“I have power. I can actually drive things in a certain direction.”

Developments on Day 336 of the Trump Administration:

Former White House Chief Strategist Thinks of Succeeding Trump

A lengthy profile of Steve Bannon — executive director of the hard-right attack site Breitbart and former White House chief strategist — describes how he is thinking of himself as a successor to Donald Trump:

In October, Bannon called an advisor and said he would consider running for president if Trump doesn’t run for re-election in 2020. Which Bannon has told people is a realistic possibility: in private conversations since leaving the White House, Bannon said Trump only has a 30% chance of serving out his term, whether he’s impeached or removed by the Cabinet invoking the 25th amendment….

Bannon has also remarked on the toll the office has taken on Trump, telling advisers his former boss has “lost a step.” “He’s like an 11-year-old child,” Bannon joked to a friend in November.

The Vanity Fair profile, based on interviews with Bannon this autumn and on other sources close to the strategist, confirms his recruitment of “insurgents” to challenge Republican incumbents in Congressional races next year. Bannon is also maintaining a high profile with a series of de facto campaign rallies across the US.

In August, immediately after his dismissal from the White House, Bannon declared “#WAR” on the Republican “establishment”. The battle — and Bannon’s ambition — play out in the article:

Since Bannon left the West Wing, he’s had five phone calls with Trump, most initiated by the President, according to the White House official. “The few conversations Steve and the president have had since he was fired this summer have primarily been opportunities for Steve to beg for his job back,” said the White House official. A Bannon spokesperson countered, “anyone around Steve since he left the White House can see he is very happy now out of the White House!”

The profile was completed before the loss of Bannon-backed candidate Roy Moore in the Alabama Senate special election, a defeat which the strategist’s rivals — including within the Republican Party — have portrayed as a warning about the folly of his insurgency.

But Bannon is likely to be unfazed. He told his interviewer, “I have power. I can actually drive things in a certain direction.”

And his response to criticism? “I don’t give a fuck. You can call me anything you want. Do you think I give a shit? I literally don’t care.”

700+ Staff Leave EPA Since January

More than 700 people have left the Environmental Protection Agency since Donald Trump took office.

More than 200 of the departed are scientists and another 96 are environmental protection specialists, which includes scientists and other personnel experienced in investigating and analyzing pollution levels. Nine department directors have departed the agency, and dozens of attorneys and program managers are gone.

Most of the employees who have left are not being replaced.

The EPA has been beset by poor morale as Trump put Scott Pruitt, the Oklahoma Attorney who pursued dozens of cases against the EPA as Attorney General, in charge. Industry executives have been put in senior posts. Words like “climate change” have been banned from EPA site, and a consultancy hired by the agency spent its time investigating staff over their positions on Trump.

The EPA had already lost staff under the Obama Administration, because of budget cuts pushed through by Republicans in Congress, leaving about 15,000 personnel; however, the departures have sharply accelerated this year.