Bannon 'Regrets' Explosive Comments As Surrogates Denounce Wolff Book On Sunday Shows
The CIA Director, a top policy aide and a former campaign manager made appearances on Sunday talk shows to defend Donald Trump's fitness as president and to bash a new tabloidlike book that has caused delirium in the nation's capital for the better part of a week.
While the president's surrogates were busy on the airwaves providing him cover, the man at the center of the frenzy Washington finds itself in, former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, issued an apology for his part in the controversy.
In a statement provided to Axios, Bannon said he regrets comments he made in Michael Wolff's book Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House,where he described a June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower between Donald Trump Jr., other campaign staff and Russian operatives as "treasonous."
Bannon went on to praise the president's son calling him "both a patriot and a good man," adding:
"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."
In his statement to Axios, Bannon said his "support is also unwavering for the president and his agenda," and that he remains "ready to stand in the breech [sic] for this president's efforts to make America great again."
White House Senior Policy Adviser Stephen Miller was a guest on CNN's "State of the Union" where he railed against Wolff's book and Bannon, saying that Bannon's comments were "tragic." Miller also went on to say it was "unfortunate that Steve would make these grotesque comments, so out of touch with reality."
Miller, as the president has in recent days, sought to discredit the author and Bannon, saying of the book:
"It reads like an angry vindictive person spouting off to a highly discreditable author," Miller said, adding, "The book is best understood as a work of very poorly written fiction and I will also say that the author is a garbage author of a garbage book."
Later in the interview Miller called Bannon's involvement in the book "a betrayal to the president," and said the extent of Bannon's role in the Trump White House has been "greatly exaggerated."
The interview turned into a contentious shouting match as Miller sought to highlight Trump's "political genius," and host Jake Tapper tried to move into questions addressing Trump's fitness as commander in chief, a topic central to the book.
At one point Tapper abruptly cut off the interview with Miller, but not before telling him:
"There's one viewer you care about right now and you are being obsequious, you're being a factotum in order to please him, OK? And I think I've wasted enough of my viewers' time."
Tapper then went to a commercial break.
For good measure, after the interview was done, the president tweeted:
"Jake Tapper of Fake News CNN just got destroyed in his interview with Stephen Miller of the Trump Administration. Watch the hatred and unfairness of this CNN flunky!"
Jake Tapper of Fake News CNN just got destroyed in his interview with Stephen Miller of the Trump Administration. Watch the hatred and unfairness of this CNN flunky!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 7, 2018
In a much more measured interview on Fox News Sunday, Trump's former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski called the book "a complete fabrication."
"Let me be very clear, this is a book of fiction. Not only is it not accurate, there are so many misrepresentations in this book that it shouldn't be taken seriously," Lewandowski said.
Earlier on the same program, CIA Director Mike Pompeo, who personally delivers most of the daily intelligence briefings to Trump, called the digs at the president's mental capacity "absurd."
"We talk about some of the most serious matters facing America and the world, complex issues," Pompeo said. "He asks really difficult questions of our team at CIA, so that we can provide him the information that he needs to make good, informed policy decisions, and I've watched him do that."
Trump sounded a triumphant tone Sunday, drawing parallels between himself and President Ronald Reagan, tweeting:
"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. Ronald Reagan had the same problem and handled it well. So will I!"
Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.
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. Ronald Reagan had the same problem and handled it well. So will I!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 7, 2018