White House chief strategist Steve Bannon withdrew from a planned appearance at one of Washington’s premiere mainstream think tanks after scholars expressed alarm that the institution would be giving legitimacy and a friendly forum to one of the most controversial members of President Donald Trump’s administration.
Over the past month, staff members at the center-left Brookings Institution became aware that the think tank’s leadership had invited Bannon to address its board of trustees meeting in June, according to multiple Brookings staff members, who requested anonymity to speak openly with HuffPost. Because it would be a board meeting, it would not have been open to the public.
David Nassar, vice president of communications at Brookings, confirmed they extended the invitation.
Scholars at all levels of the organization developed concerns about Bannon’s appearance and whether staff would be able to press him and engage in an open dialogue. They had the opportunity to express their worries with Brookings President Strobe Talbott at three in-person meetings last week, Nassar said.
On Wednesday, Brookings informed staff that Bannon had decided not to attend. They did not state a reason for his decision. The White House did not return a request for comment on why Bannon backed out.
The Brookings Institution is certainly hostile territory for the Trump Administration and Steve Bannon, and numerous scholars at the Democratic think tank have bashed Trump and his allies on a number of occasions.