Donald Trump’s former chief White House strategist and campaign executive apologized Sunday for comments he had made about the President’s son that appear in an explosive new book about the administration.
“Donald Trump, Jr. is both a patriot and a good man. He has been relentless in his advocacy for his father and the agenda that has helped turn our country around,” Bannon said in a statement released on Sunday that was obtained by Fortune. “My support is also unwavering for the president and his agenda — as I have shown daily in my national radio broadcasts, on the pages of Breitbart News and in speeches and appearances from Tokyo and Hong Kong to Arizona and Alabama.”
Bannon concluded the statement, which was first published by Axios, by expressing regret for diverting attention away from the nuances of the President’s accomplishment.
In “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White” journalist Michael Wolff’s report of the internal workings of the West Wing, Bannon is quoted as saying that Trump Jr.’s meeting with a Russian attorney in the summer of 2016 — where he was joined by top campaign staffers Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort — was “treasonous.”
“The chance that Don Jr. did not walk these jumos up to his father’s office on the twenty sixth floor is zero,” Bannon says in the book.
President Trump promptly broke with Bannon after the comments were published in previews of the book’s release, claiming that when Bannon left the White House lost his mental stability, and began referring to him as “sloppy Steve.” Bannon exited the White House in 2017, when he returned to Breitbart News as executive chairman.
Bannon explained in his statement that his averse reaction to the meeting stemmed from his experience in the Navy, explaining that he was “stationed aboard a destroyer whose main mission was to hunt Soviet submarines to my time at the Pentagon during the Reagan years, when our focus was the defeat of ‘the evil empire.’”
After the comments were publicized, Bannon’s biggest financial backer, Rebekah Mercer, followed the President’s lead in distancing herself from Bannon. “I support President Trump and the platform upon which he was elected. My family and I have not communicated with Steve Bannon in many months and have provided no financial support to his political agenda, nor do we support his recent actions and statements,” Mercer told the Washington Post.