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Steve Bannon
Steve Bannon 2023 by Gage Skidmore.jpg
Bannon in July 2023
Senior Counselor to the President
In office
January 20, 2017 – August 18, 2017
Serving with Kellyanne Conway
President Donald Trump
Preceded by John Podesta
(as Counselor, 2015)
Succeeded by Kellyanne Conway
White House Chief Strategist
In office
January 20, 2017 – August 18, 2017
President Donald Trump
Preceded by Office established
Succeeded by Office abolished
Personal details
Stephen Kevin Bannon

(1953-11-27) November 27, 1953 (age 70)
Norfolk, Virginia, U.S.
Political party Republican
  • Cathleen Houff Jordan
    (div. 1988)
  • Mary Piccard
    (m. 1995; div. 1997)
  • Diane Clohesy
    (m. 2006; div. 2009)
Children 3
Education Virginia Tech (BA)
Georgetown University (MA)
Harvard University (MBA)
Military service
Branch/service United States Navy
Years of service 1976–1983
Rank Lieutenant

Stephen Kevin Bannon (born November 27, 1953) is an American media executive, political strategist, and former investment banker. He served as the White House's chief strategist in the administration of U.S. president Donald Trump during the first seven months of Trump's term. He is a former executive chairman of Breitbart News and previously served on the board of the now-defunct data-analytics firm Cambridge Analytica.

Bannon refused to comply with a subpoena issued by the Select Committee on the January 6 Attack, the U.S. House of Representatives committee investigating the 2021 United States Capitol attack. He was subsequently indicted by a federal grand jury on two criminal charges of contempt of Congress. In July 2022, he was convicted on both counts in a jury trial. He was sentenced in October 2022 to four months in prison and a $6,500 fine. After losing his appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, Bannon surrendered to a federal prison in Connecticut on July 1, 2024.

Early life

Stephen Kevin Bannon was born November 27, 1953, in Norfolk, Virginia, to Doris (née Herr), a homemaker, and Martin J. Bannon Jr., who worked as an AT&T telephone lineman and as a middle manager. He grew up in a working-class family that was pro-Kennedy and pro-union Democrat. He is of Irish and German descent. Much of his mother's side of the family settled in the Baltimore area. Bannon graduated from Benedictine College Preparatory, a private, Catholic, military high school in Richmond, Virginia, in 1971, and then attended Virginia Tech, where he served as the president of the student government association. During the summers he worked at a local junkyard.

In 1976 he graduated from Virginia Tech College of Architecture and Urban Studies with a bachelor's degree in urban planning. While serving in the navy, he earned a master's degree in national security studies in 1983 from Georgetown University School of Foreign Service. In 1985, Bannon earned a Master of Business Administration degree with honors from Harvard Business School.

Service as naval officer

Bannon was an officer in the United States Navy for seven years in the late 1970s and early 1980s; he served on the destroyer USS Paul F. Foster as a surface warfare officer in the Pacific Fleet, and afterwards as a special assistant to the chief of naval operations at the Pentagon. Bannon's job at the Pentagon was, among other things, handling messages between senior officers and writing reports about the state of the Navy fleet worldwide. While at the Pentagon, Bannon attended Georgetown University at night and obtained his master's degree in national security studies.

In 1980, Bannon was deployed to the Persian Gulf to assist with Operation Eagle Claw during the Iran hostage crisis. In a 2015 interview, Bannon said that the mission's failure marked a turning point in his political world-view from largely apolitical to strongly Reaganite, which was further reinforced by the September 11 attacks.

Business career

Investment banking

After his military service, Bannon worked at Goldman Sachs as an investment banker in the Mergers and Acquisitions Department. In 1987, he relocated from New York to Los Angeles, to assist Goldman in expanding their presence in the entertainment industry. He stayed at this position with Goldman in Los Angeles for two years, and left with the title of vice president.

Pivot in career into media and investing

In 1990, Bannon and several colleagues from Goldman Sachs launched their own company Bannon & Co., a boutique investment bank specializing in media. In one of Bannon & Co.'s transactions, the firm represented Westinghouse Electric which wanted to sell Castle Rock Entertainment. Bannon negotiated a sale of Castle Rock to Turner Broadcasting System, which was owned by Ted Turner at the time. Instead of a full adviser's fee, Bannon & Co. accepted a financial stake in five television shows, including Seinfeld, which was in its third season. Bannon still receives cash residuals each time Seinfeld is aired.

Société Générale purchased Bannon & Co. in 1998.

