Impeachment proceedings will be launched against Donald Trump in January unless he can hold onto the House of Representatives, his former campaign chairman Steve Bannon has warned.

Bannon yesterday said the Democrats are on course to win a majority of House seats in the midterm elections and would soon move to kick Mr Trump from office.

He warned that impeachment hearings would bring “months of nastiness” for the Trump administration as key figures are forced to testify under the glare of public scrutiny and the television cameras.

Bannon also hit out at those who believe the Democrats are not ultimately seeking impeachment, warning they are “dangerously naive” and “kidding themselves”.

“It‘s very simple, it‘s an up or down vote,” Bannon said of the November midterms. “You vote up, he stays. You vote down, he goes. It‘s like the old gladiators.”

The dire warning is part of a strategy by some Republicans to make Trump supporters realise the seriousness of the political situation in a bid to drive them to the polling stations later this year.

It comes after what has been dubbed Trump‘s worst week in office, with the conviction of Michael Cohen, his former personal lawyer, and Paul Manafort, his former campaign chairman.

The former proved especially damaging, with Cohen ‘flipping‘ by admitting to breaking campaign finance laws over two hush money payments but saying he did so under the “direction” of Trump.

The US president has admitted the payments, made to buy the silence of porn star Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal before the 2016 election after they claimed affairs, ultimately came from him. However he said campaign funds were not used and denied any illegality.

The fallout from Cohen‘s allegation has dominated Washington all week and renewed discussion of impeachment – the process through which the US Congress can remove a sitting president from office.

First the House of Representatives and then the Senate – the two bodies that make up Congress – would have to vote for impeachment for it to be binding. Currently the Republicans have majorities in both bodies.

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But Steve Bannon, making his first public comments since the convictions, warned that the Democrats are on course to win 30 to 35 seats in the midterms – enough to take back the House and start impeachment proceedings.

“They will field-strip this administration during impeachment hearings,” said Bannon, a former White House chief strategist, about the prospect of a Democrat-controlled House.

“It‘s going to be brutal. Look at the Nixon times, look at Clinton. When you have these impeachment hearings it gets nasty and personal. All the administration work will stop. Nothing will happen.”

Bannon predicted that the Democrats would launch impeachment proceedings as early as January 2019 if the investigation into Russian election meddling had concluded by then.

“That will lead you to many months of just nastiness and, more importantly, no movement on the Trump agenda. Anybody who‘s telling the president that he can… work with a Democratic Congress is dangerously naive,” he said.

Bannon made clear that he thought the process would ultimately not succeed in forcing Trump from office as long as the Senate remained in Republican hands.

However, he said the gruelling process of impeachment hearings and other congressional investigations would be “excruciating” and make it harder to fill White House positions.

Trump has remained defiant after what was called his ‘darkest hour‘ in office, when last Tuesday first Cohen and then Manafort were convicted in different courts within just minutes of each other.

Cohen pleaded guilty to five charges of unpaid tax, two of campaign finance violations and one related to a house loan. Manafort was found guilty of tax and bank fraud and faces up to 80 years in jail.

The president has not ruled out using his presidential powers to pardon Manafort, who refused to cooperate with Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

In contrast he has dubbed Cohen a “flipper” for being apparently willing to admit what he knows about Trump in turn for leniency, suggesting such moves should be made illegal.

For Bannon, who fell out with Trump after being quoted in a damaging book about the White House but remains loyal to his vision, the best way to protect the president is retain hold of Congress at the midterms.

He believes that by making Trump‘s support base realise the threat of impeachment they will turn out en masse come polling day, seeing off any potential ‘blue wave‘ of Democratic support.

“I think what you‘re seeing is the Trump base realising the urgency of the moment,” Bannon said. “There‘s nothing better than ‘The Deplorables‘ when their backs are to the wall.”