Former White House and campaign strategist Steve Bannon has apologized to President Donald Trump and his family for remarks he made in journalist Michael Wolff’s explosive new book, Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House.
“Donald Trump Jr., is both a patriot and a good man,” the Breitbart chief said in a statement released exclusively to Axios on Sunday morning. “He has been relentless in his advocacy for his father and the agenda that has helped turn our country around.”
“My support is also unwavering for the president and his agenda,” Bannon continued, “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 went on to praise his former boss for having “defeated the Clinton apparatus”―a call-back that Trump, notoriously fond of reliving his 2016 victory, might appreciate―and sung the praises of “Trump and Trumpism.”
Exclusive: Bannon says "I'm sorry" https://t.co/hPzx8m7fqx— Jim VandeHei (@JimVandeHei) January 7, 2018
For Bannon, who (like Trump himself) rarely allows himself to be seen chastened in the public eye, this amounts to a rare and major event. In short, he both rhetorically bowed to Trump and lauded his first year in office, while distancing himself from his widely reported criticisms of the president’s eldest son.
Donald Trump Jr. was one of the participants in a meeting with a prominent Russian lawyer at Trump Tower prior to election day that Bannon characterized as “treasonous” in Wolff’s new book. Bannon now says he was taking rhetorical aim at Paul Manafort, the campaign’s former chairman who was also in the meeting.
“My comments were aimed at Paul Manafort, 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.”
In the book, Bannon also remarked that “they’re going to crack Don Junior like an egg on national TV,” a comment he did not specifically address in his statement.
Bannon has apologized for his comments about Trump Jr and others in a statement provided to @mikeallen. Says his comments about the Trump Tower meeting being treasonous "were aimed at Paul Manafort" pic.twitter.com/mdJN3AHwzm— Natasha Bertrand (@NatashaBertrand) January 7, 2018
Bannon concluded by characterizing the investigation of independent counsel Robert Mueller as a “witch hunt,” parroting the same phrase Trump has used to attack the investigation for months and apologized that his responding to “inaccurate reporting” distracted from Trump’s “historic achievements” in his first year as president.
The statement came just days after Bannon was rebuked by Trump and conservative billionaire Rebekah Mercer, an instrumental megadonor and power broker in right-wing media. Mercer reportedly decided earlier this week to cut Bannon off from her funding, in what was perceived as a devastating blow to his standing and influence on the right.
Trump, for his part, also turned on Bannon in very public and derogatory terms after his remarks in Fire and Fury became public, accusing him of having “lost his mind,” and referring to him as “Sloppy Steve.”