From the February 1 edition of ABC's World News Tonight with David Muir:
DAVID MUIR (HOST): There is new scrutiny tonight of President Trump's chief strategist in the White House, Steve Bannon, who was given a permanent seat during National Security Council meetings. Tonight, there is controversy over Bannon's own words, and ABC's senior White House correspondent Cecilia Vega asking about those words today. Here's how the White House answered.
CECILIA VEGA: The White House today pressed about President Trump's chief strategist and his controversial views on Islam. Last year, Steve Bannon said this:
STEPHEN BANNON: It's pretty dark here in Europe right now, but there's something actually much darker. And that is Islam.
VEGA: Bannon, the former publisher of that alt-right news site, Breitbart, is now seen as one of the most powerful people in the White House. USA Today reviewed dozens of hours of Bannon on the radio, unearthing comments like this from 2015:
BANNON: To be brutally frank, I mean Christianity is dying in Europe, and Islam is on the rise. Let's talk about that.
VEGA: The White House today trying to distance the president.
VEGA (At Press Briefing): Steve Bannon can be heard on recording saying Islam is a dark religion, not a religion of peace, a religion of submission. Does the president share his chief strategist's apparent beliefs on Islam?
SEAN SPICER: No, I think the president has been very clear that his number one goal is not to target any one religion, but places, and areas where we believe that there is an issue. There is a big difference between Islam the religion and radical Islamic terrorists, that come here to do us harm.
VEGA (At Press Briefing): But nothing about this comment that the president wants to distance himself from, or even elaborate on? I mean, these are being seen as very controversial --
SPICER: I just think that I made it clear that there's a difference between the president's view.
VEGA: In a rare White House move, the president recently giving his confidant a permanent seat on the National Security Council, where he sits side by side with the secretaries of state and defense. Bannon also played a key role in crafting President Trump's extreme vetting order, that temporary ban on immigrants from seven predominantly Muslim countries. In 2015, Bannon suggesting he supported more than a temporary ban.
BANNON: Why going through all this thing on vetting? Why even let them in? The opportunity cosrt to put in a structure to actually vet these people, the cost to do that, to what end? Can't that money be used in the United States? I mean, I think the issue is should we just take a pause and a hiatus for a number of years.
MUIR: And Cecilia Vega joining us live from the White House, and tonight, Cecilia, some house Democrats now asking President Trump to remove Steve Bannon from the National Security Council, that permanent seat he has been given?
VEGA: Yeah David, they are actually demanding that, and it's right here in a letter to the president. These Democrats don't -- this letter doesn't expect to go very far or have much of an impact here at the white house, but listen to what they're demanding: they say, quote, “Mr. Bannon's lack of government experience and his extreme political agenda remains troubling.”