Stephen Bannon, the Breitbart News executive and new Donald Trump campaign CEO, was charged with misdemeanor domestic violence, battery, and dissuading a witness following an incident with his then-wife in 1996.
According to a police report obtained by Politico, when Santa Monica, California, police responded to a 911 call on New Year’s Day, Bannon’s wife alleged that he pulled her neck and wrist during a dispute over their finances. She said that when she picked up the phone to call the police, Bannon jumped over her and their twin seven-month-old girls and smashed it. Per Politico:
“She told him that maybe he should find another place to live, that she wanted a divorce. [REDACTED] said he laughed at her, and said he would never move out,” the report states.
Bannon had gone out to their car, followed by his then-wife, the report says. She then spat at him, and Bannon “reached up to her from the driver’s seat of his car and grabbed her left wrist. He pulled her down, as if he was trying to pull [her] into the car, over the door.”
“[REDACTED] said Mr. Bannon grabbed at neck, also pulling her into the car. She said that she started to fight back striking at his face so he would let go of her. After a short period of time she was able to get away from him,” the report states.
The officer noted seeing “red marks on her left wrist and the right side of her neck,” and said the injuries were photographed.
A month later, the Santa Monica District Attorney’s office filed a complaint against Bannon. In March 1996, he pleaded not-guilty on all counts at his arraignment, and was released on his own recognizance. The case was called for trial in August 1996, but the judge ordered the case dismissed because the “victim/witness” was “unable to be located.”
Bannon’s wife filed for divorce five months later. In divorce documents obtained by the New York Post, Bannon’s wife claimed that Bannon’s attorney “threatened” her, saying she “would have no money [and] no way to support the children” if the case went to trial. She said Bannon told her “that if I wasn’t in town they couldn’t serve me and I wouldn’t have to go to court,” and said that if there was a trial, “he and his attorney would make sure that I would be the one who was guilty.” She said she left town for two weeks, and returned once Bannon’s attorney told her the case had been dismissed.
The divorce documents also contain disturbing allegations regarding their daughters. The couple were married three days before the birth of their twin girls, and his ex-wife claimed, “Bannon made it clear that he would not marry me just because I was pregnant. I was scheduled for an amniocentesis and was told by the respondent that if the babies were normal we would get married.” When the test found the babies were “normal,” she was given a prenuptial agreement.
She also alleges that Bannon believed in corporal punishment and spanked one of the girls when she was a toddler in an effort to make her stop banging her head against her crib. She says that when she intervened Bannon called her “f—ing crazy,” and said that if she hadn’t stopped him, “she wouldn’t be banging her head anymore.”
Bannon’s ex told the Post that she and her daughters have no comment. A representative for Bannon responded, “Steve has a great relationship with his ex-wife and his twins.”
Several people on Twitter suggested that the domestic-violence story was leaked, as the reports appeared in Politico and the Post seven minutes apart — and just hours after a major speech in which Hillary Clinton introduced America to Breitbart and the “alt-right.”
The story’s appearance in the Post also raises more questions about the fracturing of the conservative media once controlled by Rupert Murdoch. In recent weeks, the Post has run nude photos of Melania Trump and a column in which Andrea Peyser declared she can no longer support the GOP nominee. In other Murdoch-owned outlets, Fox News’s Sean Hannity has been unabashedly promoting Trump, sparking a feud with Never Trump Wall Street Journal columnist Bret Stephens. Meanwhile, former Fox News chief Roger Ailes, who’s in the midst of a sexual-harassment scandal, is said to be helping Trump with debate prep (though the campaign denies it).
As for Trump, he’s now three-for-three when it comes to top campaign officials being embroiled in scandal. Earlier this month, Bannon and campaign manager Kellyanne Conway essentially replaced campaign manager Paul Manafort as new reports emerged about Manafort’s possibly illegal lobbying on behalf of pro-Russia politicians in Ukraine. And Manafort replaced Corey Lewandowski, who was accused of manhandling a female Breitbart News reporter.
Trump has yet to comment on the domestic-violence story, but he could plausibly claim he knew nothing about it. Earlier on Thursday, Trump told CNN’s Anderson Cooper that “nobody even knows” what the alt-right is, and he was unaware that Bannon recently said of Breitbart, “We’re the platform for the alt-right.”