Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon joined FNC's Maria Bartiromo on "Sunday Morning Futures" to weigh in on the first week of impeachment inquiry hearings, Michael Bloomberg, and the 2020 race.
STEVE BANNON, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF STRATEGIST: Thanks for having me back.
BARTIROMO: Thank you so much for joining us.
I want to get to Michael Bloomberg in a minute.
BARTIROMO: But, first, let's talk about this week being the kickoff to 2020. This was your sentiment initially.
BANNON: Well, here's the thing.
It's been a tremendous reversal of fortune. The president said a couple weeks ago, I think he tweeted out unity and substance, unity and substance. And so, as the Democrats brought to the nation this impeachment hearing, and particularly on broadcast TV and cable, nonstop, the ratings on FOX were off the charts.
Many of the independents and kind of low-information voters that are not on politics all the time came into the story. And it was a flop. I mean, it absolutely -- if you see the numbers of independents, you see the shift over the last two or three weeks, it's been -- it's been pretty amazing.
And this is what the president said. It's not -- his call was perfect, but he's making a very strong point. This is why he was elected to be president of the United States. He wants people get more into the granularity, more into the substance of what went on.
And as you saw these -- as you saw the unelected bureaucrats -- and right -- I'm not questioning their patriotism, but as they went up day in and day out, under the withering kind of cross-examination by people like Congresswoman Stefanik, it just kind of -- nothing came of it.
And I think people are now looking at it, and particularly independents, and saying, what are we doing on USMCA? What are we doing on opioids, prescription drugs, infrastructure, the business of the nation?
Vanity Fair went into a Politico Morning Consult poll. And the numbers are stunning. I think by 3-1 independents don't know why we're doing this. Impeachment ranked last among their interests, even lower than the wall, which is not high for independents.
BANNON: So, across the board, they're sitting there going, what are you doing? Why are you not focused on the business of getting -- making the country better, making the economy better?
And people have very little time now. One of the reasons is, Donald Trump's put everybody back to work. So everybody's busy. They can only watch this in certain snippets. And I think Adam Schiff did the president a great service this week by having these hearings and letting people see what's going on.
And now you're seeing, in these 31 districts, many of these congressmen have to go home and have to defend this. So, it's going to be a tough week for Democrats.
BARTIROMO: Yes, let's talk about those 31 districts.
I want to get to Michael Bloomberg, because you were so spot on. When nobody was talking about Michael Bloomberg, you came on this program, and you said, I'm expecting him to enter the race, because you didn't think anybody on that stage could truly take on Donald Trump.
But let's talk about these 31 districts that we're referring to and where the vulnerability is. These are areas that Donald Trump won in 2016, but that Democrats are running for reelection in Congress.
BANNON: Well, and these are why these are important.
Obama won these districts twice. Trump won them in '16. The Democrats then won them in -- roughly in ' 18. And these are -- and Nancy Pelosi kind of handpicked these candidates.
It's Max Rose Staten Island, I think Lieutenant Commander Mikie Sherrill up in New Jersey 11. People -- these are kind of handpicked either veterans, people who worked at the CIA, handpicked candidates. When they ran, Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats said, never mention impeachment.
Talk about health care. Talk about jobs. Talk about national security.
And now they're put into a quandary. Those 31 are really where this impeachment -- I think it's -- Nancy Pelosi is risking now her speakership by continuing to press on and even trying to have an impeachment vote, which looked inevitable.
And, still, they're so invested in this, Adam Schiff, Nancy Pelosi, and particularly the media. The inside-the-Beltway Democrats and the media are so invested. But she's going to risk her speakership, because she, I think -- there is a guy named Anthony Brindisi in Utica.
He was interviewed by local TV on Friday and said, hey, I'm neutral right now. And this is after going through a week of hearings or two weeks of hearings. So these Democrats who are absolutely essential to have independents vote for them, because these are districts that President Trump won, they are now in a quandary.
