Trump distances himself from Bannon after arrest, calls private wall efforts ‘inappropriate’

Speaking with reporters during a visit with Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi, Trump said he wasn’t aware of Bannon’s dealings and that he hadn’t been in contact with him for a long time. Bannon was ousted from the White House in 2017.

“It’s a very sad thing by Mr. Bannon… I didn’t like that project. I thought it was a project being done for showboating reasons,” Trump said “I didn’t want a wall that was going to be an inferior wall.”

“It was something I very much felt was inappropriate to be doing,” Trump said

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Trump has long felt that a wall on the southern border should be a government project. She pointed to a tweet last month where the president wrote, “It was only done to make me look bad, and perhsps [sic] it now doesn’t even work.”

“President Trump has always felt the Wall must be a government project and that it is far too big and complex to be handled privately,” McEnany said in a statement Thursday. “President Trump has not been involved with Steve Bannon since the campaign and the early part of the Administration, and he does not know the people involved with this project.”

But Trump hasn’t always been so sour on the project. The New York Times reported last summer that the president gave the group his “blessing,” according to former Kansas gubernatorial candidate Kris Kobach, who sits on the board of “We Build the Wall.”

Trump’s son, Donald Trump, Jr., praised the private border wall effort last summer, saying the group “is what capitalism is all about.”

“This is private enterprise at its finest,” he said in 2019, according to the El Paso Times.

Bannon has become an almost cultural figure, synonymous with the machinations of the Trump phenomenon. He has worked to bolster far-right campaigns around the world, including in Hungary and France. His cultural footprint even got him a portrayal as a Svengali-like Grim Reaper in an episode of Saturday Night Live early in the Trump presidency.

Bannon has been a vocal critic of the Republican establishment since his ouster, working to support unconventional right-wing candidates. He stood by failed Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore, even after Moore was accused of sexually assaulting teenage girls.