WASHINGTON — Isolated from his political allies and reduce off from his economic patrons, Stephen K. Bannon, President Trump’s former chief strategist, issued a striking mea culpa on Sunday for comments he had created that had been essential of the president’s eldest son.
Mr. Bannon, who is quoted in a new book calling Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting with Russians in 2016 “treasonous,” attempted to reverse his statements totally, saying that the younger Mr. Trump was “both a patriot and a excellent man.” Mr. Bannon spoke out right after 5 days of silence, a delay that he mentioned he regretted.
He said his reference to “treason” had not been aimed at the president’s son, but at one more campaign official who attended the 2016 Trump Tower meeting, Paul Manafort.
“My comments have been aimed at Paul Manafort, a seasoned campaign skilled with knowledge and understanding of how the Russians operate,” Mr. Bannon mentioned, in a statement initial reported by Axios. “He should have recognized they are duplicitous, cunning and not our close friends. To reiterate, those comments had been not aimed at Don Jr.”
Earlier on Sunday, the administration continued its assault on Mr. Bannon, with Mr. Trump’s senior policy adviser, Stephen Miller, saying in a heated interview on CNN that comments by Mr. Bannon in the new book have been “out of touch with reality,” “vindictive” and “grotesque.”
Mr. Miller also pushed back against the perception that Mr. Bannon, whose harsh criticism of Mr. Trump and his household in the book has brought on a sharp falling-out with the president, had ever played a Svengali-like role as chief strategist in the White Home and on the presidential campaign.
He stated Mr. Bannon’s role had been “greatly exaggerated,” even as the CNN host Jake Tapper ticked off a lengthy list of policies he said Mr. Bannon had played a key function in formulating.
In the book, “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House,” by Michael Wolff, Mr. Bannon stated Mr. Trump had “lost his stuff,” and he described the meeting with Russians attended by Donald Trump Jr. and the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, as potentially treasonous.
Mr. Miller, in his defense of the president, known as him a “political genius” who could rattle off full paragraphs on the fly in response to news events and then provide them “flawlessly” to a campaign audience. On Saturday, the president, responding to the book’s depiction of his actions in office as erratic, had named himself a “very steady genius.”
The interview, on the CNN plan “State of the Union,” speedily grew heated as Mr. Tapper accused Mr. Miller of becoming “obsequious” and speaking to an “audience of 1.” Prior to it ended, Mr. Tapper told Mr. Miller, who is identified for his challenging-edge attacks on political opponents and the news media, that he was wasting his audience’s time.
Mr. Tapper then turned to the camera, even as Mr. Miller was nevertheless speaking, and cut to a commercial.
On Twitter, Mr. Trump mentioned Mr. Miller had “destroyed” Mr. Tapper in the interview.
In addition to assailing Mr. Bannon, Mr. Miller sharply criticized Mr. Wolff and his book, saying it “is very best understood as a function of extremely poorly written fiction.”
The president, who was returning from Camp David, where he had met with Republican congressional leaders and cabinet officials about the 2018 legislative agenda, weighed in with his personal criticism.
Mr. Wolff, appearing on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” defended the accuracy of his book and contradicted the White Residence account of how usually he had talked to the president.
White Home officials stated their records showed that Mr. Wolff had last talked to the president in February, but Mr. Wolff said he had talked to the president a number of times right after that. In all, Mr. Wolff said, he talked to the president for about three hours, including interviews in the course of the campaign.
He mentioned that Mr. Trump had initially flattered him about the project, and that he had told interview subjects that “the president mentioned he likes this idea” of a book.
Mr. Wolff also repeated an assertion in the book that numerous in the White Property had talked about the possible invocation of the 25th Amendment, a constitutional provision that permits a president’s powers to be transferred to the vice president when the vice president and a majority of the cabinet or a body created by Congress conclude that the president is incapable of performing his duties. “This is alarming in every single way,” Mr. Wolff stated, adding, “This is worse than everybody thought.”
Appearing on Sunday talk shows, other individuals in Mr. Trump’s inner circle dismissed any such worries.
Mike Pompeo, the C.I.A. director, mentioned that he had no issues about Mr. Trump’s potential to receive and procedure the type of intelligence usually presented to presidents, and that Mr. Wolff’s descriptions of Mr. Trump’s mental state had been “pure fantasy.”
“I’m with him practically each day,” Mr. Pompeo said on “Fox News Sunday.” “We talk about some of the most severe matters facing America and the world, complex troubles. The president is engaged. He understands the complexity. He asks actually challenging queries of our team at C.I.A.”
Corey Lewandowski, Mr. Trump’s former campaign manager, stated Mr. Bannon had clearly crossed a line. “I can’t justify what Steve mentioned,” Mr. Lewandowski stated on “Fox News Sunday.” “To accuse a person of treason is so out of line.”
Published at Sun, 07 Jan 2018 17:44:38 +0000