I think many of them believe that if they actually vote to it -- for the articles of impeachment later in December, they believe they could be signing their political death warrant. And so that is why these 31 are so critical.
And I think right now it's a lot of softness. I think you are going to see a lot of second-guessing and a lot of backbiting among the Democrats, as President Trump continues to say, I want more substance.
And one of the things they are looking at is a potential Senate trial, whereas, on this show three weeks ago, I said, not just Hunter Biden, but Senator Joe Biden, I think, has to go before the nation and make the case why he's not above the law.
Why did he try to bring American crony capitalism into the most corrupt nation in Europe and the third most corrupt nation in the world? And I think, as these Democrats sit there in the 31 districts and say, hey, if more details come out on Trump's side, and now Trump's on offense, it's only going to make our job tougher.
BARTIROMO: So, two things.
On the one hand, you have got Democrats who may very well vote no in an impeachment, if it, in fact, does go to the floor for the full House.
BANNON: Let's go back to unity and substance.
You have got the Republican Party -- and I have been one of the rebels in the Republican Party -- you have got the Republican Party more united than it's ever been even in the run-up to the '16 election.
You have them saying, this is unacceptable, it's unfair. This man was elected. We're not going to let this -- the -- we're not going to let the nullification project overturning the '16 election happen. Everybody's pulling together.
So you have unity . You look at Hurd, who was probably the outlier on the committee. He's basically said, hey, I am not voting for impeachment.
So you have the Republicans totally united. On the Democrat side, you have already had a member of leadership, and you had Van Drew. You have already had two vote no. And now you have got the 31. A lot of them are saying, hey, I'm neutral right now.
So I think you could have a carve-off of up to a half-a-dozen Democrats that don't vote for this, which then turns it into not just a partisan vote, but a highly partisan vote. And we have never had that on any impeachment, just a highly partisan vote to try to impeach the president.
That, to me, kicks off 2020 in a great way for the president.
BARTIROMO: And then the other thing you just said is, should this go to a trial in the Senate, then Lindsey Graham and company are going to be getting people to go down and testify.
Already, Lindsey Graham says that he wants Michael Horowitz to testify. You're saying Hunter Biden will be down there. This is going to open up a can of worms.
BANNON: I think -- listen, this is why it gets back to substance.
You're going to have on later in your show Congresswoman Stefanik. Under the very limited rules that the Republicans had, she basically was able to, I think, field-strip some of these -- some of the testimony by asking tough questions that demanded simple answers.
If you think you go to a trial, where you have actually got Donald Trump able to -- and he calls it an affirmative defense, an affirmative defense. And you know, when Trump goes on offense, it's tough.
And I think you're going to see guys called and witnesses brought up that are going to just blow the Democrats out, including I think there will be a huge effort to have Joe Biden come before the Senate and actually give testimony of why, as vice president -- forget running for president -- why, as vice president, he allowed American crony capitalism, which everybody's been fighting, to actually get involved in, in this corrupt situation in Ukraine.
And I think it was one of the reasons that you had this young Zelensky president, the stand-up comic, who ran as an anti-corruption, one of the reasons I think he was elected is because of the things like what Joe Biden did.
And I think he's going to have to answer for that. And if you ask these Democrats in 31 districts, they don't want any more of that. They have seen enough.
BARTIROMO: And, by the way, when we're talking about the Democrats, who are now explaining to their constituents what they have been doing for the last two months, they're also going to have to explain why nothing got done.
In a few minutes, we're going to speak with the White House trade adviser, Peter Navarro. And he basically puts a list together of what he's calling the opportunity costs and all the things that have been left on the cutting room floor in terms of what they did not get done.
BANNON: On "FOX & Friends" on Friday, President Trump talks about this.
He talks about the opportunity costs. He talks about particularly USMCA. People -- it's Democrat economists who are saying this could add up to 1 percent potentially to GDP over time.
BANNON: That is manufacturing jobs for working-class people, many of whom are Democrats.
