Former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon apologized to President Trump and his son, Donald Trump Jr, on Sunday, feeding quotes to the website Axios.
'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,' the Breitbart head said.
He also explained that when he labeled Donald Trump Jr's Trump Tower meeting with a Russian lawyer as 'treasonous,' he meant for that description to be attached to Paul Manafort, who he said would know better. 'My comments were aimed at Paul Manafort, a seasoned campaign professional with experience and knowledge of how the Russians operate,' Bannon explained. 'He should have known they are duplicitous, cunning and not our friends.'
'To reiterate, those comments were not aimed at Don Jr,' Bannon told Axios. Bannon has found himself isolated from Trumpworld in recent days, as author Michael Wolff's new book, 'Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House' has hit bookshelves. A Bannon insider told CNN Sunday that the former chief strategist had planned to attack Wolff in a statement, before the president started attacking him.
Bannon was an on-the-record source for Wolff in the book. In it, Bannon described the 2016 meeting between campaign aides and a group of Russians as 'treasonous' and 'unpatriotic.' Bannon also predicted that the Russia probe, led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, would focus on money laundering. 'They’re going to crack Don Junior like an egg on national TV,' Bannon said.
On Sunday, Bannon described both the young and old Trump in an incredibly flattering light. 'Donald Trump, Jr is both a patriot and a good man,' Bannon said. 'He has been relentless in his advocacy for his father and the agenda that has helped turn our country around.' The president, Bannon added, 'was the only candidate that could have taken on and defeated the Clinton apparatus.'
Bannon also played up his loyalty to the president. '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 at one point.
'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 said at another.
The president has lashed out at Bannon publicly and in an unprecedented way. On Wednesday Trump had his Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders release an anti-Bannon statement to the White House press pool. 'Steve Bannon has nothing to do with me or my presidency,' Trump said. 'When he was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind.'
Later, Trump concocted a nickname for Bannon – Sloppy Steve – which he began using in tweets. Axios also reported that the president wanted his surrogates to go on TV to 'bury Steve.' That was apparent on Sunday morning when Trump's Senior Advisor on Policy Stephen Miller went on CNN's State of the Union and called Bannon's description of the Trump Tower meeting 'grotesque.'
In a contentious back-and-forth with Jake Tapper, Miller, a political ally of Bannon's at the White House, also said Bannon was 'so out of touch with reality and obviously so vindictive.' Trump heralded his 32-year-old aide with a tweet of appreciation, though not for his Bannon takedown, but for going rough-and-tumble with Tapper.
'Jake Tapper of Fake News CNN just got destroyed in his interview with Stephen Miller of the Trump Administration,' Trump wrote. 'Watch the hatred and unfairness of this CNN flunky!'
Steve Bannon makes a grovelling APOLOGY to President Trump and his son - saying his 'treason' comments were meant for ex-campaign manager Paul Manafort