Breitbart executive chairman Steve Bannon has officially declared his war against the Republican Party establishment — but still wants to help President Donald Trump pass his tax reform plan.
"It's an open revolt and it should be. These people hold you in total contempt," Bannon told an audience at a fundraiser for Kelli Ward, a far-right Republican who is opposing Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona in their party's primary next year.
"When they attack a Donald Trump and Dr. Kelli Ward, it's not Donald Trump and Kelli Ward they're trying to shut up," Bannon said. "It's you they're trying to shut up."
Bannon's stemwinder for Ward is part of a larger plan to field a challenger against every Senate Republican facing reelection in 2018, except for one — Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas.
In order to fend off the threat posed by Bannon, Republicans are doubling down on their effort to pass tax reform, with Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina telling reporters on Tuesday, "If people see us delivering on health care and taxes . . . all of our guys and gals are going to win. But if we go into 2018 saying, ‘well, we just don’t have enough Republicans,’ Bannon will beat ‘em all or come close to beating ‘em."
Although Bannon did not get everything he wanted in the current tax reform bill — including a border adjustment proposal and raising the top tax rate for individuals — his adviser Andy Surabian told The Hill, "Steve’s primary goal is to actually help the president advance his agenda, which is what this whole thing is truly about."
Surabian added, "I think the effect of what Bannon is doing will result in senators being a lot more likely to vote for tax reform and vocally support the entire Trump agenda now to show that they are with the president."