Bannon: Sessions an 'excellent' AG, Trump 'wrong' about recusal

Former White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon says in a new interview that President Trump is "wrong" to suggest that he should have chosen someone other than Jeff Sessions as his attorney general, saying Sessions has done an "excellent" job.

In an interview with CNN's Fareed Zakaria set to air Sunday, Bannon said that Sessions's decision to recuse himself from the federal probe into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia "is not even an issue," and that Trump should not dwell on the matter.

"I think the president was wrong," Bannon said. "I think if you look at what Jeff Sessions has done on immigration on migration and all the key issues at the Justice Department, I think that Sessions has personally done an excellent job."

The former Breitbart News chief said that if Trump had chosen any other campaign surrogates to lead the Justice Department - such as former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani or former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) - they would have had to recuse themselves from the Russia investigation too.

Bannon's comments came two days after Trump said that he wished he had chosen someone other than Sessions as the nation's top law enforcement official.

The president has privately and publicly fumed about Sessions's decision to step aside from the Russia investigation last year, complaining that the attorney general had failed to protect him from scrutiny in the probe.

Sessions's recusal put his deputy, Rod Rosenstein, in charge of the Russia investigation. Rosenstein appointed special counsel Robert Mueller to lead the probe in May 2017 after Trump fired former FBI Director James Comey.

Axios reported on Thursday that Trump had pressured Sessions on at least four separate occasions last year to reclaim control of the Russia investigation, but to no avail. 

Bannon, who left the White House in August, was seen as an ally of Sessions within the administration. The Associated Press reported on Thursday that Bannon and former White House chief of staff Reince Priebus urged Trump last year not to fire the attorney general, warning that doing so could intensify the Russia probe.