Steve Bannon is sorry. After days of increasing acrimony between President Donald Trump and his former chief strategist, Bannon finally issued a statement apologizing for his words against the commander in chief’s eldest son. Bannon also expressed regret that it took him so long to speak up and made clear that despite the recent insults from the commander in chief, he still believes in Trump and his agenda.
“Donald Trump, Jr. is both a patriot and a good man,” said Bannon, who is quoted in Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury calling a 2016 meeting with Russians as “treasonous.” “He has been relentless in his advocacy for his father and the agenda that has helped turn our country around.” Bannon insisted that his mention of treason didn’t refer to Trump Jr. but rather to Paul Manafort, “a seasoned campaign professional with experience and knowledge of how the Russians operate.” Manafort, who was briefly Trump’s campaign manager, should have known better. “He should have known they are duplicitous, cunning and not our friends. To reiterate, those comments were not aimed at Don Jr,” Bannon said in the statement that was first reported by Axios.
Bannon said he regretted that it took him five days to personally respond to the book that has sent shockwaves around Washington. “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,” Bannon said. The former chief strategist also insisted that his support for Trump and his agenda is “unwavering.”
Anyone who doubted his commitment to the president hasn’t been paying attention, he said, noting that he shows his support for the president “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 also praised Trump with one issue that he knows is hard for the commander in chief to resist: his presidential election victory. “President Trump was the only candidate that could have taken on and defeated the Clinton apparatus,” Bannon wrote. “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 breach for this president’s efforts to make America great again.”
Bannon also took the opportunity to reiterate that he thinks the investigation into ties between Moscow and Trump’s presidential campaign is “ridiculous,” categorically writing that “there was no collusion and the investigation is a witch hunt.”
Although Bannon’s apology may not seem like much, it is very unlike him. “He’s as stubborn as Trump when it comes to apologizing and admitting he has made a mistake,” writes Axios’ Mike Allen. “He views any concession as a sign of humiliating weakness.”
Earlier in the day, Trump continued his campaign against Wolff’s work, describing Fire and Fury as a “fake book” on Twitter that was “written by a totally discredited author.”
One more thing
You depend on Slate for sharp, distinctive coverage of the latest developments in politics and culture. Now we need to ask for your support.
Our work is more urgent than ever and is reaching more readers—but online advertising revenues don’t fully cover our costs, and we don’t have print subscribers to help keep us afloat. So we need your help. If you think Slate’s work matters, become a Slate Plus member. You’ll get exclusive members-only content and a suite of great benefits—and you’ll help secure Slate’s future.Join Slate Plus