Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Since joining the White House, Bannon, who serves as President Donald Trump's chief strategist and senior counselor, has spoken to two of the top editors at the outlet he used to chair. (Photo: Gage Skidmore/flickr/cc)

Bannon May Have Violated Ethics Pledge by Talking to Breitbart: CREW

Watchdog group demands senior Trump adviser be investigated after evidence emerges he spoke with editors at his former media company

Nadia Prupis

Top presidential adviser Steve Bannon may have violated a White House ethics pledge by communicating about official matters with employees of his former media company, the rightwing site Breitbart News, according to a Washington, D.C., watchdog group.

Since joining the White House, Bannon, who serves as President Donald Trump's chief strategist and senior counselor, has spoken to two of the top editors at the outlet he used to chair, the group Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington (CREW) said in a complaint filed Thursday.

The White House confirmed this week that it had not waived portions of the ethics pledge for Bannon.

"It seems to me to be a very clear violation," CREW board member and former presidential ethics lawyer Richard Painter told the Daily Beast on Thursday.

The watchdog group explained in a statement that as part of the ethics pledge, which was created by Trump's executive order,

Bannon promised not to participate in certain matters related to his former employers for two years after being appointed. These prohibited matters include "any meeting or other communication relating to the performance of one's official duties." Since taking the White House job, Bannon apparently repeatedly engaged in communications with Breitbart's editor-in-chief Alex Marlow and Washington editor Matthew Boyle, often about Breitbart's coverage of the Trump White House.

Boyle and Marlow both recently confirmed that they have had contact with Bannon.

CREW sent a request for investigation to White House counsel Donald McGahn—at least the fourth it has sent in the two months Trump has been in office, along with calls to look into ethics issues with presidential advisers Kellyanne Conway and Chris Liddell, as well as potential violations of the Federal Advisory Committee Act.

"The purpose of the ethics pledge is to ensure government officials have no conflict of interest between their current and former employers," CREW executive director Noah Bookbinder said. "If Bannon discussed White House matters with Breitbart, tried to drive favorable coverage of the White House with his former employer, and gave Breitbart favored access, that would be a serious problem and may have violated the ethics pledge he took when he joined the administration."

CREW board chair and former presidential ethics lawyer Norman Eisen said, "This is only the latest of the many questions that have been raised about ethics pledge compliance issues in the Trump administration. This matter is particularly significant because of Mr. Bannon's prominent role, and that of Breitbart, in connection with the president. It deserves the closest scrutiny."

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

'Win for Wildlife' as Federal Court Restores Endangered Species Protections Gutted by Trump

"In the midst of a global extinction crisis, the court's decision to vacate the rules will help ensure that imperiled species receive the protections they desperately need," said one advocate.

Julia Conley ·

Senate Urged to Block Biden's Pro-Privatization Nominee for Social Security Board

"The Senate can, and must, block this terrible nomination," Social Security Works said of the administration's choice of Andrew Biggs.

Jake Johnson ·

GOP Senator Defends Guantánamo Bay Prison as 'Absolutely Vital Institution'

Sen. James Inhofe's comments come as congressional Democrats are reviving efforts to close the notorious U.S. military prison.

Brett Wilkins ·

Doctor Describes Gruesome 'Wartime Injuries' at Highland Park Shooting

"The people who were killed were killed instantly," said Dr. David Baum, who ran towards the victims after gunfire rang out at a July 4th parade.

Julia Conley ·

Jayapal Warns GOP Will Enact Federal Abortion Ban If It Retakes Congress

"We can't give them that chance," said the chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. "We must elect a REAL pro-choice majority in the Senate."

Kenny Stancil ·

Common Dreams Logo