Earth science

In 1993, while still managing Bannon & Co., Bannon became acting director of the earth science research project Biosphere 2 in Oracle, Arizona. Under Bannon, the closed-system experiment project shifted emphasis from researching human space exploration and colonization toward the scientific study of earth's environment, pollution, and climate change. He left the project in 1995.

Entertainment and media

Steve Bannon 2010
Bannon in 2010

In the 1990s, Bannon ventured into entertainment and media, and became an executive producer in the Hollywood film and media industry. Bannon produced 18 films, from Sean Penn's drama The Indian Runner (1991) to Julie Taymor's film Titus (1999). Bannon became a partner with entertainment industry executive Jeff Kwatinetz at film and television management company The Firm, Inc., 2002–2003.

In 2004, Bannon made a documentary about Ronald Reagan titled In the Face of Evil. Through the making and screening of this film, Bannon was introduced to Reagan's War author Peter Schweizer and publisher Andrew Breitbart, who would later describe him as the Leni Riefenstahl of the Tea Party movement. Bannon was involved in the financing and production of a number of films, including Fire from the Heartland: The Awakening of the Conservative Woman (2010), The Undefeated (2011), and Occupy Unmasked (2012).

Bannon persuaded Goldman Sachs to invest, in 2006, in a company known as Internet Gaming Entertainment. Following a lawsuit, the company rebranded as Affinity Media, and Bannon took over as CEO. From 2007 through 2011, Bannon was the chair and CEO of Affinity Media.

In 2007, Bannon wrote an eight-page treatment for a new documentary called Destroying the Great Satan: The Rise of Islamic Facism (sic) in America. The outline states that "although driven by the 'best intentions,' institutions such as the media, the Jewish community and government agencies were appeasing jihadists aiming to create an Islamic republic." In 2011, Bannon spoke at the Liberty Restoration Foundation in Orlando, Florida, about the Economic Crisis of 2008, the Troubled Assets Relief Program, and their impact in the origins of the Tea Party movement, while also discussing his films Generation Zero (2010) and The Undefeated.

Breitbart News

Bannon was a founding member of the board of Breitbart News, a far-right news, opinion and commentary website.

In March 2012, after founder Andrew Breitbart's death, Bannon became executive chairman of Breitbart News LLC, the parent company of Breitbart News.

On January 9, 2018, Bannon stepped down as executive chairman.

Bannon hosted a radio show (Breitbart News Daily) on the SiriusXM Patriot satellite radio channel.

Government Accountability Institute

Bannon was executive chair and co-founder of the Government Accountability Institute, a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization where he helped orchestrate the publication of Breitbart News senior Editor-at-large Peter Schweizer's book Clinton Cash, from its founding in 2012 until his departure in August 2016. The organization creates fact-based indictments against politicians using the deep web, tax filings, flight logs, and foreign government documents and then forwards their findings to the media. The organization is registered as nonpartisan but it mainly investigates alleged corruption, crony capitalism, and misuse of taxpayer money within the Democratic Party. The group has spread conspiracy theories about Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden. For the years 2012 through 2015, he received between $81,000 and $100,000 each year; the organization reported that he worked an average of 30 hours per week for the organization.

Cambridge Analytica

Bannon served as vice president of the board of Cambridge Analytica, a data-analytics firm owned largely by the Mercer family, who also co-owns Breitbart News; the firm allegedly used illegal tactics to target American voters in the 2016 election. According to former Analytica employee Christopher Wylie, Bannon oversaw the collection of Facebook data which was used to target American voters. Wylie who helped with creation of the company referred to the company as a "psychological warfare tool". Bannon was paid more than $125,000 for his work at Cambride Analytica. Bannon's stake in Cambridge Analytica was estimated 1 between 5 million dollars but he sold his stake in the company once he joined the Trump administration in April 2017.

The Movement

In 2017, Bannon founded The Movement, a populist organization which frequently promotes right wing populist groups in Europe which are against the EU government and political system in Europe. The group is also known for its opposition to George Soros's Open Society Foundations, Bannon has referred to Soros as "evil but brilliant". The organization employees 10 full time staff members. Mischaël Modrikamen, the leader of the Belgian People's Party, serves as executive director. The organization has received praise from figures like Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and Italian Eurosceptic party M5S leader Luigi Di Maio.

