Mike Pence lied about Steve Bannon’s military service

Donald Trump’s Vice President, Mike Pence, claimed last week that embattled top Trump adviser Steve Bannon served as a captain in the US Navy, and he was not.

Bannon, you may recall, is the former executive chairman of Breitbart, a far-right Web site that caters to the white supremacist Alt Right. Bannon bragged this summer that Breitbart is “the platform for the Alt Right.” The Alt Right is a hipster white supremacist movement that hates people of color and Jews.

Back to Pence’s lies. Contrary to Pence’s claim that Bannon served as a “captain,” in fact, Steve Bannon served in the US Navy as a lieutenant, three ranks below Captain.


But that’s not what Trump’s VP Mike Pence told PBS’ NewsHour the other day. See the 13:46 mark in the video below:

“But we value Steve Bannon’s input. Here’s an individual serving in uniform, a captain in the United States Navy, a partner at Goldman Sachs, successful businessperson who brings a strong perspective into discussions.”

Yeah, not so much. We already know that Bannon was just a lieutenant, not a captain. From Navy Times:

Bannon attended Officer Candidate School in Newport R.I., and was commissioned in the summer of 1977…. Bannon left the Navy as a lieutenant on Oct. 30, 1983.

Here’s the video of Pence making the false claim, again forward to the 13:46 mark in the video:

UPDATE: An earlier version of this story incorrectly transcribed the video of Pence speaking about Bannon. The story has been updated accordingly, we regret the error.

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39 Responses to “Mike Pence lied about Steve Bannon’s military service”

  1. Eric Parlin says:

    OK, let me explain this again. ‘O-3’ is the proper nomenclature of the rank. An O-3 is known by a different name in the Navy than other branches. An O-3 in the navy is called a LT, but in every other branch an O-3 is known as a Captain. Its the same as the nomenclature for a Sergeant’s rank is E-5 in some branches but the same rank (E-5) is called a 2nd class petty officer in the Navy. Its a common mistake that civilians make and not a big deal. It is exacerbated by the fact that a ‘Captian’ in the navy is an O-6, which is the same as a Colonel in other branches. Im trying to explain this nicely because its obvious you didnt serve your country or you would know this; unless you did serve you would have no reason to know.

  2. fred farkel says:

    Um no.

  3. fred farkel says:

    He was an LT not a Captain and it IS widely known genius!

  4. Eric Parlin says:

    Its not a lie. In every other branch an O-3 is a captian. The Navy is the only branch that calls an O-3 a Lieutenant. This isn’t widely known.

  5. chris35823 says:

    This article is assclownery. Pence’ father was in the Army. An O3 in the Army, Air Force, and even Marines is a Captain. Poor common sense there John.

  6. Forest Vinson says:

    Pence knew………..he knew the whole time….from the time he was selected to be vp .
    Pence is as guilty as all the trump Organizatin.
    Who contacted Russia trying to influence the US Election……let’s guess…….Manaford, Flynn, trump, Kusner, Ivanka, Don Jr., Eric, Pence, Several Republican High Officials…and more….

  7. Butch1 says:

    I rather doubt he’s seen any wars.

  8. Butch1 says:

    Conservative x-tians such as Pence don’t lie; do they? ;-)

  9. goulo says:

    Yay, it looks like John edited the post to correct that. The business about “war” is gone now.

  10. goulo says:

    Sure, I agree; criticize him for the clumsy attempt to misdirect and play the “but he’s a veteran so you can’t say anything bad about him” weasel card.

    But don’t criticize him for saying something which he DIDN’T actually say. Criticize people for the bad stuff which they really do, not for made-up false bad stuff which they don’t do. That’s all.

  11. Badgerite says:

    Well, in actual fact, there was a lot wrong with this interview by Judy Woodruff.
    The question she should have asked Pence was this: ” Who was responsible for the fact that the CBP were refusing, while the Immigration Ban was in place, to follow a federal court order requiring them to cease and desist deportations and allow detained people to meet with attorneys?” And: “Who was responsible for the order being implemented to exclude green card holders and long time legal residents?”
    And also, ” Do you think that Steve Bannon’s military service justifies a political operative, such as himself, being given a seat on the NSC while the Joints Chiefs of Staff of the military are excluded?”
    What Pence was doing, in actual fact, was a “look over there” lie. Who the H cares what Bannon’s rank was in the military. He isn’t on the Joint Chiefs of Staff and he shouldn’t be on the NSC when the Joint Chiefs themselves are excluded.

