Before becoming mortal enemies over the past several days, Steve Bannon And President Trump apparently enjoyed a relationship deep enough that it resulted in a very senior Chief Strategist position for the Breitbart chairman in the Trump White House.
But, if CNN is to be believed, Bannon, before taking a key role on his campaign and helping him win the White House, may have prepared a "Trump Dossier" of his own with intentions of sinking the Trump candidacy in favor of Ted Cruz. According to CNN's reports, Bannon teamed up with Government Accountability Institute (GAI) co-founder Peter Schweizer (also the author of "Clinton Cash") to develop "opposition research" alleging connections between Trump businesses and organized crime bosses.
A conservative watchdog group led by Bannon tried to discredit Trump in the early stages of the 2016 Republican presidential primary by shopping a document alleging that Trump had ties to mobsters, according to conservative sources and a copy of the document reviewed by CNN.
The anti-Trump opposition research was the work of author Peter Schweizer for the Government Accountability Institute, which he cofounded with Bannon in 2012. It described years of alleged business connections between Trump companies and organized crime figures, allegations that have circulated among Trump detractors for years.
As you may recall, the GAI is backed by the Mercer family, one of the largest benefactors for Trump's campaign. Rebekah Mercer, the daughter of hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer, is listed as the group's chairwoman on its website.
But in 2015, when the document was produced, the Mercers were backing the campaign of Texas Senator Ted Cruz, and Bannon had not yet joined the Trump campaign.
While it's unclear if Bannon was involved in the opposition research project, in early 2016, at the height of the Republican primary fight, Cruz did cite possible mob ties as one reason for Trump to release his taxes in an interview with ABC's George Stephanopoulous...which can be seen here:
Asked about the research document, GAI simply said they conducted research on all the political candidates during the 2016 primary process.
A source familiar with GAI's work said the group conducted research on all Republican and Democratic candidates running in the 2016 election. Bannon and the Mercers were not involved in the "day to day machinations of the research," but the source said they were aware of the effort to drill down on candidates and share some of that research with news organizations.
"We research political figures from all political parties and our basic premise is follow the money. That's what guides our research approach," Schweizer told CNN.
Of course, the document was apparently never deemed credible enough by the GAI to see the light of day, though we're confident it will add another 12 months to Robert Mueller's investigation.