Stephen K. Bannon, President Trump’s former chief strategist, compared the launch of an impeachment inquiry this week to the “shot at Fort Sumter” that started the Civil War.
Mr. Bannon, who left the White House in 2017, made the connection on the heels of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi clearing the way Tuesday evening for Congress to consider removing Mr. Trump from office.
“We have a pre-5 o’clock presidency and a post-5 o’clock presidency,” Mr. Bannon told The Washington Post, the newspaper reported Wednesday. “Pelosi’s announcement to begin a formal process at 5 p.m. was the shot at Fort Sumter. Now you cannot freelance, you cannot go rogue. You have to be disciplined. You have to be high and tight.”
Mrs. Pelosi, California Democrat, announced the previous evening that the House of Representatives will initiate a formal impeachment inquiry against Mr. Trump, heeding growing calls from within her caucus following months of reluctance.
“The actions taken to date by the president have seriously violated the Constitution,” Mrs. Pelosi said. “The president must be held accountable. No one is above the law.”
Historians widely consider the 1861 bombardment of Forth Sumter in South Carolina as the starting point of the American Civil War. Roughly five months after South Carolina became the first state to succeed from the U.S., the battle set the stage for Union and Confederate forces to remain at odds for the next four years, ultimately resulting in the deadliest war in American history.
Calls from members of Congress in favor of impeachment grew in recent days amid revelations that Mr. Trump asked his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelensky, to investigate 2020 Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joseph R. Biden. A related whistleblower complaint filed by a member of the U.S. intelligence community is the subject of a House Intelligence Committee hearing happening Thursday morning.
Mr. Bannon, 65, served as chairman of Breitbart News before joining Mr. Trump’s election campaign in 2016. He subsequently served as a senior adviser to the president prior to leaving the administration after roughly seven months.