  12. goulo says:

    Sure, lest there be any confusion or doubt: I agree with you about this new administration being a crazy lying catastrophe.

    I was specifically addressing the false statement that Pence said Bannon served in war. If we think lying (or even unintentionally spreading misinformation which we later discover is bogus) is wrong – and slam the current White House occupants for doing it, then it’s hypocritical and wrong for us to do it. (Otherwise on what basis are we complaining about others doing it?)

    Not to mention that it’s counter-productive, since it bolsters the cynical rationalization / talking point that “Well, both sides lie anyway, so what difference does it make if you point out some lie which my side made? That’s just pointless distracting fake news making a big deal out of nothing!”… I’m disappointed that John seems to not want to correct this blog post. (Or maybe he’s not reading the comments and doesn’t know that the “war” claim is false?)

  13. Badgerite says:

    Okay. Point taken. But only in this particular instance and on this particular point. But he goes on to say how “in charge” president So Called is and I think that is just horse hockey. Everything that happened with those first executive orders, from the ban on Muslims which included green card holders and legal residents for decades, to the order putting Bannon on the NSC and removing any representatives from the Joint Chiefs or the CIA, says that these are President Bannon’s first executive orders. Apparently, trump did not even know what he was signing in some cases. I am so sick of GOP lying ( see Bowling Green “Massacre”, ACA “death panels”, “lock her up”, the list really is endless ) that I simply don’t check anymore. Pence puts on at least an acceptable show. He doesn’t act or talk like a flat out lunatic. And he isn’t owned by Putin. I don’t think. But he colludes with people who that can be said about. I don’t really care what Bannon did before. I can see what he is doing now. And what he proposes to do. And it is not good.
    We are a “civic society” and what that “civic society” is based on is the Constitution of the United States. And one of the documents of the founders that imbues every phrase in the Constitution with meaning is the phrase in the Declaration of Independence. “All men are created equal and endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights.” That is what our “civic society” is about. And it is a universal ideal. Not a parochial one.

  14. venus markov says:


  15. woodroad34 says:

    I was about to say the same thing. I’m thinking along the way we’ll be having President Ryan and VP McConnell. The republicans really need to push back against the immorality/illegality of their own party if they ever want to get out from under the stink of Agnew and Nixon.

  16. goulo says:

    Although I do agree it’s irrelevant to your other point, I still care that americablog is now spreading a false statement to rile people up, which is something we criticize Team Trump for doing. I think John should correct his blog post to note that “war” was evidently a transcription error for “uniform”, rather than continuing to present as fact that Pence “lied” and said that Bannon served in a war, when anyone listening to the interview can hear for themselves that Pence did NOT claim that. Leaving up this kind of false rumor seems irresponsible and makes the blog seem less trustworthy and less honest.

  17. rhallnj says:

    Its probably safe to assume that Pence is lying about the Flynn matter, too. He’s the only honest one in an admin of lying liars?

  18. ComradeRutherford says:

    If only lying by the White House staff was a problem for Conservatives…

  19. Badgerite says:

    Don’t care. Actually irrelevant to the point I was making which is that what president So Called was trying to do by attacking Richard Blumenthal’s war record or lack thereof was to call into question Blumenthal’s account of Neil Gorsuch, the nominee for the open SCOTUS seat, expressing concerns about president So Called attacking the 9th Circuit Appeals Court. As the headline says, “trump falsely accuses Senator of misrepresenting Gorsuch criticism”. Which he did not. With these guys, at this point, as I said, if they end up telling the truth about anything it is undoubtedly purely accidental.

  20. goulo says:

    Have you listened to the interview? I think jonathansryan upthread is right that “war” is simply a transcription error for “uniform”…

  21. Hemingway says:

    And Trump was a draft dodger – real news

  22. Disqusted says:

    Fake News.

  23. Badgerite says:

    Yeah, but “resume inflation” doesn’t explain the Bowling Green “massacre” or the biggest, bestest, happiest, inaugural EVAH. PERIOD.

