Former Breitbart Spokesperson Kurt Bardella told CNN host John Berman that a March 13 Breitbart exclusive detailing leaked audio of House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) stating, “I am not going to defend Donald Trump—not now, not in the future” is merely the “continuation of a long campaign” created by Steve Bannon to take down Paul Ryan, whom he perceived to be “the enemy.” Breitbart, the pro-Trump outlet Bannon helmed before joining Trump's administration, has spent years laying the groundwork for Trump's war on Ryan, including accusing Ryan of trying to get Hillary Clinton elected, calling Ryan a “saboteur” for his disagreement with Trump over the Muslim ban, and stating that he should be “disqualified from Congress” for his views on immigration. From the March 14 edition of CNN Newsroom With John Berman And Poppy Harlow:
JOHN BERMAN (CO-HOST): The big news, the big question is, why now? Why is Breitbart posting this now? Joining me now is Kurt Bardella, founder and CEO of Endeavor Strategies and a former spokesman for Breitbart. Kurt, thanks so much for joining us. It is a simple question. Why is Breitbart posting this video highlighting a split between Speaker Ryan and the president? Why are they posting it now?
KURT BARDELLA: Well, I think that what you're seeing is a continuation of a long campaign that started at Breitbart before President Trump was elected, which was an objective that Steve Bannon -- now chief strategist for the president, then running Breitbart -- made it very clear that he perceived Paul Ryan to be the enemy, that their objective was to take him down. It was around the same time that this audio happened, Breitbart published a story alleging that Paul Ryan was working with Hillary Clinton to get her elected. So, what you're seeing now is a continuation of that with (that with) the -- I think the purpose of setting up Paul Ryan to be the fall guy for when this health care plan fails.
BERMAN: Paul Ryan to be the fall guy for when this health care plan fails. Again, that's what people were looking at last night after the CBO report came out, Breitbart posted this video. You're saying it's to maybe set Paul Ryan up for something. Then the next logical question Kurt is, Steve Bannon. Until a few months ago, he was running Breitbart. You worked closely with him. Are we really to believe that Steve Bannon has no more connections to what Breitbart is posting?
BARDELLA: I don't think that there's any question that Steve has significant influence on the editorial direction of Breitbart. And look at some of the hires that he's made in the White House. He brought over Julia Hahn, who wrote the story back in October alleging that Paul Ryan was working with Hillary Clinton to get her elected and undermine President Trump. So, I think there's a direct line between -- editorially -- what you see at Breitbart and what really are the political ambitions of Steve Bannon. And again, this is just a continuation of that. It's designed to set up the speaker.
BERMAN: So again, so basically if you're following all of this and connecting the dots, you're suggesting that Steve Bannon, as of last night, was trying to set up House Speaker Paul Ryan to be the fall guy if Obamacare doesn't -- or the repeal of Obamacare doesn't pass?
BARDELLA: Right. And, when you look at the story that they published, there's a lot of editorializing on the front end of it using quotes from people like Senator Rand Paul alleging that somehow Speaker Ryan has misled the president about his ability to get this bill passed. There's a lot of undertones in this story beyond just the audio that they use to really paint the idea that this will fall on Paul Ryan's lap and if it doesn't succeed, it's Paul Ryan's fault.