President Trump and his staff had mixed reactions to Sunday's hour-long interview with Breitbart chairman Steve Bannon, in which the former White House chief strategist spoke critically of key Republican leaders and said the firing of ex-FBI Director James Comey was a grave mistake.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders, who was peppered with questions about Bannon at a briefing with reporters Monday, said the former West Wing staffer has spoken once with Trump since his high-profile departure in mid-August.
"I think we may be answering more questions on Steve Bannon now that he's not here than when he was," Sanders said of her former colleague.
In a wide-ranging interview with CBS' Charlie Rose that aired Sunday, Bannon said Trump committed an egregious error when he terminated Comey earlier this year. The bombastic media mogul said Comey's firing may have been the biggest mistake made by a president in "modern political history."
But Sanders said the White House stands by the decision, citing Comey's recent behavior as "further justification for [his] firing."
"Since the director's firing, we've learned new information about his conduct," Sanders told reporters, accusing the former FBI director of "giving false testimony [to a Senate panel], leaking privileged information to journalists, [and going] outside the chain of command and politicizing an investigation into a political candidate."
Trump is "very confident" in FBI Director Christopher Wray, who was confirmed by the Senate to replace Comey in a 92-5 vote last month, Sanders said.
"He has full confidence in him to restore and lead the FBI," she added.
Sanders also put distance between the White House and Bannon's comments about the upcoming congressional battle over what to do with so-called Dreamers, illegal immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as kids and received temporary legal status through the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
Trump has given congressional Republicans six months to devise a legislative solution before the program is completely phased out and certain beneficiaries begin to lose their protections from deportation.
"My fear is that with this six month down range, if this goes all the way down to its logical conclusion, in February or March, it will be a civil war inside the Republican Party," Bannon told CBS.
"I think that Steve always likes to speak in the most extreme measures," Sanders said in response to a question about Bannon's "civil war" prediction. "I'm not sure I agree with that."
Sanders admitted that she and the president had watched parts of the "60 Minutes" interview with Bannon, saying Monday that at the very least "it made for great TV and I'm sure that CBS will be happy to put these ratings out there."