In the early 1990s, Trump campaign CEO chairman Steve Bannon was hired to fix a troubled Arizona project to simulate the surface of Mars. Biosphere II was plagued with problems — soaring costs, internal conflicts — and years of legal proceedings would follow.
In 1994, a former employee, Abigail Alling was indicted for damaging the facility during a break-in that she said was intended to warn crew members that new management, including Bannon, couldn’t safely run the project.
As part of Alling’s defense, her attorneys presented a partial transcript of a conversation Bannon had on April 17, 1994 — four days before Bannon delivered his grand jury testimony in the case against Alling — in which Bannon discusses his plan to deliver a “reality check” to her and “kick her ass.” The conversation was recorded by Biosphere II engineer William Dempster.
Bannon initially denied making the disparaging comments about Alling, according to court documents reviewed by BuzzFeed News. In the recordings obtained by BuzzFeed News, Bannon referred to her as a “bimbo,” “self-centered,” and “deluded.” In the recordings, he vows to take comments the woman made about the safety of the research facility they worked at and “ram it down her fucking throat.”
Bannon made the remarks, which were reported at the time by the Tucson Citizen and have been resurfaced by several news outlets this year, in the course of legal action involving Biosphere II, an Arizona research facility where Bannon was working as a consultant and interim director.
“I have never had an engineering mishap at sea and I am not about to have a 29-year-old bimbo criticize the people at this place for running something — compare it to the Challenger — compare us to the Rockwell — the O-rings — do you realize how mad that made me?” Bannon is heard saying on one part of the recording.
In another part of the conversation, Bannon says, “She thinks she’s a goddess. She thinks she’s above us all. She thinks she’s transformed something that we are not worthy of. Well you know what, I don’t buy that. I think she’s a self-centered, deluded young woman and she is about to get a reality check that I’m going to deliver to her.”
At one point, Bannon said he was going to take how the facility was run while Alling was still an employee and “ram it down her fucking throat.’
Alling did not did not return a request for comment on this story. Dempster declined to comment. A Bannon spokeswoman did not return a request for comment.
Bannon originally was brought on to Biosphere II as a consultant to cut costs in 1993. In 1994, after he was not allowed by the management to audit the project’s records, Biosphere II’s financial backer got a court order to take control of the project and an order to bar the current management employees from the premises. Bannon was then given full control of the project.
A partial transcript of a pretrial interview with Alling’s lawyer submitted by the defense in support of its motion to dismiss the case show that Bannon initially denied making the comments. The interview took place before he was aware that his conversation had been taped.
Alling’s defense attorney, Jesse Smith, asked Bannon in a pre-trial interview if he was aware that, though he was not under oath in the interview, that because it was a criminal prosecution the consequences were the same in that giving a “knowing false answer” or failing to tell the whole truth “could be construed as an obstruction of justice” (No formal allegations of obstruction of justice were ever raised).
Bannon replied, “Yes, sir.” He repeated that answer when asked if he would conduct himself as if he were under oath.
Later in the interview, he said, twice, “I’ve never referred to Ms. Alling as a bimbo.”
Bannon was asked if he’d said he planned to ram anything “down her effing throat. Teach her a lesson. Anything like that?” He answered that he didn’t “think words like that were used” and similarly denied having heard his associates, such as fellow banker Martin Bowen, use such language to describe what they intended to do at the grand jury proceedings four days later.
Though he admitted that he was “probably not very complimentary” toward Alling in his conversation with Dempster, Bannon repeated later in the interview that, “I did not use any terminology, I believe, like that. But I was, with Bill [Dempster], ah, it was very, um, ah, I was very vocal about, ah this being, um, that these charges being, um, you know, pursued by us and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
Asked again, he admitted, “I may have used terminology particular like that last that you just mentioned, but I did not, never said it in relation to a grand jury. Never said it in relation to any event that was coming up.” He also said no when Smith asked if he’d said she was “going to get some very rough lessons here in relation to the grand jury proceedings.”