Stephen Bannon says he’s sorry.
The far right strategist began his atonement for calling actions taken by President Trump’s oldest son “treasonous” — an accusation that caused a rift with the commander-in-chief and his family, as well as those who support the President.
“Donald Trump Jr. is both a patriot and a good man,” Bannon said Sunday in a statement to Axios. “He has been relentless in his advocacy for his father and the agenda that has helped turn our country around.”
The Breitbart News bigwig walked back statements he made to author Michael Wolff in his explosive book “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House.”
A highlight was bashing Donald Trump Jr.’s controversial June 2016 meeting at the family’s Fifth Ave. tower with a Russian lawyer as “unpatriotic.”
“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,” he continued.
Bannon didn’t deny making the comments to Wolff. In his explanation, Bannon blames his remarks on his time as a Naval intelligence officer during the Cold War, during which he was stationed on a destroyer hunting Soviet submarines.
Bannon said his comments were taken out of context, and that he was actually mad at then-campaign chief Paul Manafort.
He said Manafort, his predecessor leading the campaign, is “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,” Bannon said. “To reiterate, those comments were not aimed at Don Jr.”
Wolff says Bannon told him prosecutors investigating possible campaign collusion with Russia would “crack Don Junior like an egg on national TV.”
Amid the “Fire and Fury” crisis, several White House and campaign officials have dismissed the extent of Bannon’s influence — even those who previously worked closely with him. The President himself disavowed his campaign’s chief strategist, calling Bannon a “loser.” On Saturday morning, Trump also defended himself, announcing he’s always been “like, really smart” and considered a “stable genius.”
Explosive statements in the book caused a rift between Trump and Bannon, formerly one of his most trusted advisers.
(MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
On Sunday, White House senior adviser Stephen Miller took up the cause and bashed his former mentor while dubbing Trump a “political genius.”
“It’s tragic and unfortunate that Steve would make these grotesque comments so out of touch with reality, and obviously so vindictive,” Miller said Sunday in a tense interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper.
“The book is best understood as a work of very poorly written fiction,” Miller said on “State of the Union.” “And I also will say that the author is a garbage author of a garbage book.”
Wolff is no kinder to Miller, describing him in the book as “a fifty-five-year-old trapped in a thirty-two-year-old’s body” and saying he “knew little about policy,” is unread and rubs people the wrong way.
Miller also echoed the White House line that Bannon had little to do with Trump’s presidency, particularly the controversial travel ban.
In a statement last Wednesday, amid embarrassing leaks from the book, Trump said Bannon “lost his mind” after he was nudged out of the White House last August.
Regardless, a source told The Hill, the President and Bannon would eventually reconcile.
“It’s a family fight, they always get back together,” a person close to Bannon told the newspaper. “Although this one could take some time.”
Meanwhile, as uber-conservatives, including former Breitbart News backer and billionaire Rebekah Mercer, chose to side with the President, Bannon catalogued his own Trump loyalty.
“My support is also unwavering for the president and his agenda — 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 said Sunday in his statement to Axios.