  24. Duke Woolworth says:

    It’s just another example of Trumpian resume inflation.

  25. Duke Woolworth says:

    The countries were on the don’t travel list. Another example of the laziness of Trump and friends.

  26. Gailcnovak says:

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    On tuesday I got a great new Land Rover Range Rover from having earned $8752 this last four weeks.. Its the most-financialy rewarding I’ve had.. It sounds unbelievable but you wont forgive yourself if you don’t check it
    ➽➽;➽➽ http://GoogleFinancialJobsCash391TopStarGetPay$97Hour ★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★::::::!mj391d:….,……

  27. goulo says:

    or “who served in uniform”… The speech is fast and not clear: it’s kind of hard to understand precisely what he said, but I agree that it sounds like the word “uniform” is said than “war” at the end of the sentence.
    0:40 at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pk2z9HvvKgk

    FWIW PBS has an addendum that Pence agrees that he got the rank wrong.

  28. Rick Glaze says:

    We need truth.

  29. jonathansryan says:

    The transcript is wrong he clearly says ” Here’s an individual serving in a uniform” not “Here’s an individual serving in a war,” I don’t care for pence but he did not lie. He did get the rank wrong.

  30. Badgerite says:

    The Appeals Court just slapped them down. No removal of the stay placed on ban nationally. To me, it was rather obvious this was a politically motivated ban having to do with his promise to ban “Muslim” immigration and he targeted the countries he did not because they posed the greatest threat but because those were the countries where most immigration was coming from. And that would be a ban based on religion. The inference here is hard to ignore. Especially given what Giuliani said publicly.

  31. Kenster999 says:

    And if they were afraid that bad guys would get in between the announcement of the ban and the enforcement of the ban, couldn’t have they have instead announced that no new visa applications were being taken but that previously-approved ones would still be honored?

  32. CherMoe says:

    There are NO “mistakes” in the Republican party and in the #45 administration. They are LIES perpetuated for a certain devious agenda. Drumpf IS a freak of “humanity” … a genetic abnormality or whatever. The people who put this dangerous, hateful creature in the highest office in the world will eventually be held accountable for the destruction he and the Republican party will cause. And his cult followers will be the ones suffering the most, which will come as a surprise to these uneducated or selectively stupid people.

  33. CherMoe says:

    IF this guy served in the U.S. Military, he is a DISGRACE to the U.S. Navy and to our American military!!!

  34. Badgerite says:

    Jesus. Did president So Called just admit on CNN that the “travel ban”, in his presidential opinion, did not have to be rushed into implementation without notice as it was? Yes he did.
    He “thought it could have waited, a month or a week” but he was “told no”. Told no.
    “Told no” by who. President Bannon? And who, exactly, ordered the CBP to refuse to abide by a federal court order? They can’t even get their own story straight as to the alleged security need for this proposed “travel ban”.

  35. Kevin Fernandez says:

    Totally agree with you on the war part.

  36. Badgerite says:

    Okay. What “war” did Bannon “serve” in. Not that that matters. President So Called was simply trying to pretend that his nominee to the Supreme Court didn’t say exactly what he is on record saying. That is what we would call an “alternative fact”. This ‘administration’ is full of “alternative facts”. That is pretty much all you get from them most of the time.
    If they actually told the truth about anything it would probably be by accident.

  37. Badgerite says:

    Fascist enabler says what?

  38. Tom Chicago says:

    These episodes of aggrandizing the Trump team accomplish zero when they begin to accumulate in their ramshackle, busted-up pile. They become a large collection of clumsy fictions, and the aggregate result will be that we tune out on the latest broadcast. We need to remember this stuff, and spit it out with each force-feeding. Another excruciating line item for the resume of Mike Pence.

  39. Kevin Fernandez says:

    I don’t think there is an actual story here. While technically correct, the grade that Bannon was is represented by Capitan’s bars on the collar. The same grade/rank would be a “Captain” in the Army, Air Force and the Marines — it happens to be called Lieutenant in the Navy as the navy’s rank system simply uses different terms. This could be an honest mistake or the the error of someone unfamiliar with military ranks.

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