Longtime Republican strategist-turned-Never-Trumper Steve Schmidt stormed off the podcast he co-founded after he was grilled about working for Starbucks founder Howard Schultz’s budding presidential bid.
Schmidt was interviewed by Republican strategist Elise Jordan and former George W. Bush aide Adam Levine on Words Matter, the podcast all three of them co-founded.
Schmidt told the co-hosts that he would not be involved in a presidential campaign but would lead a political group to support a third-party “movement” funded by Schultz, The Daily Beast reported.
Levine asked Schmidt how Schultz could get to 270 electoral votes and if he could name even one state the former Starbucks chief could carry.
Schmidt argued that a third-party bid would open up “multiple pathways” to 270 electoral votes, the total needed to clinch the election, and claimed that Schultz was polling at 18 percent in three-way matchups including Democrats Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Kamala Harris.
Schmidt slammed the Democrats and ranted that the 70 percent top marginal tax rate proposed by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and backed by numerous Democrats was “ridiculous, confiscatory, anti-growth.”
“Will Derek Jeter or another athlete not hit another home run because they’re going to get taxed at 70?” Levine pressed. “What’s the economic behavior that he thinks is anti-growth, other than his own pocket?”
“This is bullshit,” Schmidt responded. “I’m not doing this.”
“Steve, you’ve got to answer the questions,” Levine said.
“I’m not,” he shot back as he slammed his headset and abruptly ended the interview.
Schmidt threatened to sue if interview was published:
The Daily Beast reported that Schmidt “threatened legal action against the studio if the interview airs.” “When his legal threat failed, he offered to buy the recording,” the report added. “The studio refused.”
“My objection is not on a tough question. It’s the surreality of having a podcast hijacked from me. Until this recording, I had always thought this was Elise’s and my podcast,” Schmidt told the outlet.
“I think he thought it would be a softball interview,” Levine told The Daily Beast. “I love him, I hope he’s OK, but what he did is antithetical to the mission of Words Matter. After everything he said about Donald Trump in the past two years, he’s part of an effort that could lead to Trump’s reelection.”