Last night, Axios reported that President Trump was working the phones to tell people they had to choose between him and Bannon. Now Bannon has begun to backtrack on comments he made to Michael Wolff in “Fire and Fury.” Axios, oddly enough, got a copy of Bannon’s mea culpa directly from him, here is the gist:
- “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.”
- “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.”
- “President Trump was the only candidate that could have taken on and defeated the Clinton apparatus. I am the only person to date to conduct a global effort to preach the message of Trump and Trumpism; and remain ready to stand in the breech for this president’s efforts to make America great again.”
- “My comments about the meeting with Russian nationals came from my life experiences as a Naval officer 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’ and to making films about Reagan’s war against the Soviets and Hillary Clinton’s involvement in selling uranium to them.”
- “My comments were aimed at Paul Manafort, 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.”
- “Everything I have to say about the ridiculous nature of the Russian ‘collusion’ investigation I said on my 60 Minutes interview. There was no collusion and the investigation is a witch hunt.”
- “I regret that my delay in responding to the inaccurate reporting regarding Don Jr has diverted attention from the president’s historical accomplishments in the first year of his presidency.”
What is notable here is that Bannon really went after Jared Kushner and, by extension, Ivanka Trump.
Steve Bannon savages 'Javanka', laying bare White House tensions https://t.co/sIrlhrAyNw
— Ted Mason (@tmasonmi5) January 7, 2018
There is no apology for anything in here.
It is difficult to see this as anything but a craven act of desperation. Before he wormed his way into the Trump campaign, Steve Bannon was known to tens of persons and characterized as a liar, a cheat, a poisonous personality, and a scam artist by two thirds of those. There is no doubt that Bannon’s style created a lot of chaos in an already chaotic transition period and robbed the administration of an opportunity to get its feet on the ground. Bannon is finding out that his influence, once John Kelly showed him the door, is virtually nil and no one cares what he thinks. He probably didn’t anticipate when he gave these interviews painting himself as the true brains in the White House that he’d be outside looking in when the book hit the stands. Attacking Trump, Donald Jr., and Jared/Ivanka is simply not helpful to him. Already his biggest funder has abandoned him.
He had only one choice when this book was published: double down and be the voice of a populist insurgency. Instead he repudiated himself. This isn’t going to play well with anyone.