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Donald Trump's chief strategist Steve Bannon not anti-Semitic as he worked for Goldman Sachs, says Newt Gingrich

Stephen Bannon was appointed as Mr Trump's strategist and senior counsellor on Sunday

Alexandra Sims
Monday 14 November 2016 18:51 GMT
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Stephen Bannon
Stephen Bannon (Getty Images )

Former US House Speaker Newt Gingrich has dismissed accusations that Donald Trump’s senior counsellor Stephen Bannon is associated with anti-Semitism and the alt-right due to the fact he has worked as “a managing partner at Goldman Sachs” and “a Hollywood movie producer”.

Speaking on the American CBS programme Face the Nation on Sunday, Mr Gingrich dubbed an article in the New Review magazine that suggested Mr Trump's presidential victory had been supported by a fringe of anti-Semites as “garbage”.

He added that smears against Mr Bannon were void as Mr Trump's senior counsellor "was a managing partner at Goldman Sachs, he was a Hollywood movie producer".

Mr Bannon, the former head of the right-wing website Breitbart News was appointed as Mr Trump’s strategist and senior counsellor on Sunday, while Washington insider Reince Priebus was announced as White House chief of staff.

A statement said Mr Bannon and Mr Priebus would be "working as equal partners to transform the federal government", but Mr Bannon’s appointment is expected to make more traditional Republicans wary after he was dogged by accusations of anti-Semitism since joining Mr Trump's campaign team in August.

Mr Bannon, became executive chairman of ultra-conservative Breitbart News in 2012 which is accused of filtering so-called “alt-right”, white nationalist views into the mainstream.

In 1996, Mr Bannon was charged with misdemeanor domestic violence and battery after an incident involving his ex-wife. The case was dismissed when prosecutors were unable to contact her, but in a 2007 court filing, the same ex-wife accused him of making anti-Semitic comments about the Archer School for Girls in Los Angeles to which the couple planned to send their daughters. Mr Bannon pleaded not guilty to the domestic violence charges and denied he made the comments.

During the interview on Sunday, Face of the Nation host John Dickerson quoted the New Review article titled 'The Alt-right President' by Ian Tuttle, which said: “[Mr Trump's] victory in the primaries gave unprecedented visibility to the alt-Right, a small but vocal fringe of white supremacists and anti-Semites and self-proclaimed fascists.

“Supporting a President Trump cannot mean giving a pass to the ugly fringe that has risen with him.”

In response, Mr Gingrich, who is among those reported to be under consideration for top posts in Mr Trump’s administration, said: “I just have to say, that’s garbage."

"I’m thinking, this is crazy. Donald Trump is a mainstream conservative who wants to profoundly take on the left. The left is infuriated that anybody would challenge the legitimacy of their moral superiority, and so the left goes hysterical.”

“But the fact is, and you get this with all these smears of Steve Bannon. Steve Bannon is a naval officer, he was a managing partner at Goldman Sachs, he was a Hollywood movie producer,” he said. “The idea that somehow he represents, and I had never heard of the alt-right until the nut cakes started writing about it.”

John Weaver, the chief strategist for Mr Trump's former Republican primary rival, Ohio Governor John Kasich, was among those who expressed dismay at Mr Bannon's appointment to a White House role, describing him in a tweet as a "racist" and "anti-Semite".

Democrats sharply criticized Mr Bannon’s appointment. Representative Adam Schiff tweeted: "Selection of Steve Bannon for senior WH role unsurprising but alarming. His alt-right, anti-Semitic & misogynistic views don't belong in WH."

Additional reporting by Reuters

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