BRISTOL, England – Arron Banks sipped his Milky Tea and patiently told an American journalist that he was really not joking.
He did not scream, of course. He was much more profane.
The 52-year-old millionaire insurance mogul – with a passion for off-road car rallies in Kenya, endless Gin Tonics and Brexit politician Nigel Farage – was the principal bank scooter of the 2016 Renegade campaign to exit Britain from the European Union
This campaign made him the largest political giver in British history – and he wrote history because his side won.
Banks and his inner circle are now under the trans -atlantic microscope, at least of peripheral interest to the Mueller investigation and subject to investigations by the British Electoral Commission, the Information Commission and a parliamentary selection committee, all Russian interference to investigate false news, spending irregularities and data misuse in the Brexit campaign.
All a witch hunt, says Banks
US. Congress investigators are now holding thousands of e-mails and texts generated by Banks and its Brexiteers – documents that have been stolen, Banks says; Documents leaked by whistleblowers say British journalists.
Rep. Adam B. Schiff (California), the Supreme Democrat of the House's intelligence committee, said he had pressing questions about whether Banks and his staff "served as an information medium for and by the Russians on behalf of the Trump campaign." 19659010] Bring it, says Banks.
Banks spoke twice with the Washington Post this week, once in his insurance firm seat, which Banks According to Rick, looks like the stage for Ricky Gervais' British mockumentarium "The Office" and once Old Down, a vast rolling landscape of giant hare, migratory llamas and views all the way to Wales, which leases banks for weddings and seminars for retirees to "wealth management". He lives in a much smaller farmhouse down the street.
He tore off his tie. He smoked a cigarette. His cardiologist, who scribbled "LIFESTYLE" on his medical report, does not matter.
The clubby, greedy, cunning, cricket-crazy conservative compares his insurgents favorably with the Viet Cong.
He admires guerrillas, disruptors and President Trump.
Banks told the Washington Post that he had met with the Russian ambassador in London at least four times. They got drunk together. You have texted. First name.
The ambassador attempted to sign a contract with Banks for the consolidation of Russian gold mines. Later, the Russians had a diamond trade.
"So what?" Banks shrugged. He looked at it, he said. He is finally a businessman. He is involved in diamond mines in South Africa and at a uranium mine in Niger. But, he insists, he did not do business with the Russians – no gold, no diamonds.
Banks said he would be happy to appear in front of the US house when he is invited. He seems to be one of those rare individuals enjoying the theater to perform in front of selected committees.
When he and his business partner, Sidekick and Brexit spokesman Andy Wigmore, were recently exposed by British lawmakers as part of an investigation into fake news
The duo opened the session by asking committee chairperson Damian Collins if he himself apologize for accepting tickets for a Chelsea football match – the club belongs to the Russian billionaire oligarch Roman Abramovich
"Nice try," said Collins, who gave as well as he did.
The session came to a halt as the duo went out. They were asked to stay another five minutes to finish, but Banks said they were late for lunch.
"You can join us if you want," Wigmore told lawmakers.
Banks was in the Trump Tower with Farage and Wigmore. They were the first foreign delegation to meet with the President-elect in November 2016.
Wigmore, whom Bank affectionately calls "the worst public relations man in London", believes Trump will become "the greatest president" in American history.
Banks nodded, yes.
Wigmore and Banks admitted during their testimony to the British Parliament committee to spread false news that they enjoyed misleading journalists.Reports have told reporters "the smartest, stupidest people on the planet." Called Earth. They are smart, but they want to believe something of it. "
Member of Parliament Collins told the post office that Banks had downplayed his contact with the Russian Embassy and Russian business people, apparently there is much more."
Collins, who has been investigating the Kremlin's political interference for two years , said the Russian style is to reach fellow travelers with common beliefs – they see a person who is disruptive and try to help that person.
Banks is a student of Trump's speeches, which show a sort of genius of repetition, he says, a classic propaganda instrument. Emotion. Emotion. To repeat. To repeat. "Crooked Hillary." "Low-energy Jeb."
"It's what sticks in people's minds," Banks said.
Banks said they were trying to imitate Trump's style in the Brexit campaign.
Like Trump, Banks is a super-tweeter online duelist – and a serious troll.
For example, he dismisses the reporter Carole Cadwalladr of the Observer newspaper – who has published major reports on Banks, Cambridge Analytica and Russian influence – as the "sad cat lady" obsessed by him.
Cadwalladr told The Post that Banks is a "tot" wagging and weaving, but when trapped in a primer says it's all just a lark. "The cat lady stuff is pure misogyny," she said. "But the ugliness of the current attacks shows that they are scared."
That's what Banks seems to yawn. He loves to play head games with journalists and urges the government of Prime Minister Theresa May to deliver the definitive, hard, divisive Brexit that voters vote for.
His Russian wife, Katya, a former gymnast and model, dived in the rose garden with three of her five dogs. She had Russian cousins in tow.
"Look at that, he's a squeezer," Banks warned in front of the dachshund.
Katya was involved in a complex British-Russian scandal that brought the news in 2010 and that never really led to anything – but in Banks style, their big Range Rovers on the Drive now sport license plates read KBII SPY and X MI5 SPY ,
Few people in the British political class knew who Banks was in 2014. His father ran farms in South Africa. Banks did not go to university. Then he said he would give 100,000 pounds to the UK Independence Party (UKIP), Great Again's immigration opponent, by Tories as a bunch of whack jobs and racists who could barely win a seat in parliament. 19659042] When William Hague, then the leader of the House of Commons, sniffed that he had never heard of this character of Arron Banks, insurance magnate Farage said he should donate a million pounds.
In conjunction with Brexit, Banks said he gave $ 13 million. He insists it was all his money, not Russia's.
"As much as it splits – and there are no two ways, Brexit and Trump are splitting in epic proportions – I think sometimes it takes characters in the story who are changing the direction of things, and that's what with Brexit happened, "Banks told the Post. "Our politicians struggle to cope, but is that a surprise?"
Banks' book, written after the historic poll, is a loose diary – a selfish, funny, self-deprecating,
Many paragraphs begin:
"Ten G & Ts later." . "
" Before I Was Crushed … "
" In the midst of alcoholism … "
British political journalist Isabel Oakeshott (whose emails had disappeared) concluded that Banks and Wigmore were "shamelessly used by the Russians" in a "classic Russian fishing expedition".  Arron Banks, right, co-founder of the Leave.EU campaign, and Andy Wigmore, left, a political official, pose for a portrait at the Old Down Estate in Bristol, England. (Tori Ferenc for the Washington Post)
We asked Banks about it. He called the rating "hard" and stated that he and Farage and Wigmore were sufficiently worried about the accusation of teaching American diplomats about their Russian contacts – so as not to embarrass Trump.
Rob Ford, a London academic The author of " Revolt on the Right" described Banks as a polarizing, outspoken character, "who appears to be in the limelight and the controversy he engenders, one of those people who likes say provocative things and then sit back and watch everyone argue. "
Would Banks meet Trump if he comes to England later this month?
"We would not say no," Banks replied.
Wigmore joked, "Tell 'em, we are not radioactive!"