- REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
White House chief strategist Steve Bannon said that he has big plans for the Defense and State Departments in an interview published Wednesday in The American Prospect.
Bannon said that the US and China are “in an economic war” and that he plans to purge officials dovish on trade in the two departments as well as in the Treasury Department and the National Economic Council, The Prospect said.
“Oh, they’re wetting themselves,” Bannon said.
He added that he’s “changing out people at East Asian Defense; I’m getting hawks in. I’m getting Susan Thornton out at State,” referring to the acting head of East Asian and Pacific Affairs.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, however, reportedly has no plans to remove Thornton.
Tillerson”asked Susan Thornton to lead in a very important role and he continues to rely on her to lead the State Department’s diplomacy in Asia,” a State Department spokesperson told the Daily Beast.
There has long been a rift “between the Bannon camp of ideologues and the McMaster-Mattis-Tillerson camp of more centrist intellectuals,” according to Politico’s Pete Mansoor.
The issue for Bannon here appears to be complaints, based on Section 301 of the 1974 Trade Act, about China coercing American companies in China to pass technology information to Beijing, as well as aluminum and steel dumping, The Prospect said.
These Section 301 complaints, however, were put on hold during the North Korea standoff last week, but Bannon, who apparently didn’t think he was being interviewed, told The Prospect that they will brought up again in three weeks.