Brief political career

Trump administration

President Donald Trump receives a briefing on a military strike
Bannon during the April 2017 Syrian missile strike operation
Donald Trump signs Executive Orders January 2017
Bannon and other advisors watching Trump sign an executive order
White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and WH Chief Strategist Steve Bannon shake hands at 2017 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC)
White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon shakes hands with WH Chief of Staff Reince Priebus at 2017 CPAC

Upon his inauguration, Trump appointed Bannon to be his chief strategist, a newly created position. The title made him a counselor to the president, nearly equivalent in authority to the chief of staff. As a staff member in the Executive Office of the President, the position did not require Senate confirmation. Breitbart News editor Julia Hahn followed Bannon to the White House, where she was appointed as Bannon's aide, as well as special assistant to President Trump.

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter in the aftermath of the 2016 election, Bannon analogized his influence with Trump to that of "Thomas Cromwell in the court of the Tudors".

Several days after Trump's inauguration, Bannon told The New York Times, "The media should be embarrassed and humiliated and keep its mouth shut and just listen for a while. I want you to quote this: the media here is the opposition party. They don't understand this country. They still do not understand why Donald Trump is the president of the United States."

Bannon, along with Stephen Miller, was involved in the creation of Executive Order 13769, which resulted in restricted U.S. travel and immigration by individuals from seven countries, suspension of the United States Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) for 120 days, and indefinite suspension of the entry of Syrians to the United States. According to The Economist, a British news magazine, Bannon and Miller "see Mr [Vladimir] Putin as a fellow nationalist and crusader against cosmopolitanism."

In February 2017, Bannon appeared on the cover of Time, on which he was labeled "the Great Manipulator". The headline used for the associated article was "Is Steve Bannon the Second Most Powerful Man in the World?", alluding to Bannon's perceived influence in the White House.

In a March 14, 2019 hearing of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Commerce Department Secretary Wilbur Ross was questioned about his conversations regarding the adding of a citizenship question to the 2020 census surveys, which he had with Bannon, who in turn had referred him to immigration hardliners Kris Kobach and Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Missouri Democratic Representative Lacy Clay accused Ross of being "complicit" regarding his efforts to weaken minority group voting rights, additionally accusing him of committing perjury with respect to those contacts. Clay called for Ross to tender his resignation, saying, "You lied to Congress. You misled the American people and you are complicit in the Trump administration's intent to suppress the growing political power of the non-white population." Ross said the change was in response to a request by the Justice Department for statistics to protect voting rights. On April 23, 2019, the United States Supreme Court heard arguments regarding appeals of rejections by three circuit courts of the proposed inclusion of the survey question.

It was reported that Bannon intentionally published stories to undermine H. R. McMaster. Bannon allegedly did this by leaking information to the alternative media, including alt-right writer Mike Cernovich. It was also reported that the Trump administration retroactively granted Bannon a blanket exemption from federal ethics rules that allowed him to communicate with editors at Breitbart News, which according to former Breitbart consultant Kurt Bardella would be proof of the administration's intent to allow him to continue being "the de facto editorial director of Breitbart" (italics added). In the final hours of Donald Trump's administration, Steve Bannon was issued a presidential pardon. The accompanying announcement said he was "an important leader in the conservative movement and is known for his political acumen."

Bannon was removed from his NSC role in early April 2017 in a reorganization by U.S. National Security Advisor H. R. McMaster, whom Bannon had helped select. Some White House officials said Bannon's main purpose in serving on the committee was as a check against former National Security Advisor Michael T. Flynn, who had resigned in February 2017 for misleading the vice president about a conversation with the Russian ambassador to the United States. Hence, with Flynn gone, Bannon was no longer needed. Bannon reportedly opposed his removal from the council and threatened to quit if President Trump went forward with it, although Republican megadonor Rebekah Mercer urged him to stay. The White House said Bannon had not attempted to leave, and Bannon said any indication that he threatened resignation was "total nonsense". Bannon only attended one NSC meeting.

Departure from the White House

Bannon's employment in the White House ended on August 18, 2017.

In an official statement, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said: "John Kelly and Steve Bannon have mutually agreed today would be Steve's last day. We are grateful for his service and wish him the best."

Republican Senate primaries

Bannon has made efforts to unseat incumbent Republican members of Congress he deemed to be insufficiently supportive of Trump's agenda. In October 2017, Bannon said he planned to sponsor primary challenges against six of the seven incumbent Republican senators in the 2018 elections. He said he had two requirements for a candidate to earn his support: they must pledge to vote against Mitch McConnell as Senate Majority Leader and to end the Senate filibuster. Bannon used his group Citizens of the American Republic to aide him in his efforts to help keep Republican control of the House of Representatives in the 2018 election. The group is a dark money organization; Bannon declined to "describe his donors or how much money the group has raised."

