President Trump’s former adviser Steven Bannon once owned a stake in scandal-ridden Cambridge Analytica
By Emilie Plesset
Former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon’s name resurfaced in American politics recently after reports that Special Counsel Robert Mueller requested that Cambridge Analytica, a data company used by the Trump campaign, turn over internal documents as part of the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
Chris Wylie, Cambridge Analytica’s former research director, told The Washington Post that Bannon, a former vice president at the data company, managed the company’s early 2014 efforts to build profiles of millions of American voters by collecting data from Facebook. As the Trump campaign’s chief executive officer he reportedly reinforced the decision to have Cambridge Analytica work for the campaign. Bannon sold his stake in the controversial data company in April to comply with government ethics requirements, but only reported the sale three months after he left the White House and was fined for the late notice.
While the 64-year-old has seemingly turned away from American politics since his public downfall from Breitbart News and the Trump administration in January, the controversial former White House staffer and Breitbart executive chairman has recently focused his attention on Europe.
After being shunned by his American allies in January over negative comments he made about the Trump administration in Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury, Bannon reemerged this month to tour Europe, connect with international populist leaders, and try to become “the infrastructure, globally, for the global populist movement,” he told The New York Times.
Bannon first flew to Italy to throw his support behind the country’s populist parties before Italy’s elections earlier this month. While France and Germany were able to beat back populist movements in their most recent elections, Italy saw far-right populist parties win about half of the votes, The Washington Post reported, with the Euroskeptic anti-establishment Five Star Movement becoming the country’s largest party.
Bannon then flew to Switzerland at the invitation of the weekly Swiss magazine Die Weltwoche, whose editor in chief is conservative Member of Parliament Roger Koeppel, to give a sold out speech on Europe’s growing populist movement at a nationalist rally in Zurich. While there he also reportedly met with Alice Weidel, a leader in Germany’s far-right party, Alternative for Germany.
In France, his third stop, Bannon met with far-right National Front leader Marine Le Pen.
He gave a keynote speech to a party congress of the National Front, encouraging the cheering crowd to "let them call you racists. Let them call you xenophobes. Let them call you nativists. Wear it as a badge of honor. Because every day, we get stronger and they get weaker," NPR reported.
The New York Times reported that Bannon might also meet with Hungary’s right-wing Prime Minister Viktor Orban whose actions are, according to the paper, “seen as part of a broader decline of democracy in the world.” While Bannon did not confirm whether the meeting would take place, he reportedly called Orban a “hero” and “the most significant guy on the scene right now.”
Bannon, who told The New York Times that he was paying for his Europe trip, said in the future he wants to start a new far-right media site like Breitbart, but with a focus on European politics.
“They see what Breitbart did and they want it in their own language,” he said. “That’s the key. Right now my sites are in English, they want one in their own language.”