Bannon praises Trump Jr as a 'patriot' and 'good man' after book criticism

Bannon praises Trump Jr as a 'patriot' and 'good man' after book criticism
© Greg Nash

Former White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon in a new statement praised Donald Trump Jr.Donald (Don) John TrumpHillicon Valley: Cyber, tech takeaways from Mueller report | Millions of Instagram passwords exposed internally by Facebook | DHS unrolling facial recognition tech in airports | Uber unveils new safety measures after student's killing Heavily redacted Mueller report leaves major questions unanswered Mueller considered charging campaign aides in Trump Tower meeting but lacked evidence MORE as a "patriot" and a "good man" and expressed "regret" for his delayed response to quoted criticism in a book released last week.

"He has been relentless in his advocacy for his father and the agenda that has helped turn our country around," Bannon said in a statement provided to Axios, referring to Trump Jr.

Bannon added that his support for President TrumpDonald John TrumpGrassroots America shows the people support Donald Trump Trump speaks to rebel Libyan general attacking Tripoli Dem lawmaker: Mueller report shows 'substantial body of evidence' on obstruction MORE and his agenda is "unwavering."

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"President Trump was the only candidate that could have taken on and defeated the Clinton apparatus," he said.

"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's statement comes after a controversial new book on the Trump White House claimed Bannon called the 2016 meeting between Trump Jr. and a group of Russians "treasonous."

"They’re going to crack Don Junior like an egg on national TV," Bannon is quoted as saying in the book, referring to the investigation into Russia's election interference.

Trump tore into Bannon after excerpts of Michael Wolff's book, "Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House," were released. Trump accused Bannon of losing his mind.

Bannon in the statement to Axios sought to further explain his comments.

"My comments about the meeting with Russian nationals came from 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 ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonGrassroots America shows the people support Donald Trump Ex-FBI official: 'Links and coordination' with Russia happen everyday Ex-FBI agent: Americans should be 'disgusted' by Russian interference in Mueller report MORE's involvement in selling uranium to them," Bannon said.

He said his comments were aimed at former Trump campaign chairman Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortNew normal: A president can freely interfere with investigations without going to jail Kremlin: No evidence of election interference in Mueller report Heavily redacted Mueller report leaves major questions unanswered MORE, who he called 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.," Bannon said.

He added that there was no collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians and that the Russia probe is a "witch hunt."

"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," he said.