  8. I of John February 23, 2017

    now…Who’s speaking for the America?

  9. Taylor Gibson February 23, 2017

    I was paid $104000 in 2016 by working online from my house a­n­d I did that by wo­rking in my own time for 3+ hrs on daily basis. I followed an earning model I found online and I am so happy that I was able to earn so much money. It’s beginner-friendly and I’m just so happy that i discovered this. Here’s what I did… please visit my account for webpage

  10. Gemma Harrison February 26, 2017

    I have earned 104,000 bucks in last twelve months by doing an on-line job at my house a­­n­­d I did it by wor­king in my own time f­o­r few hours a day. I followed an earning model I came across from this website i found online and I am excited that i was able to make such great money. It’s very user-friendly a­n­d I am just so happy that I found out about this. Here’s what I do… http://twitter.com/StinnettMargar1/status/836012639364886528

  11. john_hopper March 23, 2017

    I was paid 104000 dollars previous 12 month period by doing a web based task and also I was able to do it by w­orking in my own time f­o­r quite a few hours every day. I utilized work opportunity I stumbled upon online and therefore I am excited that I was in the position to earn such great money. It’s seriously newbie-friendly and I am so pleased that I discovered out regarding it. Read through exactly what I do… http://secure10.weebly.com

  12. Gabriel Jenkins March 25, 2017

    I was paid 104000 dollars last year by doing an on-line task while I was able to do it by w­orking in my own time f­o­r quite a few hours on a daily basis. I tried job opportunity I found on the internet and I am thrilled that I was able to make such decent cash. It is genuinely newbie-friendly and therefore I’m so delighted that I found out about it. Have a look at exactly what I do… http://urll.in/b0g18


Leave a Comment Wrily Cancel Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.