President Donald Trump is "doing a fantastic job," former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon said Friday, and the president will shut down the federal government this fall if Congress does not include full funding for the wall on the southern U.S. border with Mexico.
"The wall is not just totemic," Bannon, 64, whom Trump fired from his staff last August, told Fareed Zakaria in a CNN interview. "It's central to his program.
"I believe that what he is going to do is as we come up on Sept. 30, if that appropriations bill does not include spending to fully build his wall — not some $1.6 billion for prototypes, I mean to build the southern wall — I believe he will shut down the government.
"The government will shut down in the run-up to the election," Bannon said.
Congress has yet to submit a budget to President Trump for the upcoming fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1.
In March, Trump signed a $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill "as a matter of national security" that only included the $1.6 billion already allocated for the border wall project.
Bannon told Zakaria in the wide-ranging interview that he was pleased with Trump's actions on various fronts, that he was wrong to consistently slam Attorney General Jeff Sessions and that "Trump is on the ballot in every district" in the congressional elections.
"He is Donald Trump," said Bannon. "Look, every day is different.
"You got to swing with it."
When asked whether Trump sought out his advice, Bannon responded: "Trust me, he does not do that.
"Every action he is taking, I am really happy with."
But he is not pleased with Trump badgering Sessions since he recused himself from Russia special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation last year.
"The president is wrong," Bannon told Zakaria. "He has been wrong from the beginning, if I can respectfully disagree with the president of the United States.
"If you look at what Jeff Sessions has done on immigration, migration and all the key issues of the Justice Department, Sessions is personally doing an excellent job."
Turning to the mid-terms, Bannon said that they will be a referendum on President Trump — and the key issue is immigration.
"What we have to limit is the unfair competition," he told Zakaria. "The working-class blacks and Hispanics have been hit more than any other segment of our country.
"These are some of the best patriots. They're in the U.S. Army, the rifle platoons in the Marine Corps.
"Working-class blacks and Hispanics have been eviscerated from the unlimited competition from foreign labor," Bannon said. "That has to stop.
"This is going to be an up or down vote on Nov. 6. This is about impeachment.
"You're either with Nancy Pelosi or with Donald Trump.
"Remember, the Democrats have questioned his legitimacy from the beginning," he continued. "Trump's second presidential race will be on Nov. 6.
"He is on the ballot. Up or down vote. Do you back Trump's program, with all the good and bad? Do you back his program or back removing him?
"Because that's what Pelosi and [top Democratic donor] Tom Steyer and these guys want.
"This is not some Democratic congressman versus a Republican congressman," Bannon added. "This is Donald Trump versus Nancy Pelosi."
In addition, the former chief strategist said that the populist movement that brought Trump's election has a stronger grip on Europe, particularly in Italy, where law professor and political neophyte Giuseppe Conte was sworn in Friday as the head of Italy's populist government.
"Europe is basically a year ahead of the United States," he said.
"You're seeing, now, pieces being put together where you see populist nationalist movements with reform — with people saying: 'Hey it's the permanent political class. What we have to do is get rid of politics. Get involved citizens.'
"That's I think the power you see here," Bannon added. "You could begin to see the elements of Bernie Sanders coupled with the Trump movement that really becomes a dominant political force in American politics."
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