Republicans could lose US House in 2018 over immigration fight: Bannon

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Republican infighting over the fate of immigrants brought illegally to the United States as children could be so vitriolic that the party loses control of the U.S. House of Representatives next year, Steve Bannon, a former adviser to President Donald Trump, said in an interview airing on Sunday.

Bannon, whose far-right views on immigration, climate and trade helped shape Trump's presidential campaign and his first months in office, was fired by the Republican president last month in a push to end factional fights within the White House.

In an interview with the CBS program "60 Minutes," Bannon predicted Republicans could lose control in the House in the 2018 congressional elections because of a looming battle over what to do about 800,000 immigrants known as "Dreamers."

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White House Chief Strategist Stephen Bannon speaks with White House chief of staff Reince Priebus before Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. President Donald Trump arrive for their joint news conference at the White House in Washington, U.S., February 10, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon and White House Director of Strategic Communications Hope Hicks walk along the colonnade ahead of a joint press conference by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. President Donald Trump at the White House in Washington, U.S., February 10, 2017. REUTERS/Jim Bourg
U.S. National Security Advisor Michael Flynn (R) and Senior Counselor Steve Bannon board Air Force One at West Palm Beach International airport in West Palm Beach, Florida U.S., February 12, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
U.S. President Donald Trump's chief strategist Steve Bannon (L) and senior aide Kellyanne Conway speak at meeting hosted by Trump with cyber security experts in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington January 31, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
FILE PHOTO: Chief White House strategist Steve Bannon (L) sits with Chief of Staff Reince Priebus (C) and senior advisor Stephen Miller during a swearing-in ceremony at the White House in Washington, U.S., January 22, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
U.S. President Donald Trump (L-R), joined by Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, Vice President Mike Pence, senior advisor Steve Bannon, Communications Director Sean Spicer and National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, speaks by phone with Russia's President Vladimir Putin in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, U.S. January 28, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
U.S. President Donald Trump signs a memorandum to security services directing them to defeat the Islamic State in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, U.S. January 28, 2017. Pictured with him are White House senior advisor Steve Bannon (L-R), National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn, Vice President Mike Pence, Deputy National Security Advisor K. T. McFarland, National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, National Security Council Chief of Staff Keith Kellogg and senior advisor Kellyanne Conway. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

Steve Bannon, Chief Strategist for US President-elect Donald Trump, talks on the phone outside Trump Tower in New York on December 9, 2016.

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U.S. President-elect Donald Trump (R) and senior counselor Steve Bannon (L) hold meetings at the Mar-a-lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida, U.S. December 28, 2016.

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Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump's campaign CEO Steve Bannon is pictured backstage during a campaign event in Eau Claire, Wisconsin U.S. November 1, 2016.

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Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump's campaign CEO Steve Bannon (R) is pictured talking to a reporter after a campaign event in Phoenix, Arizona, U.S. October 29, 2016.

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Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump's campaign CEO Steve Bannon holds a campaign rally the Reno-Sparks Convention Center November 5, 2016 in Reno, Nevada. With less than a week before Election Day in the United States, Trump and his opponent, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, are campaigning in key battleground states that each must win to take the White House.

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Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump's campaign CEO Steve Bannon (C) listens to Trump speak during his final campaign rally on Election Day in the Devos Place November 8, 2016 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Trump's marathon last day of campaigning stretched past midnight and into Election Day.

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Steve Bannon gets off the plane with US President-elect Donald Trump arrives at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport in Hebron, Kentucky, for the start of the 'USA Thank You Tour' at the US Bank Arena in Cincinnati, Ohio, December 1, 2016.

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Steve Bannon, chief strategist for Donal Trump, leaves after the motorcade of US President-elect arrived at Trump Tower on December 10, 2016 in New York.

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Steve Bannon, (L) chief strategist for Donal Trump, exits Trump Tower on December 13, 2016 in New York.

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Steve Bannon, senior counselor to U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, arrives to attend meetings between Trump and business leaders at the Mar-a-lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida, U.S. December 28, 2016.

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Trump said last week he would scrap a program called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, that allowed the young immigrants to live and work in America.

Bannon supported ending the program, which had been put in place by Democratic former President Barack Obama.

Trump gave the Republican-controlled Congress six months to come up with an alternative, saying he would "revisit this issue" if lawmakers could not agree.

"I'm worried about losing the House now because of this," Bannon told CBS.

"If this goes all the way down to its logical conclusion, in February and March it will be a civil war inside the Republican Party," he said. "And to me, doing that in the springboard of primary season for 2018 is extremely unwise."

Republicans are divided over the Dreamers. Some believe they are illegal immigrants who are taking American jobs, while others say they contribute to the country and deserve compassion.

Bannon, who said he left the White House on his own terms, lashed out against "establishment" Republicans who have at times grappled with Trump, a real estate celebrity who had never before held elected office.

"The Republican establishment is trying to nullify the 2016 election," Bannon said, saying it was an "open secret on Capitol Hill" that many Republicans did not support Trump's agenda, and singling out Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan for criticism.

"They do not want Donald Trump's populist, economic nationalist agenda to be implemented," Bannon said.

He called Republican national security officials who had served in the George W. Bush administration "idiots," including former secretaries of state Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell, and former Vice President Dick Cheney.

"I hold these people in contempt, total and complete contempt," Bannon said, blaming them for U.S. trade problems with China and involvement in Iraq.

"They're idiots, and they've gotten us in this situation, and they question a good man like Donald Trump," Bannon said.

 

(Reporting by Roberta Rampton; Editing by Peter Cooney and Mary Milliken)

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