Steve Bannon tried to get close to Jeffrey Epstein, thinking he was a spy, report says

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Steve Bannon tried to get close to Jeffrey Epstein, thinking he was a spy, report says
A composite image of Jeffrey Epstein (left) and Steve Bannon (right). Davidoff Studios, Stephanie Keith/Getty Images
  • Steve Bannon's associates discussed his meetings with Jeffrey Epstein with Rolling Stone.
  • They speculated that Bannon likely believed Epstein had intelligence links.

Steve Bannon, Donald Trump's former chief strategist, tried to befriend Jeffrey Epstein because he likely believed the convicted sex offender was a spy, Rolling Stone reported, citing two of his associates.

Two Republican operatives who spoke to the publication anonymously said Bannon was "intrigued by Epstein's reputed role as middleman for intelligence services in the United States and abroad."

One of the sources said that he once asked Bannon about a 2018 report that he had been seen entering Epstein's Manhattan mansion. Bannon admitted to having visited Epstein and remarked, "Have you seen the Turkish currency?" appearing to suggest that he believed Epstein was linked to the recent collapse of the Turkish lira, the source told Rolling Stone.

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"He [Bannon] always insinuated that he was still working with the CIA, even when he was outside the White House, which is completely bullshit," the former employee said.

Bannon left the Trump administration in August 2017, where he served as the president's chief strategist.

Epstein was imprisoned after a 2008 sex-offender conviction, but after serving a mere 13 months in jail returned to the high life and reportedly had a currency trading business. He was arrested again in 2019 on federal charges for sex trafficking, and died by suicide awaiting trial in a jail cell that August.

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Charles Johnson, a right-wing activist who worked with Bannon at the conservative news outlet Breitbart, told Rolling Stone that Bannon likely saw Epstein as connected to the intelligence world.

Of a meeting between the pair, he said: "What I was told about that meeting by people close to Bannon was that he was trying to replace Epstein as a source for information from various intelligence networks. He saw Epstein as a rival or a partner but he wanted what Epstein had."

Bannon's attorney did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment on the report.

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Rumors had long circulated that Epstein had connections with foreign intelligence agencies, and may have traded secrets about powerful figures about whom he had obtained compromising information.

The author Michael Wolff claimed in a book published earlier this year that Bannon had coached Epstein for a potential interview on "60 Minutes."

In a statement to The New York Times, Bannon said he had recorded hours of interviews with Epstein, encouraged him to tell his story on "60 Minutes," and was making a documentary showing how Epstein's "perversions and depravity toward young women were part of a life that was systematically supported, encouraged, and rewarded by a global establishment that dined off his money and his influence."

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Epstein once told Bannon in an interview that he was a supporter of Time's Up, the charity against sexual harassment, and had discussed the idea of suicide in jail, The New York Post reported.

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