After his controversial statements about President Donald Trump’s son were revealed from excerpts of “Fire and Fury,” former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon expressed regret about what he said regarding Donald Trump Jr.
“Donald Trump Jr. is both a patriot and a good man,” Bannon wrote in his statement.
The book, written by Michael Wolff, contains many revealing comments on how Bannon felt about his former boss and other individuals in the White House. Bannon, for instance, expressed his disdain over a meeting between Trump’s son; his son-in-law, Jared Kushner; and at the time, campaign manager Paul Manafort, that took place at Trump Tower in the summer of 2016.
In the book, Bannon said that meeting was “treasonous” because it also involved individuals from Russia with strong ties to the Kremlin.
Bannon was also critical that none of the three Americans in that meeting were smart enough to talk to the FBI about Russians trying to give them dirt on Hillary Clinton.
“Even if you thought that this was not treasonous, or unpatriotic, or bad sh*t, and I happen to think it’s all of that, you should have called the FBI immediately,” Bannon said, according to the book.
The backlash against Bannon, much of it coming from the president himself, was immediate upon release of the excerpts. Trump issued a statement, decrying Bannon as having "very little to do with our historic victory" in 2016, and said that his former chief strategist had “lost his mind.”
Trump statement: “Steve Bannon has nothing to do with me or my Presidency. When he was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind.” Via pool pic.twitter.com/KZXXMDe5O9— Jim Acosta (@Acosta) January 3, 2018
Later on in the week, Trump continued his criticism of Bannon, calling him “Sloppy Steve” in a tweet that included denials about aspects written in the book.
I authorized Zero access to White House (actually turned him down many times) for author of phony book! I never spoke to him for book. Full of lies, misrepresentations and sources that don’t exist. Look at this guy’s past and watch what happens to him and Sloppy Steve!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 5, 2018
In Bannon’s latest statement about the whole ordeal, he took great pains to try to explain his characterizations of Trump’s eldest son, and he said that he meant to direct criticism more toward Paul Manafort than anybody else.
The “treasonous” comments were due to Bannon’s “life experiences as a Naval officer stationed aboard a destroyer whose main mission was to hunt Soviet submarines,” he explained.
He went on, writing:
"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."
It’s clear that Bannon is feeling the pressure put on by the president over his disparaging statements. Bannon recently lost the support of billionaire Rebekah Mercer, who had previously helped fund his media projects, because Bannon said he might mount a campaign challenge to Trump in 2020.
That loss of funding, more than anything else, probably led to Bannon’s apology and explanation over his controversial comments found in “Fire and Fury.” Without that huge paycheck, and without possible contributions from elsewhere, Bannon will have a difficult time financing his pet projects. It’s a bit of karmic balance that Bannon likely deserves, but it also underscores just how much influence Trump presently has with far-right conservative investors.