WASHINGTON — Steve Bannon, 10 months removed from the job of chief strategist to President Donald Trump and five months after his ouster from the arch-conservative news site Breitbart News, is betting that bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies can disrupt banking the way Trump disrupted American politics.
Bannon won’t reveal very much about his cryptocurrency plans — he worries that the controversy that comes with his name could have a bad impact on projects just getting off the ground.
But he has had private meetings with cryptocurrency investors and hedge funds where he has discussed working on so-called initial coin offerings through his investment business, Bannon & Co. And in his first interview on the topic, he said he had a “good stake” in bitcoin.
In a small gathering of academics at Harvard University this spring, he even floated the possibility of creating a new virtual currency, the “deplorables coin.” The name is a nod to Hillary Clinton’s description of Trump’s supporters as “a basket of deplorables.”
The work that Bannon is doing in the virtual currency realm is still in its early stages. But he has expressed an interest in helping entrepreneurs and even countries looking to create their own cryptocurrencies — generally outside the United States.
The offbeat world of cryptocurrencies has drawn interest from all sorts over the last few years, from drug dealers and scam artists to the biggest companies in Silicon Valley and the most staid institutions of Wall Street.
It is not a shocking place for Bannon, 64, to plot his re-emergence. Cryptocurrencies have many of the characteristics that drew him into Tea Party politics: They break old rules, they exist on the periphery, and they pose a challenge to the powerful figures and institutions that have long called the shots.
“It’s disruptive populism,” Bannon said in the interview, at his Capitol Hill townhouse in Washington. “It takes control back from central authorities. It’s revolutionary.”
Steve Bannon (R), former White House Chief Strategist to U.S. President Donald Trump, speaks as Lanny Davis, former special counsel to Bill Clinton, looks on at a debate at Zofin Palace on May 22, 2018 in Prague, Czech Republic.
Even though he has no formal ties to the business anymore, Bannon still refers to his townhouse as the “Breitbart Embassy,” the nickname given to it because so much of the site’s business was done there.
While Breitbart editors and writers no longer linger at all hours inside the embassy, remnants of the website remain in Breitbart mementos hanging from the wall and coffee mugs with the signature block B logo strewn about the kitchen. Bannon still accepts a steady stream of visitors who provide him intelligence and gossip from the conservative circles he once commanded. But these days he is just as likely to be convening meetings there on his new financial venture.
He won’t talk about a possible return to politics someday. His messy rupture with the White House over critical comments he made in Michael Wolff’s book “Fire and Fury” about colleagues and Donald Trump Jr. is still too …read more