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Bannon says Trump administration rivals are 'wetting themselves'

Washington (dpa) - White House advisor Steve Bannon took a swing at rivals in the Trump administration, telling a liberal magazine in a rare interview that officials who do not want to take a hard line on China are "wetting themselves."

Bannon told The American Prospect that the US is at "economic war with China."

Rarely in the public eye, Bannon's interview, published Wednesday, comes after a string of reports saying he had fallen out of favour with some in the White House and that his job as President Donald Trump's chief strategist was in jeopardy.

When journalist Robert Kuttner asked Bannon about officials at the departments of Defence and State that oppose his push for tougher action against China on trade, he said he was working to remove them.

"They're wetting themselves," he said.

"I'm changing out people at East Asian Defence; I'm getting hawks in. I'm getting Susan Thornton [acting head of East Asian and Pacific Affairs] out at State," he said.

"We gotta do this," Bannon said when asked about the scepticism in some quarters of the administration about taking harsh measures against China for its trade practices.

"The president's default position is to do it, but the apparatus is going crazy. Don't get me wrong. It's like, every day."

On Monday, Trump signed an order asking US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to determine whether US trade with China - including China's alleged theft of US intellectual property - warrants investigation.

Bannon also said in the apparently impromptu interview that there was "no military solution" to the North Korean nuclear threats and called the white nationalists who rallied in Virginia - provoking a storm of criticism for the president - "clowns."

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