- Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon issued a long statement to the news website Axios apologizing for the bombshell comments he made in the new tell-all, “Fire & Fury: Inside the Trump White House.”
- Bannon was quoted eviscerating President Donald Trump, his son Donald Trump Jr., his daughter, Ivanka Trump, and his son-in-law Jared Kushner.
- Bannon walked back many of his remarks on Sunday about the Russia investigation, Trump, and his family.
Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon gave a lengthy statement to the news website Axios on Sunday apologizing for the explosive comments he made that were quoted in Michael Wolff’s new book, “Fire & Fury: Inside the Trump White House.”
The book paints President Donald Trump and his administration in an unflattering light and has dominated headlines all week, while also stoking Trump’s and his allies’ ire.
In the statement, Bannon expressed “regret” to Trump and walked back comments he made about Trump’s oldest son, Donald Trump Jr.
In the book, Bannon was quoted as calling Trump Jr.’s meeting with a Russian lawyer and several others in June 2016 “treasonous” and “unpatriotic.”
He added that there was “zero” chance Trump Jr. “did not walk these jumos up to his father’s office on the 26th floor.”
Bannon apologised Sunday, saying that Trump Jr. “is both a patriot and a good man. He has been relentless in his advocacy for his father and the agenda that has helped turn our country around.”
He added that his comments about the Russia meeting were directed towards former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who also attended the meeting along with Trump Jr. and Kushner. Bannon said Manafort was “a seasoned campaign professional with experience and knowledge of how the Russians operate. He should have known they are duplicitous, cunning, and not our friends.”
“To reiterate, those comments were not aimed at Don Jr.,” Bannon said.
He also touched on a frequent conservative talking point vis-a-vis the Russia investigation and whether the Trump campaign colluded with Moscow to tilt the election in his favour. Echoing Trump’s and his allies’ earlier comments, Bannon suggested former Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton was the one who colluded with Russia and pointed to the 2010 Uranium One deal as evidence.
After saying his comments about the Russia meeting was derived from his own experience as a naval officer, Bannon added that they were prompted in part by “making films about Reagan’s war against the Soviets and Hillary Clinton’s involvement in selling uranium to them.”
He called the FBI’s Russia investigation “ridiculous” and a “witch hunt,” and said there was no collusion.
Bannon, who is also head of the far-right Breitbart News, doubled down on his backing for Trump as well, saying his support was “unwavering … as I have shown daily in my national radio broadcasts, on the pages of Breitbart News and in speeches and appearances from Tokyo and Hong Kong to Arizona and Alabama.”
Bannon’s apology came after Trump went on a scorched-earth offensive against him in the wake of his comments.
Calling Bannon “Sloppy Steve,” Trump said Bannon had “lost his mind” and was “only in it for himself.”
“Michael Wolff is a total loser who made up stories in order to sell this really boring and untruthful book,” Trump later added on Twitter. “He used Sloppy Steve Bannon, who cried when he got fired and begged for his job.”
According to Axios, Trump has reached out to his allies in recent days and told them to choose a side: him or Bannon. He also told his surrogates who appear on TV to “bury Steve.”
And they largely appear to be taking the cue.
During an appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday, for instance, senior policy adviser Stephen Miller dimissed Bannon’s and Wolff’s credibility and called the book’s claims “a pile of trash.”
He described Bannon’s comments as “grotesque” and said his role in the White House was “greatly exaggerated.”
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Thursday that Breitbart should consider severing ties with Bannon, and Vanity Fair’s Tina Nguyen reported that there is “a full-fledged outside push for” Breitbart’s owners, Larry Solov, Susie Breitbart, and the Mercers, “to pull rank and fire Bannon.”
Bannon praised Trump on Sunday, saying he was the only candidate who was capable of defeating “the Clinton apparatus,” referring to Hillary Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton.
“I regret that my delay in responding to the inaccurate reporting regarding Don Jr. has diverted attention from the president’s historical accomplishments in the first year of his presidency,” Bannon concluded.
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