Former White House strategist Steve Bannon expressed regret for comments critical of President Trump and his family amid a heated feud with the White House.
"Donald Trump, Jr. is both a patriot and a good man,” Bannon said in a statement to Axios on Sunday. “He has been relentless in his advocacy for his father and the agenda that has helped turn our country around."
In Michael Wolff’s new book, Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, Bannon called a Trump Tower meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and a group of Russians “treasonous” and “unpatriotic.”
Trump’s son, son-in-law and White House adviser Jared Kushner, and former campaign chairman Paul Manafort met with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya at Trump Tower in New York in June 2016 during the presidential campaign.
The meeting came under scrutiny after an intermediary promised documents that would be damaging to rival Hillary Clinton. “I love it,” Trump Jr. replied in an email.
“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. They didn’t have any lawyers,” Bannon told Wolff. “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 said those comments “were aimed at Paul Manafort” who was “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,” the statement continued.
Bannon said he regrets not issuing a statement about his comments sooner because it has distracted from the president’s first-year accomplishments.