Under fire, Bannon backs off explosive comments about Trump's son

From Reuters - January 7, 2018

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trumps former strategist Steve Bannon on Sunday backed away from derogatory comments ascribed to him about Trumps son in a new book that sparked White House outrage and could threaten Bannons influence as a would-be conservative power broker.

Bannon, ousted from the White House in August, was quoted in Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, by journalist Michael Wolff, as saying a June 2016 meeting with a group of Russians attended by Donald Trump Jr. and his fathers top campaign officials was treasonous and unpatriotic.

The president responded by saying Bannon had lost his mind, and the White House suggested the hard-right news site Breitbart News part ways with Bannon as its executive chairman.

Bannon said in a statement released on Sunday that his comments were directed at Paul Manafort, Trumps former campaign manager, and not aimed at the presidents son.

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, the statement said.

I regret that my delay in responding to the inaccurate reporting regarding Don Jr. has diverted attention from the presidents historical accomplishments in the first year of his presidency, Bannon said.

Uproar over the book has dominated news coverage for days, putting the White House on the defensive just as Trump and his advisers sought to plan and bring attention to their policy goals for 2018 ahead of a November congressional election.

The former strategists statement could be aimed at trying to secure his job at Breitbart, a platform he has used while backing anti-establishment candidates for election to Congress.

The book portrays Trump, a former reality TV star who took office nearly a year ago, as mentally unstable and unfit for the demands of his job.



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