Charles Johnson, a conservative provocateur, worked with Bannon at Breitbart News, the right-wing website Bannon led for several years, and also got the impression that Bannon’s visits to Epstein involved the intelligence world. Johnson says that Bannon made several visits to Epstein’s New York mansion after he was ousted from the White House in August 2017. “He also offered to introduce me to him at one point,” Johnson tells Rolling Stone. (Johnson declined the offer.) “What I was told about that meeting by people close to Bannon was that he was trying to replace Epstein as a source for information from various intelligence networks. He saw Epstein as a rival or a partner but he wanted what Epstein had.” Johnson, who says he’s now a Biden supporter, said he has been cooperating with law-enforcement officials investigating Bannon.
In recent years, Bannon has become a close to Guo Wengui, a fugitive Chinese billionaire living in New York who has been locked in a dispute with his homeland. Guo has accused Chinese Communist Party officials of corruption; China has accused him of bribery, fraud, and blackmail. At the same time, Guo has been accused by one of his former business partners and a Chinese media star of, among other things, sexual blackmail. According to a lawsuit filed in New York and reports in Toronto’s Globe and Mail newspaper, Guo allegedly used prostitutes and hidden cameras to compromise powerful figures as a means of clout and control. A message sent to Guo’s representative seeking comment was not returned.
Just as he helped elevate Epstein’s status, Bannon has attempted to legitimize Guo. He has served on the boards of companies and nonprofits linked to Guo, some of which are reportedly under federal investigation. He had been living on Guo’s yacht when he was arrested last year for defrauding donors to a group trying to build Trump’s border wall.