New Lawsuit Seeks Records of Communications Between the State Department, Steve Bannon and Sean Hannity

(Photo: Gage Skidmore)

American Oversight is suing for records of communications that former White House strategist Steve Bannon, Fox News host Sean Hannity, and a former Breitbart editor had with U.S. diplomats in Europe — including Richard Grenell, the current ambassador to Germany who is reportedly being considered for the United National ambassadorship.

In July 2018, just a day before the arrival of President Donald Trump, Bannon hosted meetings in London with leaders of the European far-right. American Oversight filed a Freedom of Information Act request to uncover whether the State Department had been involved in arranging those meetings or had helped promote Bannon’s nationalist agenda.

Bannon reportedly met with the United Kingdom’s Nigel Farage and France’s Louis Aliot (French nationalist leader Marine Le Pen’s partner). Hannity also went to London, and hosted shows with both Bannon and Farage. In an interview with Politico at the time of the meetings, Bannon said that he was there “to be a surrogate on British media” for the Trump administration. The former editor of Breitbart London, Raheem Kassam, told the Atlantic that it was “a moment where the White House communications operation for one reason or another needs bolstering” and that he was “happy Steve’s here doing it in my country.”

Grenell has been criticized for statements in support of Bannon’s right-wing nationalist agenda, telling Breitbart News (of which Bannon was formerly executive chairman) that he wanted to empower European conservative leaders, including Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz.

The State Department has failed to provide the records requested by American Oversights in August 2018, prompting today’s lawsuit. “The Trump administration has strained our relationship with our allies by cheering the rise of nativist movements in Europe,” said Austin Evers, American Oversight’s executive director. “The American public has a right to see whether our foreign policy has been outsourced to conservative commentators over national security professionals.”