Reince Priebus told Donald Trump in the days following the October 2016 release of embarrassing audio from a 2005 Access Hollywood taping that he would lose the presidential election by a wide margin if he didn’t quit.
The infamous audio, in which Trump is heard bragging that famous men can get away with groping women – ‘Grab ’em by the p***y – you can do anything’ – marked the low point in Trump’s campaign.
The then-chairman of the Republican National Committee and future White House chief of staff gave Candidate Trump his politically shortsighted advice in an all-hands-on-deck campaign meeting, according to Steve Bannon.
Bannon told ’60 Minutes’ in an interview on Wednesday that Trump ‘went around the room and asked people the percentages he thought of – of still winning, and what the recommendation [was].’
‘And Reince started off and Reince said, “You have – you have two choices. You either drop out right now, or you lose by the biggest landslide in American political history”.’
Former White House chief of staff Reince Priebus told Donald Trump weeks before the 2016 presidential election that he had no chance of winning, following the release of 2005 ‘Access Hollywood’ hot-mic audio in which Trump was heard boasting about groping women
Trump never let Priebus forget that he had lost faith in him, badgering him about it until ultimately cutting him loose from the White House
In the infamous 2005 audio, Trump is heard telling ‘Access Hollywood’ host Billy Bush that women let famous men touch them inappropriately: ‘When you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab ’em by the p***y – you can do anything’
Trump never forgot that comment, and never forgave it. White House staff called it Priebus’s ‘Scarlet A.H.’ moment, using the initials for ‘Access Hollywood.’
In the days after the president fired Priebus, story after story emerged from the West Wing recounting how Trump held it over his head, reminding the ‘weak, weak, weak’ manager that he had lost faith when the chips were down.
Bannon, another White House castoff, claimed in his ’60 Minutes’ sitdown with co-host Charlie Rose that his own view at the time of the campaign’s Access Hollywood crisis was far rosier.
‘I was the last guy to speak,’ he recalled of the meeting where Priebus told Trump he was sunk.
‘And I said, “It’s 100 percent. You have 100 percent probability of winning”.’
The new account of Priebus’s politically shortsighted and career-killing prediction of a massive Trump loss comes from Steve Bannon – another White House castoff – who spoke with ’60 Minutes’
When Trump told him he couldn’t be serious, Bannon said, he insisted American voters ‘don’t care’ about what amounted to vulgar teenage ranting from a then-59-year-old man.
Trump ultimately offered a mea culpa as part of a strategy to save his White House hopes.
‘Anyone who knows me knows these words don’t reflect who I am,’ he said in a brief videotaped statement. ‘I said it, I was wrong, and I apologize.’
Trump had already dismissed the tape, first published by the Washington Post following a leak by a TV producer, as ‘locker room talk’ during a presidential debate against Hillary Clinton that came the day after its release.
In the horrifying hot-mic audio, he can be heard telling ‘Access Hollywood’ host Billy Bush: ‘You know, I’m automatically attracted to beautiful [women] — I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait.’
‘And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab ’em by the p***y – you can do anything.’
In this week’s ’60 Minutes’ interview, Rose emphasized that voters were indeed bothered.
‘They do care about respect for women,’ he told Bannon. ‘And it’s not just locker room talk.’
‘That’s locker room talk,’ Bannon shot back. ‘The Billy Bush thing is locker room talk.’
‘People didn’t care,’ he insisted.
‘They knew Donald Trump was just doing locker room talk with a guy. And they dismissed it. It had no lasting impact on the campaign. Yet if you see the mainstream media that day, it was – literally – he was falling into Dante’s Inferno.’
Bannon also said New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie lost his chance to become part of the president’s cabinet by failing to support Trump as the ‘p***ygate’ crisis unfolded.
‘Christie, because of “Billy Bush weekend” … was not looked at for a cabinet position,’ he said.
‘I told him, “The plane leaves at 11 o’clock in the morning. If you’re on the plane, you’re on the team”.’
‘[He] didn’t make the plane.’