Bannon-backed candidates distance themselves over Wolff book

This is a rush transcript from "Your World," January 4, 2018. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: All right, well, first, the president said that Steve Bannon lost his mind. Now it appears that Mr. Bannon might be losing his friends, or at least those with whom he had a sort of political relationship, including my next guest.

He’s the former New York Congressman Michael Grimm running for his old House seat.

We do have a call, by the way, into Congressman Dan Donovan’s office. That has been not been returned, but hope springs eternal.

Anyway, it’s very good to have you, Michael. Thanks for taking the time.

MICHAEL GRIMM, R-FORMER U.S. CONGRESSMAN: It’s great to be here.

And I will tell you, it was treacherous getting here, actually.

CAVUTO: No, I appreciate it.

(LAUGHTER)

CAVUTO: But you’re a tough stock and a former war veteran. So, we appreciate that.

GRIMM: Absolutely.

CAVUTO: But let me ask you a little bit, Michael, about you and Bannon I wouldn’t say were really tight, but you were close, and he was very interested in your race. Now nothing. What happened?

GRIMM: Right.

Well, first, we did only meet twice. But that’s not the point. The point is, I was working with Bannon’s team for one purpose and one purpose only. And that was to help President Trump move his agenda forward. Period, end of story.

And if -- I will not work with anyone that doesn’t want to help our president and get that agenda where it needs to be, which is across the finish line, which will help not only the people of Staten Island and Brooklyn, but our entire country and, quite frankly, the world.

CAVUTO: He still seems -- that is, Bannon -- still seems to like the president’s agenda.

But he did say that he had, I think he said a 33.3 percent chance, referring to the president, of not making it through the first term here, that he might have to resign.

What did you make of that?

GRIMM: Well, I think the most disturbing part for me really was taking shots at the president’s children, his family.

That to me is just -- it’s appalling. You shouldn’t go there. And I have said from the beginning that this Russia-gate nonsense is a political witch-hunt. To give it any credence whatsoever hurts the president and certainly hurts his administration.

And it’s a major distraction that the left has used to slow down the president’s agenda and to delegitimize his presidency. So, anything that feeds into that is hurtful and harmful to the presidency.

And I simply can’t support that at all. I mean, I’m diametrically opposed to this absolute political witch-hunt.

CAVUTO: Yes.

GRIMM: Something I know -- unfortunately, know quite a bit about.

CAVUTO: Now, it looks like Bannon has been sidelined after the Roy Moore loss. Remember, he was pushing for Roy Moore in Alabama. That candidate lost. Doug Jones, a Democrat, came in, narrowed the gap in the Senate to 51-49 from 52-48.

Do you think now that Bannon is finished?

GRIMM: You know, I really don’t know.

For me, it’s -- it’s -- it’s -- I won’t allow it to distract from what I need to do. You know, I look at it as, these were harmful comments, but not as harmful as my opponent, who has voted against the president’s agenda every chance he got.

On repealing Obamacare, he voted no. Sanctuary cities, banning that, he voted no. And then he voted against the tax reform bill. So, what I care about is what the people of Staten Island and Brooklyn need to get done.

CAVUTO: Well, wait a minute. You can argue why he would vote against a tax reform bill in your neck of the woods.

GRIMM: Sure.

CAVUTO: Staten Island, New York, a lot of people who can’t write off their local state and sales taxes, that’s a big deal, right?

GRIMM: Well, it’s a big deal.

But still over 90 percent of the people in my district will still have a tax cut. That’s the part that is very misleading. Will we have as much of a tax cut as someone, say, in Texas or in Florida that doesn’t have any high state taxes? No, we won’t have as much, but we will still have a tax cut.

However, everyone is leaving out the ancillary benefits that you just mentioned on your show. How about the fact that 401(k)s are going up? how about all the charitable contributions that are going on, the jobs that are being created?

We can’t forget all of this. There’s a lot of people in my district that are going to have all the ancillary benefits on top of a tax cut, although the tax cut is not as high, again, as those lower-tax states.

CAVUTO: Right.

GRIMM: But it’s still very good for our economy. And over 90 percent of the people in my district will have a tax break.

CAVUTO: Do you worry, though, with what you’re trying to do, Congressman, and get your old seat back, that maybe given what happened to Bannon, maybe given what happened to Bannon’s primary candidate in Alabama, Roy Moore, that renegade or rebel challenges -- I don’t mean to trivialize you -- to established Republican congress men or women, that that ship has sailed, that no one wants to risk it?

You say what?

GRIMM: Well, again, I think my race is very unique and very different.

Let’s -- the people in Staten Island and Brooklyn remember, number one, I’m the person that took on the entrenched Democrat that held the seat. I took it back for the Republican Party, not my opponent.

He never would have done that.

CAVUTO: Michael, you’re also the guy who had to serve time for something maybe that you argue was an unfair rap. But they are going to remember you for that as well, right?

GRIMM: Well, I think they’re going to remember for all the work I did during Sandy recovery.

I think they’re going to remember all the bills that I passed and signed into law, where my opponent has not even signed one substantive bill into law.

And, yes, of course, my opponent is going to make this all about the fact that I have criminal record now. But when we look at that, Loretta Lynch, the same person who is in the news now, that was a political witch-hunt.

I’m the only restaurant owner in the history of New York City not to be given a civil fine. And I think the people of Staten Island and Brooklyn are upset about that. I think they know that it was a political witch-hunt and they know that I was targeted unfairly for one reason, to get me out of office.

And I was doing a very good job. And I think the people of Staten Island and Brooklyn are going to believe in me again to do the same exact job I was doing before.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: It’s a congressional race, I grant you. It’s a primary battle, I grant you. But do you think the president and do you want the president to campaign on your behalf?

GRIMM: Oh, I would welcome the president to campaign on my behalf, absolutely. I’m a 100 percent supporter of President Trump.

But I don’t think that he would get involved in a primary like this. I don’t think it behooves him to get involved in contentious primaries, as the president of the United States.

CAVUTO: You don’t think you’re dividing the Republican field, and, let’s, say you or Donovan were to win -- and Dan Donovan’s office, by the way, did return our phone call, Congressman. We’re just working on something.

But do you think you’re harming it for the party and a Democrat just slips in?

GRIMM: Not at all.

I think that, unfortunately, Donovan’s voting record, going against his base and going against our president so consistently, has made -- has put him in a position where he cannot win the general election.

At this point, I think I’m the only one that will be able to defeat the Democrat challenger when that time comes, because, again, he’s just consistently voted against it.

And he has an F on the NRA voting card. I mean, that’s -- he’s pretty liberal.

CAVUTO: All right, so I’m going to put you down as a maybe on him.

(LAUGHTER)

CAVUTO: Michael Grimm, always good seeing you. Be warm. Thank you for making the trip.

GRIMM: Thank you, Neil.

CAVUTO: All right.

 


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