Bannon received credit for helping Roy Moore defeat incumbent senator Luther Strange in the September Republican primary for the 2017 special Alabama Senate election, despite Trump's having endorsed Strange.

In what had been considered a safe Republican seat, Moore lost the election on December 12, 2017. Bannon's reputation as a political strategist was subsequently questioned by Republican commentators.

Post-White House career

Work abroad

After leaving the White House, Bannon declared his intention to become "the infrastructure, globally, for the global populist movement." He toured Europe to speak at events with various far-right political parties there, in a bid to build a network of right-wing populist-nationalist parties aspiring to government. Bannon visited the Dutch Party for Freedom, the Freedom Party of Austria, the UK Conservative Party, the Swiss People's Party, the UK Independence Party, the Flemish Vlaams Belang, the Belgian People's Party,Alternative for Germany, France's National Front (now the National Rally), the Italian League, the Brothers of Italy, Hungary's Fidesz, the Sweden Democrats, the Polish Law and Justice, Spain's Vox, the Finns Party, the pan-European identitarian movement, Republika Srpska's Alliance of Independent Social Democrats, the Five Star Movement, and the Israeli Likud. Bannon believes that these movements – along with Japan's Shinzo Abe, India's Narendra Modi, Russia's Vladimir Putin, Saudi Arabia's Mohammad bin Salman, China's Xi Jinping, Turkey's Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and Trump, as well as similar leaders in Egypt, the Philippines, Poland, and South Korea – are part of a global shift towards nationalism. Bannon's attempt to build a network of far-right parties in Europe had only limited success; while he appeared at events with the French National Rally's Marine Le Pen and the Italian League's Matteo Salvini, the Sweden Democrats said that it had "no interest" in Bannon's initiative, the Flemish Vlaams Belang called it "poorly organized," and the Alternative for Germany cited divergent views among the parties. Right-wing populist parties did not achieve a surge in support in the 2019 European Parliament elections. The Atlantic cited a number of factors inhibiting Bannon's project, including differing national and ideological views among the European far right and U.S.-skeptical views held by some parties of the European extreme right.

Bannon supports the Dignitatis Humanae Institute, a right-wing Catholic organization in Italy formerly based in what was previously Trisulti Charterhouse; Bannon drafted a leadership course curriculum for the group to train conservative Catholic political activists. In 2018, Bannon announced that he planned to establish a right-wing academy on the site, with the support of Benjamin Harnwell, a British associate of Bannon's who underwrote the project and aimed to create a "gladiator school for culture warriors." However, in 2019, the group's rights to use the former monastery were revoked by the Italian government because it determined that the lessee Dignitatis Humanae Institute failed to meet several criteria to operate the monastery and failed in its obligation to pay a "concession fee" as well as maintenance and security expenses.

In August 2018, Bannon met with Eduardo Bolsonaro, the son of far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro, and served as informal advisor to the Bolsonaro campaign in the Brazilian presidential elections that year. In February 2019, the younger Bolsonaro joined Bannon's organization The Movement as its representative in South America. In March 2019, Bannon met with both Bolsonaros in Washington, D.C.

In October 2017, after leaving the White House, Bannon met exiled Chinese billionaire businessman Guo Wengui (also known as Miles Kwok), and the pair cultivated a friendship, frequently meeting in Dallas, at Guo's apartment at The Sherry-Netherland in New York, and on Guo's yacht. In 2017, Guo reportedly gave a $150,000 loan to Bannon shortly after he left the White House, and a Guo-linked company entered into a $1 million consulting contract with Bannon, beginning in August 2018. In early 2020, Bannon and Guo raised hundreds of millions of dollars in a private offering for a company called GTV Media Group. In August 2020, the Wall Street Journal reported that the fundraising for the company was under investigation of federal and state authorities.

Guo has allowed Bannon to use one of his two private jets, and during the 2018 election campaign, Bannon flew on Guo's Bombardier Global Express to events in support of Republican congressional candidates in New Mexico and Arizona. The flights were revealed in February 2020 by ProPublica. Bannon made the flights under the auspices of his dark money group, Citizens of the American Republic. Several campaign finance experts who spoke with ProPublica said the trips could violate federal campaign finance law, which prohibits foreign nationals from making contributions to candidates in U.S. political campaigns (including in-kind contributions such as payment for campaign-related travel). Guo and Bannon denied that the travel was for campaign activity; an attorney for Bannon's group stated that the trips on the private jet were to promote Bannon's film, Trump@War.

