Surprise! Yeah, not sarcastic this time. I did not anticipate seeing any interview with Steve Bannon overnight, much less this one, and it seems I’m not alone in that. Nobody expected this. Not even Steve Bannon, apparently.

In his interview with leftwing American Prospect, the chief White House strategist and arguable architect of Trump’s surprise victory last year cut loose, contradicted the president, and bashed his Breitbart-beloved alt-right.

Yep.

With the rumor mill in high gear that his future is in jeopardy, the man behind the Trump doesn’t seem phazed, reports the Prospect.

But Bannon was in high spirits when he phoned me Tuesday afternoon to discuss the politics of taking a harder line with China, and minced no words describing his efforts to neutralize his rivals at the Departments of Defense, State, and Treasury. “They’re wetting themselves,” he said, proceeding to detail how he would oust some of his opponents at State and Defense.

Chipper thought. He also directly contradicted both the President and the word of the United States government at large when he said that all of Trump’s North Korea talk was so much bunk. That’s not a quote. But it’s damn close to one:

Contrary to Trump’s threat of fire and fury, Bannon said: “There’s no military solution [to North Korea’s nuclear threats], forget it. Until somebody solves the part of the equation that shows me that ten million people in Seoul don’t die in the first 30 minutes from conventional weapons, I don’t know what you’re talking about, there’s no military solution here, they got us.” Bannon went on to describe his battle inside the administration to take a harder line on China trade, and not to fall into a trap of wishful thinking in which complaints against China’s trade practices now had to take a backseat to the hope that China, as honest broker, would help restrain Kim.

“To me,” Bannon said, “the economic war with China is everything. And we have to be maniacally focused on that. If we continue to lose it, we’re five years away, I think, ten years at the most, of hitting an inflection point from which we’ll never be able to recover.”

No military solution. Neither fire nor fury. That’s a wow all by itself, and will certainly have repercussions today. He undermined America’s word and denied our ability to back up talk with action. Sad.

Like all the other alt-Reich people with something to lose, Bannon is now trying to distance himself from his former fellows. And to make it sound like they were never his in the first place.

He dismissed the far right as irrelevant and sidestepped his own role in cultivating it: “Ethno-nationalism—it’s losers. It’s a fringe element. I think the media plays it up too much, and we gotta help crush it, you know, uh, help crush it more.”

“These guys are a collection of clowns,” he added.

While the statement itself is true, they are losers, this is amazingly dishonest. He and his website could not have done more to court white supremacists if they’d offered a dowry and giggled coyly at all their jokes. In fact, I think they kinda did that actual thing. The giggling bit, anyway.

So what is going on here? Is he on the way out and setting fire as he leaves the barn? Is he trying deliberately to push getting fired?

There’s more at American Prospect. I don’t know what he’s up to, but if we’ve learned anything in the last year, we know he’s up to something. And it’s probably nothing good.

Should be an interesting day.