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Bannon Apologizes for Role in Book Critical of White House

7 Jan 2018 6:20 pm
By Harriet Torry and Rebecca Ballhaus 

WASHINGTON -- Former Trump senior strategist Stephen Bannon apologized Sunday for his role in a new book critical of the Trump administration as senior White House officials sharpened the administration's attack on it.

"My support is also unwavering for the president and his agenda," Mr. Bannon said in the statement. "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."

The book, "Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House" by Michael Wolff, quotes Mr. Bannon as speculating whether the younger Trump may have introduced those who attended a June 2016 Trump Tower meeting between a Russian lawyer linked to the Kremlin and top campaign aides to President Donald Trump. "The chance that Don Jr did not walk these jumos up to his father's office on the twenty-sixth floor is zero," the book said.

In his statement Sunday, which was first reported by Axios, Mr. Bannon expressed "regret" to the Trump family and praised Donald Trump Jr. as "both a patriot and a good man."

"There was no collusion and the investigation is a witch hunt," Mr. Bannon added, referring to special counsel Robert Mueller's probe into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

Senior White House officials pushed back Sunday against the Wolff book, which features criticism of Mr. Trump's administration from close advisers. They also sought to further distance the White House from Mr. Bannon.

Former Trump campaign manager and current Trump adviser Corey Lewandowski described the work as "a book of fiction" and said it contained "so many mischaracterizations that it shouldn't be taken seriously."

His criticism was echoed by top White House adviser Stephen Miller, who, in a contentious interview with CNN's Jake Tapper on "State of the Union, " described the book as "garbage." He also said Mr. Bannon's role in the presidency "has been greatly exaggerated."

Mr. Wolff's book had earlier quoted Mr. Bannon as calling the June 2016 meeting "treasonous" and "unpatriotic."

The author denied that he violated off-the-record agreements. When questioned about alleged reporting errors in the book on NBC's 'Meet The Press,' Mr. Wolff said "I think I mixed up a Mike Berman and a Mark Berman. For that I apologize. But the book speaks for itself."

Donald Trump Jr. has denied he did anything wrong in agreeing to the 2016 meeting at Trump Tower, in which the campaign had been promised negative information about Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

The meeting has become a focus of Mr. Mueller's investigation into Moscow's meddling in the 2016 election and whether Trump campaign aides colluded with the Kremlin in the interference. Mr. Trump has said his campaign didn't collude with Russia, and Moscow has denied interfering in the U.S. election.

In a tweet Sunday, Mr. Trump called "Fire and Fury" a "fake book." Another claim made in the book is that White House advisers have had concerns about Mr. Trump's fitness for the presidency, in particular about his "lapses and repetitions."

Mr. Trump rejected those claims at a Camp David press briefing and in tweets on Saturday, saying that "throughout my life, my two greatest assets have been mental stability and being, like, really smart."

The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee said the new book by Mr. Wolff raises concerns about the president's capacity to do the job.

"I don't think there's anyone in Congress frankly of either party who does not concur at least privately with those observations and concerns, " Rep. Adam Schiff (D., Calif.) said on CNN's "State of the Union."

--Thomas M. Burton contributed to this article.

Write to Harriet Torry at harriet.torry@wsj.com and Rebecca Ballhaus at Rebecca.Ballhaus@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

January 07, 2018 13:20 ET (18:20 GMT)

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