WASHINGTON — Isolated from his political allies and cut off from his financial patrons, Stephen K. Bannon, President Donald Trump’s former chief strategist, issued a striking mea culpa on Sunday for comments he had made that were critical of the president’s eldest son.
Bannon, who is quoted in a new book calling Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting with Russians in 2016 "treasonous," tried to reverse his statements completely, saying that the younger Trump was "both a patriot and a good man."
He said his reference to "treason" had not been aimed at the president’s son, but at another campaign official who attended the 2016 Trump Tower meeting, Paul Manafort.
"My comments were aimed at Paul Manafort, a seasoned campaign professional with experience and knowledge of how the Russians operate," Bannon said. "He should have known they are duplicitous, cunning and not our friends. To reiterate, those comments were not aimed at Don Jr."
Earlier on Sunday, the administration continued its assault on Bannon, with Donald Trump’s senior policy adviser, Stephen Miller, saying in a heated interview on CNN that comments by Bannon in the new book were "out of touch with reality," "vindictive" and "grotesque."
In the book, "Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House," by Michael Wolff, Bannon said 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.
Miller, in his defense of the president, called him a "political genius" who could rattle off complete paragraphs on the fly in response to news events and then deliver them "flawlessly" to a campaign audience. On Saturday, the president, responding to the book’s depiction of his actions in office as erratic, had called himself a "very stable genius."
The interview, on the CNN program "State of the Union," quickly grew heated as Tapper accused Miller of being "obsequious" and speaking to an "audience of one." Before it ended, Tapper told Miller, who is known for his hard-edge attacks on political opponents and the media, that he was wasting his audience’s time.
On Twitter, Donald Trump said Miller had "destroyed" Tapper in the interview.