Steve Bannon’s attempt Sunday to walk back criticism of the Trump family attributed to him in Michael Wolff’s explosive book has reportedly done little to ease the anger inside the White House.
Quoting a White House official, Politico reported Sunday it was “unlikely” Bannon would be able to talk his way back into Trump’s good graces, or those of his former West Wing peers.
Trump's former chief strategist and one of the president’s closest allies until he was pushed from the White House in August enraged the president with his comments in “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House,” the new tell-all published Friday.
Along with scorching criticism of Trump, Bannon is quoted as describing a meeting involving Trump campaign officials – including Donald Trump Jr. and former campaign chairman Paul Manafort – and a Russian lawyer as “treasonous.”
Facing a barrage of criticism from the president – who now calls Bannon “Sloppy Steve” – and increasing pressure from Trump’s allies, Bannon issued an uncharacteristic plea of repentance Sunday, attempting to reverse the remarks.
In his 297-word statement, Bannon described Trump Jr. as “both a patriot and a good man” and accused Wolff of “inaccurate reporting.” He said his criticism over the meeting had been directed at Manafort, “a seasoned campaign professional with experience and knowledge of how the Russians operate.”
Bannon’s original remarks, as reported by Wolff, targeted all three Trump officials at the meeting, including the president’s son. “The three senior guys in the campaign thought it was a good idea to meet with a foreign government inside Trump Tower in the conference room on the 25th floor – with no lawyers,” he was quoted as saying.
“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.”
Bannon, currently executive chair of Breitbart News, also expressed regret for the five-day delay in responding to Wolff’s book, and said his support was “unwavering for the president and his agenda.”
However, the criticism of Trump and his family has left Bannon politically isolated and his populist project increasingly in jeopardy.
CNN reported Friday that there was a concerted push to convince Breitbart CEO Larry Solov, and Susie Breitbart, the widow of the website’s founder, to fire Bannon.
On Thursday, Rebekah Mercer, a billionaire conservative donor who owns a stake in Breitbart, publicly rebuked Bannon, saying she’d had no recent contact with him and provided no financial support for his agenda.