Steve Bannon (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Steve Bannon walks back his "treasonous" Trump comments

Bannon didn't explicitly apologize, but he expressed support for the president, and called his son a "patriot"


Charlie May
January 7, 2018 6:54PM (UTC)

President Donald Trump's former White House chief strategist is changing his mind on the comments he previously made about the ongoing Russia investigation which caused a major rift between him and the Trump administration. Bannon now says his words were not directed towards the president's son, but instead, former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort.

After having said special counsel Robert Muller was "going to crack Don Junior like an egg on national TV," Bannon changed his tune.

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"Donald 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," Bannon said in a statement to Axios. "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 continued, "President Trump was the only candidate that could have taken on and defeated the Clinton apparatus. I am the only person to date to conduct a global effort to preach the message of Trump and Trumpism; and remain ready to stand in the breech for this president's efforts to make America great again."

Bannon's damning comments were revealed last week in excerpts of from a new bombshell book titled, "Fire and Fury," authored by Michael Wolff. The Breitbart News head called the June 2016 meeting in Trump Tower, attended by Trump's son, his son-in-law Jared Kushner, Manafort and a Russian lawyer with alleged ties to the Kremlin, "treasonous," as Salon has previously reported.

However, Bannon backtracked and said on Sunday that his "comments about the meeting with Russian nationals" came from his "life experiences as a Naval officer stationed aboard a destroyer whose main mission was to hunt Soviet submarines to my time at the Pentagon during the Reagan years when our focus was the defeat of 'the evil empire' and to making films about Reagan's war against the Soviets and Hillary Clinton's involvement in selling uranium to them."

He went on to add that his comments were, instead, "aimed at Paul Manafort, a seasoned campaign professional with experience and knowledge of how the Russians operate," according to Axios. "He should have known they are duplicitous, cunning and not our friends. To reiterate, those comments were not aimed at Don Jr."

Bannon also sided with Trump's rhetoric that the Mueller probe was a "witch hunt" and that there was "no collusion" between the campaign and the Russian government.

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He added, "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."

There's been no indication so far that Trump will accept Bannon's new position. Trump has railed against him on Twitter and has branded his former ally as "Sloppy Steve." Trump has yet to weigh in on Bannon's recent backtrack, and while a rekindled friendship between the president and the self-professed leader of the alt-right isn't out of the question, it still looks quite bleak as of now.

 


Charlie May

Charlie May is a news writer at Salon. You can find him on Twitter at @charliejmay

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