- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 7, 2018

Former White House strategist Steve Bannon apologized Sunday to President Trump and his eldest son, Donald Jr., for derogatory comments about them in a new book about the first year of the Trump presidency.

Donald Trump Jr. is both a patriot and a good man,” Mr. Bannon said in a statement to Axios. “He has been relentless in his advocacy for his father and the agenda that has helped turn our country around.”

In the book “Fire and Fury” by Michael Wolff, Mr. Bannon criticized the younger Mr. Trump, presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner and former campaign chairman Paul Manafort for meeting with a Russian lawyer during the campaign seeking dirt on Democratic rival Hillary Clinton. He called the meeting “treasonous” and “unpatriotic.”

The president responded with rage, dubbing Mr. Bannon “Sloppy Steve” and saying he had nothing to do with Mr. Trump’s presidency.

In his statement, Mr. Bannon said his comments about the meeting were directed at Mr. Manafort, who also attended the session at Trump Tower in June 2016.

“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.,” Mr. Bannon said.

He said his earlier comments about the meeting with the Russians were motivated by “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.”

Mr. Bannon tried to patch things up with the president, saying he’s still a strong supporter.

“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,” he said.

“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 breach for this president’s efforts to make America great again,” he continued.

He reiterated his view from a “60 Minutes” interview last fall that the special counsel investigation into Russia is pointless.

“Everything I have to say about the ridiculous nature of the Russian ‘collusion’ investigation I said on my ‘60 Minutes’ interview,” he said. “There was no collusion and the investigation is a witch hunt.”

Since the rift with Mr. Trump widened last week, Mr. Bannon has lost support from the Mercer family, major financial backers of his projects.

Mr. Trump and his allies have been pushing back hard against the unflattering portrayal of the Trump White House in Mr. Wolff’s book.

“I’ve had to put up with the Fake News from the first day I announced that I would be running for President. Now I have to put up with a Fake Book, written by a totally discredited author,” the president tweeted Sunday. “Ronald Reagan had the same problem and handled it well. So will I!”

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