And so that's where they're going to have to explain. Hey, we have basically put the country into a constitutional crisis...
BANNON: ... over the holiday season. We're not doing prescription drugs. We are not passing USMCA. We're just focused on this.
BARTIROMO: We want to get to Devin Nunes in a few minutes, because he was right there in the room. He's the ranking member of the Intel Committee. He's going to be with us in a second.
But let's take a break, because, when we come back, I got to get your take on Michael Bloomberg. You called it. He is now in the race officially. Does he have a shot to take down President Trump?
More with Steve Bannon after this break. Stay with us.
BARTIROMO: Welcome back.
And we're back with former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon. He is also hosting a nationally syndicated radio show, "War Room: Impeachment," every day.
Steve, let me talk to you about Bloomberg, because you came on this program, not just weeks ago, but months ago.
BARTIROMO: And you said, yes, Michael Bloomberg will likely enter the race, because you didn't think anybody on that stage could beat Trump.
And you think that the Democrats know that. Your reaction to Michael Bloomberg now officially entering this race?
BANNON: Well, listen -- but, look, people should understand one of the reasons that President Trump is being impeached is losing the House of Representatives.
Michael Bloomberg was central to that. He put $100 million in '18 particularly to take the House back. Michael Bloomberg knows how to apply capital to politics. So people should understand, he's been working on this for a while.
He put the $100 million in an '18. It had a big -- a big impact. He's already committed, where the Democratic Party's had a tough time raising money, because the candidates are so weak against Trump.
Bloomberg has committed $31 million. Now, I know this is to push his candidacy, but it's also going to go into some of these districts. You -- Bloomberg has got this apparatus. I think it's Everytown USA, the anti-gun.
It's, I think, actually on a grassroots basis, and from a practical basis, a stronger apparatus than the Democratic Party. Michael Bloomberg has been putting these chess pieces in place, knowing how to apply capital, knowing where the pressure points are in these districts, knowing how you have to have a grassroots apparatus.
They shouldn't discount him. And I say, when you look on that stage -- and people should understand, the ratings for the hearings dropped every day, as middle-class Americans tuned out, right? The ratings for the Democratic primary are also dropping.
And it's not just about no star power. They're not really, to me, having a serious conversation. It's a group hug up there.
BANNON: You don't see any tension. You don't see any drama. You don't see people taking each other on.
That's why Joe Biden's been able to go so far. There's no Democrats up there calling him out on China, calling him out on Ukraine, calling him out on what happened in the South China Sea, calling him out on supporting all these globalist trade issues.
That's why I think someone like a Bloomberg was inevitable, a centrist. As Joe -- as the air comes out of Joe Biden, and people don't believe that Mayor Pete, a mayor -- a mayor of a small town in the Midwest, can really compete against Donald Trump, the centrists are going to have a vote.
And I think their vote is going to be -- now that Bloomberg is in. The worst case he will do is make these Democrats, I think, tougher. I think he's going to force a real conversation on the economy. And all this crazy, far left stuff they have been talking about, Bloomberg is going to challenge that, because whatever you say about his lack of personality, all of that, he's a very successful businessman and a very savvy person applying capital.
BARTIROMO: So, two things, I mean, applying capital.
The $100 million that he gave the House last year, he was successful. The House won the majority.
BARTIROMO: If he's in the race, he's not going to be able to give $100 million to the House. Maybe this is a positive for the GOP in that regard.
BANNON: Well, look, I don't know. Look, he's got, what -- he's worth $28, $30, $50 billion.
BARTIROMO: Yes. That's true.
BANNON: And I think he's told people around him he's committed to put $2.5 billion, $3 billion into this race. That's a significant amount of money. And he knows how to apply it smartly.
Look, the only person right now that can beat Donald Trump is Donald Trump. There's not a -- there's not another personality out there that matches up with him one-on-one.
Also, Michael Bloomberg, I don't think, also matches up with him at all. But I think, in changing the dynamics of the race on the Democrats, it will definitely change the dynamic.
