In a lengthy statement provided to Axios, newfound Trump administration enemy Steve Bannon walked back and/or disputed a number of the incendiary comments he gave to author Michael Wolff, whose book Fire and Fury has helped make Bannon a persona non grata in the White House.
In the quasi-apology, Bannon focuses his “regret” on the comments he made about Donald Trump Jr.; Trump Sr. was particularly upset by Bannon’s attacks on his immediate family.
Bannon had told Wolff that Robert Mueller’s prosecutors were “going to crack Don Junior like an egg on national TV.”
In the statement on Saturday, he calls Trump Jr. a “patriot and a good man.”
Bannon had also told Wolff of the infamous June 2016 meeting between Russians and Trump campaign officials at Trump Tower: “Even if you thought that this was not treasonous, or unpatriotic, or bad shit, and I happen to think it’s all of that, you should have called the FBI immediately.”
On Sunday, he clarified that his criticism was reserved for Paul Manafort, not Trump Jr., which is a mighty tough claim to swallow. Bannon also wrote that “there was no collusion” and that Mueller’s investigation is a “witch hunt.”
Bannon is by nature a pugilist, and he has never shied away from a rousing public battle. But the fallout from Wolff’s book has been so intense, with Trump’s staff taking a unified line against Bannon day after day, and the president reportedly asking allies to choose between him and Bannon — that he appears to have folded this time.
The Washington Post reports that Bannon was resistant to bending at all, but realized he had to do something to stop the bleeding.
The statement, one person close to him said, was as much about stanching the defections of supporters and potential backers as it was about appeasing the president. Bannon continues to criticize Kushner and Ivanka Trump in private and calls Trump a “vessel,” an ally said, while casting himself as something of a revolutionary in the conservative movement.
Whether he’ll be welcomed back into the dysfunctional White House family anytime soon is another matter.