The Firm founder Jeff Kwatinetz, a passionate liberal who was in business with Bannon for two years, says the White House chief counsel has “great character.”

Steve Bannon's Former Hollywood Partner Breaks Silence: "He's Not a Racist"

Jeff Kwatinetz, Bannon’s former Hollywood business partner, now says he can’t take it anymore so he has decided to go on the record for the first time with The Hollywood Reporter. In a Q&A, the founder of the talent management and TV production company The Firm says some surprising things about one of the most polarizing figures in politics. Bannon was with The Firm in 2002 and 2003 when it purchased Michael Ovitz’s powerful Artist Management Group.

Did you know his politics?

I don’t remember at what point I learned his politics, but as a liberal I believe in a free marketplace of ideas and I have people who believe all sorts of things at my company, and I’m very politically active. While Steve worked with me, I’d given seven figures to the DCCC [Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee], presidential candidates such as Richard Gephardt and Bill Bradley as well as several statewide candidates and others. But as a liberal, I don’t judge people on their politics, I judge them on their character, and from what I knew then and what I know now, Steve has great character. He’s not a racist or anti-Semitic. Things like that are absurd.

So why are people saying those things about him?

I’ve had 20 people who worked at The Firm when Steve was there ask me why the media is lying about Steve. Unlike most of us, Steve is very at ease with himself. He doesn’t need people to correct falsehoods, and he didn’t ask us to do so. He’s a great person who wants the world to be a better place. He’s a good friend and an incredibly hard worker. He has beliefs and stands by them. Those beliefs aren’t based on racism, they’re based on what he honestly believes is best for the world. Do I agree with all of them? No. He was a Bush and a [Donald] Rumsfeld supporter, I was a Bill Clinton and Bernie Sanders supporter. But not being a liberal doesn’t mean you’re a racist.

Did you ever witness anything that could be interpreted as anti-Semitic?

I know that he’s not anti-Semitic. I am absolutely positive that he’s not anti-Semitic or racist. It is absurd. I am Jewish, Roy Furman was Jewish, Andrew Breitbart was Jewish. He is not anti-Semitic. Period.

Continue to the full Q&A at The Hollywood Reporter