BARTIROMO: Will Michael Bloomberg be able to resonate? And look what happened to the other so-called centrists that tried to enter this race.
They didn't pass go. Look at Howard Schultz right now. Look at Tim Ryan from Ohio. The Democratic Party didn't want a centrist. Will they give him carte blanche to keep going? And will he resonate in places like Wisconsin, not New York?
BANNON: Here's where they never give Trump credit.
Trump doesn't speak in a political vernacular. Even the people on the Democratic that are trying to run as populists, they still talk in political-speak.
Donald Trump talks in a very hard, tough -- in tough times, he's a tough guy. But he talks in a very straightforward vernacular that cuts through all the nonsense. And it hits the middle class and the working class exactly where they live.
And that's why they resonate with him. Bloomberg doesn't -- certainly doesn't have that, everybody knows. It's not just the lack of charisma. It's how you actually communicate as a mass communication. No one in the Democratic Party has that today.
That's what I'm saying. There's no one there that can actually beat Trump. What I do think Bloomberg does is reorient this campaign that now the centrists are going to have a say-so. And Bloomberg is very sophisticated on policy.
And it makes a lot of difference if you don't have to go out and fund-raise, but if you can put billions of dollars to work in this campaign.
BANNON: And he's going to call -- I think he's going to have a lot of chits.
I think a lot of these congressmen -- the Democratic Party's having a very difficult time raising money against Trump.
BANNON: And I think Bloomberg's money is going to call. He's going to have a lot of markers.
BARTIROMO: All right, the next couple of weeks are going to be critical. Not only are you going to have articles of impeachment, because now it's going to Judiciary, then to the Senate, but you're also going to have the I.G. report coming out.
What's your take on the whole operation to frame Donald Trump in 2016 and what we're going to learn from this criminal investigation from John Durham and the I.G. report?
BANNON: Well, we don't know if we're going to get to Durham soon, though, but I will tell you about the I.G. report.
Here's how afraid they are of it. The I.G. report is not scheduled to come out until December -- Monday, December 9. They're already leaking this to The Washington Post and The New York Times" to...
BARTIROMO: Yes, look at these headlines.
BANNON: To get ahead of it.
BARTIROMO: Here's a headline from The New York Times: "Russia inquiry review said to criticize FBI, but rebuff claims of bias acts."
BANNON: That's how nervous they are.
When they're leaking a report 2.5 and three weeks in advance, and to try to get ahead of the story, oh, nothing to see here, let's move on, it's just some lower-level functionaries, that's not going to wash.
What Donald Trump has said from the beginning -- and you are particularly talking about FISA and FISA courts.
BANNON: Those courts were set up -- these secret courts were set up really essentially about the war on terror.
They are supposed to be at the most pristine level. And to understand -- and it's not going to wash. Comey -- and McCabe's a contributor on CNN.
It is not going to wash, that, institutionally -- OK, this was a lawyer at the FBI -- that they were able to tamper with documents and with evidence that go to a FISA court.
BANNON: It's outrageous.
And I don't care how much they leak now to say, oh, it's nothing to see here and nothing to do at the top. There's going to have to be a full, total investigation...
BANNON: ... I think, by the Senate, is going to have to have something like the commission they had back in the '70s to review the FBI and the CIA and what their involvement has been in domestic politics.
And Lindsey Graham is among those investigating it. And he was on this program the other day, saying it's dead on arrival, this impeachment, if we do not interview the whistle-blower.
You knew the whistle-blower when you were in the White House.
BANNON: Well, listen, it was a -- here's the thing.
There were a number of -- the NSC had gotten so big. There were over 450 billets, they were so big.
BANNON: That we -- what we wanted to do was to make sure that the Obama detailees were removed out of the White House.
BARTIROMO: You wanted them out.
BANNON: We wanted them out.
And I think we would have avoided a lot of the problems we got today if they had been sent back to their -- to their agencies.