Trump Still Has Bannon and Stone on Speed Dial, Despite His Public Claims To the Contrary: Report

Steve Bannon and Roger Stone are two of President Donald Trump’s most controversial former advisers but recent reports indicate that Trump has kept communications open with the men despite neither having official government roles.

As CEO of the 'alt-right' Breitbart news network, Bannon is viewed by the president as a hotline to the populist conspiracy-theory driven base that helped his rise to power.

Multiple associates of both Trump and Bannon told The Washington Post that the two have kept in regular touch since Bannon resigned as White House chief strategist in August.

Despite Bannon declaring war on the Congressional GOP after leaving his White House role and even backing a candidate in the Alabama Senate race opposed by the president, the two still speak several times a week, according to the report.

Trump reportedly initiates the calls to avoid the hawk-like scrutiny of his chief of staff, former Marine Corps general John Kelly, who regulates the president’s incoming communications.

Meanwhile, Roger Stone—who is allegedly linked to hackers behind the theft of emails from DNC servers during the 2016 presidential election—claimed to have spoken to Trump over the phone earlier in the week, saying he had urged the president to release a full batch of classified documents relating to the assassination of John F. Kennedy in 1963.

“Yesterday, I had the opportunity to make the case directly to the president of the United States by phone as to why I believe it is essential that he release the balance of the currently redacted and classified JFK assassination documents,” Stone told conspiracy theorist Alex Jones on his show Infowars .

The two parted company during Trump’s bid for the GOP presidential nomination in 2015, but Stone remained a vocal backer of Trump and acted as an informal campaign adviser. As the Russia probe gathered momentum in May, Trump denied that he had been in recent contact with Stone, but the political consultant and lobbyist insisted communications were open between them. 

Rep. Walter Jones, a North Carolina Republican, told Politico Friday that Stone “tells me he talks to the president regularly—and I think Roger Stone has real influence.”

If true, the reports are likely to dismay those who believe Bannon’s expulsion and the increasing influence of Generals James Mattis, H.R. McMaster and Kelly in the White House signaled the weakening influence of the populist right on Trump’s thinking.

Bannon’s ties with the alt-right white nationalist movement came under scrutiny following the Charlottesville Unite the Right protest in August, while Stone has been questioned by Congressional panels probing Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Stone seemed to have foreknowledge of WikiLeaks' possession on hacked information about John Podesta, Hillary Clinton's campaign chair, ahead of the information's release. Stone adamantly denies improper contact with Russian hackers allegedly responsible for leaking hacked DNC emails to WikiLeaks during the campaign.

Writing for Vox, three politics experts outlined the strategic importance of the conspiracy theories and anti-elitist politics of Bannon and Stone in Trump's grip on power.

Matthew D. Atkinson, Darin DeWitt and Joseph E. Uscinski  wrote: “Disdain for elites is the common thread uniting the diverse conservative groups outside the Republican establishment. Trump’s continued support among these groups is due to his continued practice of the politics of disruption.” 

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