On June 3, 2020, Bannon and Guo participated in declaring a "New Federal State of China" (also called "Federal State of New China"). It was said that they would overthrow the Chinese government. In New York City, planes were seen carrying banners which said "Congratulations to Federal State of New China!".

On August 20, 2020, federal prosecutors in New York unsealed criminal charges against Stephen K. Bannon and three other men they alleged defrauded donors to a massive crowdfunding campaign that said it was raising money for construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. After Bannon's arrest, Guo Wengui hurriedly cut ties with him, stressed that he was not involved in Bannon's affairs outside their shared efforts "fighting for democracy in China", and would no longer allow Bannon to continue to serve as a member of Guo Media's board of directors.

Political ideology

Bannon is a Reaganite and has described himself as a populist.

Eötvös József Lecture - Steve Bannon
Steve Bannon on the future of Europe

Individual issues

Bannon advocates for reductions in immigration and restrictions on free trade with China and Mexico. He has referred to himself as a "proud Christian Zionist" in reference to his support of Israel. He has been described as a white nationalist, but rejects the description. He generally believes in reducing the size of the federal bureaucracy, declaring at the Conservative Political Action Conference he favored the "deconstruction of the administrative state".

Paris climate agreement

Bannon was a strong opponent of the Paris climate agreement during his time in the Trump administration, he successfully persuaded Donald Trump to withdraw from it.


Bannon favors reducing immigration, both legal and illegal immigration, to the U.S. and asserts that immigration threatens national sovereignty. Bannon has suggested that too many Silicon Valley chief executives are Asian or South Asian, and that this undermines "civic society." In a 2015 radio appearance, Bannon expressed opposition to resettling any refugees of the Syrian Civil War in the U.S. In a 2016 radio appearance, Bannon asserted that illegal immigration was "horrific" but that legal immigration was "the beating heart of this problem"; that levels of legal immigration to the U.S. were "scary"; and that legal immigrants had "kinda overwhelmed the country."

Bannon is the chairman of We Build The Wall, an organization involved in the construction of the proposed expansion of Mexico–United States barrier.

Personal life

Steve Bannon -
Bannon in 2018

Bannon has been married and divorced three times. He has three adult daughters. His first marriage was to Cathleen Suzanne Houff. Bannon and Houff had a daughter, Maureen, in 1988 and subsequently divorced.

Bannon's second marriage was to Mary Louise Piccard, a former investment banker, in April 1995. Their twin daughters were born three days after the wedding. Piccard filed for dissolution of their marriage in 1997.

Bannon's third marriage was to model Diane Clohesy; they married in 2006 and divorced in 2009.

His brother Chris Bannon is a TV producer.


Bannon has been a producer, writer, director or actor on the following films and documentaries:

Year Title Credited as Notes
1991 The Indian Runner executive producer
1999 Titus co-executive producer
2004 In the Face of Evil: Reagan's War in Word and Deed director, co-producer, writer based on the 2003 book Reagan's War by Peter Schweizer
2005 Cochise County USA: Cries from the Border executive producer
2006 Border War: The Battle Over Illegal Immigration executive producer
2007 Tradition Never Graduates: A Season Inside Notre Dame Football executive producer
2010 Generation Zero director, producer, writer based on the 1997 book The Fourth Turning by William Strauss and Neil Howe
Battle for America director, producer, writer
Fire from the Heartland: The Awakening of the Conservative Woman director, producer, writer
2011 Still Point in a Turning World: Ronald Reagan and His Ranch director, writer
The Undefeated director, producer, writer documentary on Sarah Palin
2012 Occupy Unmasked director, writer
The Hope & The Change director, producer, writer documentary on former Barack Obama supporters
District of Corruption director, producer
2013 Sweetwater executive producer
2016 Clinton Cash producer, writer based on the same-titled Peter Schweizer book Clinton Cash
Torchbearer director, producer, writer features Duck Dynasty patriarch Phil Robertson
2018 Trump @War director, writer Starring Corey Lewandowski, Pete Hegseth, Sebastian Gorka, Raheem Kassam, Sonnie Johnson, Raynard Jackson, Alfredo Ortiz, Sasha Gong, Erik Prince, Joe Concha, Lian Chao Han, Bill Gertz, Michael Caputo, Rob Wasinger, John Zmirak
2019 American Dharma actor
2019 Claws of the Red Dragon executive producer
2019 The Brink actor

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Steve Bannon para niños

  • Mueller Report
  • Russian interference in the 2016 Brexit referendum
  • Timeline of Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections
  • Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections
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